English doctoral candidate Bill Hunt said he would better the University’s student environment for his peers as a graduate young trustee.
Hunt is a sixth-year graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in English literature with a focus in American literature and Middle East studies. Hunt has served for five years on the Graduate and Professional Student Council—as president, vice president and head of the Young Trustee Selection Committee—and is involved in bringing the graduate student body together, preparing him for the young trustee position. He noted that the council has become a major part of his identity.
“I’ve learned how the University works and the group dynamics between students and faculty that produces great outcomes,” he said. “I hope I’ve made a positive contribution to graduate student life.”
The final elections will take place Feb. 18 with only GPSC members voting.
Growing up in rural Virginia on 25 acres “in the middle of a swamp,” Hunt said that he could not pick and choose his friends, so he was forced to befriend anyone around him. This experience has taught him how to interact and accept a variety of people.
“I can find something to share and a common identity with every other human being on the planet,” Hunt said. “I bring versatility.”
Hunt’s advisor, Priscilla Wald, professor of English and women’s studies, attested to Hunt’s reliability, communication skills and ability to be inclusive.
“He is very deeply thoughtful and very open-minded and kind, and the kind of person who is very aware of his surroundings and very eager to have as many people participate and entertain as many points of view as possible,” Wald said. “He listens before he makes up his mind.”
As a bankruptcy paralegal and finance manager for various nonprofits in the United States and the Middle East before coming to Duke, Hunt became cynical about the necessity for funding. His experience working on grant applications for nonprofits made him a realist. He said that although administrators spin everything in a positive way, it is often more gray.
“It gives you a perspective on how if you want to accomplish great things, you need to have money to do those things,” he said.
Kevin Modestino, Hunt’s colleague and also a Ph.D. candidate in English, vouched for Hunt, saying he was supportive. Modestino and Hunt have known each other since the beginning of Hunt’s graduate career six years ago.
“I’ve always thought highly of his insights both in the classroom and how, as a department, we can interact with the institution,” Modestino said.
Modestino noted that Hunt gets along with the majority of the people he meets, especially in the English department. He added that Hunt also succeeds at involving the English department with the larger institution.
“He is a really easy-going guy but also very confaident with working with different people,” Modestino said. “He gets along with other people in the department pretty well. He’s good at understanding how people can help.”
Hunt said that after graduate school he hopes to pursue a career in teaching and higher education.
“It really is fun to teach undergrads because the vast majority of undergrads are learning who they are,” Hunt said. “What we teach people in the humanities is to read and be critical of not only their lives but also their relationships.”