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Growing up, Amber Black was intent on building a career in New York City because of its rich diversity and numerous opportunities to serve vulnerable populations. After spending time there through DukeEngage-New York, however, she realized the unique value of being native to the community one wishes to serve.

During her eight weeks in the city, Black noticed the proliferation of people who moved there to engage in community-related work. She began to wonder about the work that needed to be done in less populous—and less popular—communities. “I began thinking more seriously about serving in my own community in Durham,” she said.

Going into DukeEngage-New York, Black was interested in the intersection of public policy in theory and on the ground, especially as it related to women in challenging and vulnerable circumstances. She interned at the Bronx Family Justice Center (BXFJC), a haven that provides comprehensive legal counseling and supportive services for survivors of domestic violence, elder abuse, and sex trafficking. Black was responsible for providing therapeutic childcare while parents received psychological or legal counseling.

She recalled an encounter with a three-year-old at BXFJC who could not eat her granola bar because she did not have enough healthy teeth. “I realized that I wanted to devote my professional life to ensuring that she and others like her have access to necessary resources in their respective communities,” Black said. “It is my hope that all children and their families have every resource available to them to maintain a healthy quality of life.”

Black is currently attending law school at Duke University with a focus on human rights and child advocacy. She has also volunteered in an afterschool program at the Lyon Park Community Center and spent the last year working at World Relief Durham, a refugee resettlement organization, as part of the Duke Chapel PathWays Fellowship.

Black helps a client apply for financial aid at World Relief Durham.

“My most vivid memories of DukeEngage remind me to value people for who they are and perspectives they can offer because of their own unique backgrounds, experiences, and histories. Sometimes we can learn the most from the people who seem most different from us,” she said. “This lesson holds true in every area of my life, no holds barred.”