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Adam Petty has worn just about every DukeEngage hat that exists. He participated in the Uganda-Kaihura program in 2013 and returned as a site coordinator in 2016. He’s presented to the DukeEngage Advisory Board, volunteered at the Fortin Foundation DukeEngage Academy, and worked as a program coordinator with ACE, a DukeEngage-like program for student-athletes.

What are you doing now academically/professionally?

I (or rather, the pandemic) put a pause on my career in higher ed/international education, and I spent summer and fall 2020 volunteering with the Libertarian presidential campaign. I was the Event Execution Manager on a bus tour that held outdoor, socially distanced events in over 30 states.


Adam petty standing in front of campaign sign for 2020 political candidates Jorgenson and Cohen.


How did DukeEngage influence you and what was the most meaningful part of your experience ?

DukeEngage, along with my friends and community partners in Kaihura, taught me the value of community in the workplace. Most of us (when we’re not working remotely) are going to spend half of our waking, weekday hours at work. It sure helps to surround yourself with people you enjoy! I’ve held a range of jobs since graduation, but no matter what sort of job I’m interviewing for, I always ask myself if I can picture myself integrating into the workplace community. Are these the type of people I want to be around, work alongside, share a common mission with? This also works the other way: am I creating a place where students, workers, and volunteers feel welcome and valued? Community is a deeply human value, but one that is missing in many people’s lives today. People who feel valued don’t just stay longer and contribute more; they live an altogether more satisfied life. There’s often pressure in the workplace to get so caught up in profit margins and data that we neglect the foundation these are built on. Good management assumes responsibility for the workplace well-being of employees, not just the results they deliver. When one has a strong sense of community and shared values at the workplace, the days feel a lot less like work, and results come naturally.


two men--Amos and Adam--standing in a open field in Uganda


Are you still connected to DukeEngage? If so, how and why?

I am a member of the DukeEngage Alumni Engagement Task Force. I have also volunteered at four DukeEngage Fortin Foundation Academies since my own cohort’s.

Do you think DukeEngage is an important program? Why or why not?

DukeEngage is a one-of-a-kind program, uniquely suited to the goals and personalities of Duke students. It pushes students out of their comfort zones, asks hard questions and encourages deep personal reflection, and covers a wide range of professional and academic interests. There’s really no other college experience like it.

What’s one thing you want people to know about DukeEngage—in general or about your particular experience?

You’ll find yourself asking tough questions throughout your summer, and after. Odds are, someone else is thinking the same thing. Ask your peers about their reflections, share your concerns with your program director or site coordinator, ask a community partner for their perspective. Keeping your thoughts to yourself doesn’t add value to anyone’s experience, least of all your own. Remember, the name is DukeENGAGE, so be ready to dig into a deeper level of engagement than you expected.