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High-impact, Individualized Projects

The DukeEngage Independent Project option allows you to create a project tailored to the needs of a community partner of your choosing, with learning objectives especially meaningful to you, in a location of particular interest. Is it hard? Sometimes. But students who have completed Independent Projects also report high (on average, the highest!) levels of impact, growth and satisfaction.

Is an Independent Project right for you?

Building an independent project takes time, initiative and the ability to assess your own skills and interests. A faculty advisor and mentor will assist and support you, but the responsibility — and the potential for success — rests squarely on your shoulders.

Communication skills are key. You will need good dialogue with your community partner before applying in order to design your project; during the summer you’ll troubleshoot directly with your supervisor.

You will also plan the logistics of your project, including housing, transportation and cultural immersion activities. If you are planning a project in a non-English speaking location, make sure your foreign language skills are up to the task!

As an independent participant, you may be the only volunteer working with your partner organization. If you are considering a project abroad, you may be the only international volunteer at your place of work or in your community. This level of immersion often leads to accelerated growth and extraordinary impact, but it may also leave you feeling isolated. If you typically process feelings best with others, it’s important to think about how you will manage on your own.

Indy Project Facts & Figures
  • Approximately 45-50 students pursue independent projects with DukeEngage each summer.
  • Indy project participants report higher levels of professional impact than their group project counterparts.
  • Indy project participants also report greater likely to report an impact on academic research.
  • Indy project participants are significantly more likely to report that DukeEngage had a great impact on co-curricular activities and choices.

Stories of Impact from Independent Projects