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As eager college students, we go into most things with a certain drive. We feel real adulthood creeping up on us, and as frightening as it may be, we want to prepare ourselves. So we look to internships and research, something that will give us a taste of what could become of us beyond the walls of Duke. We form connections and make impressions, try to get an idea of how we’ll be able to keep our heads above water. And in the midst of it all, we may learn things about ourselves and our interests that influence the paths we take.

I based my independent project around some issues I found interesting because they were familiar. I only had my experiences in mind when deciding what kind of community and community partner I wanted to work with. And I was just hoping that the summer would offer me more perspective, something I could take beyond the internship. When it did, the routes I needed to take at Duke and beyond become clearer. While DukeEngage may help foster the growth we need, it is up to us to continue the missions, the searches, the battles we recognized throughout the summer.

The drive that got us through the summer doesn’t dry up come August. We can use it to forward us and our passions, without the support of a program like DukeEngage. We might focus the classes we take on a certain topic, learn more about our issue, get to know the ins and outs. Or perhaps we join some extracurricular where we can interact with people and problems in a less formal environment. In a more social setting, we may throw what we’ve learned into conversation, get others to think and engage with the bigger picture. While it may seem like a certain space is not designed for these discussions or advocacy, we have to take those uncomfortable steps to open up the dialogue, to share and learn. Shouldn’t the work we’ve done for weeks live beyond that farewell Zoom meeting?