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Eight survive first young trustee round

And then there were eight.

The Young Trustee Nominating Committee announced the top eight candidates for the undergraduate young trustee position this weekend.

Although committee chair and Duke Student Government President C.J. Walsh would not disclose how many students applied for the spot, he said applications were up over past years and that the process went smoothly.

"We were looking for well-rounded individuals and a lot of different perspectives on the University," Walsh said, adding that both the semifinalists and the applicant pool were diverse.

Six out of the eight candidates have worked in Duke Student Government at some point over the past four years, but Walsh said affiliation with DSG did not play a role in the committee's selection.

"I think what really stood out was stuff outside of DSG," Walsh said. "Also, the committee is not DSG-related at all." The group is made up of members of the Intercommunity Council, a group of student leaders from numerous governing bodies and student groups.

Walsh added that gender also did not play any role in the selection process, though seven of the candidates are men.

"The committee read the applications without any bias, and simply went for the best applicants."

The candidates--who if selected will serve a three-year term on the Duke Board of Trustees--will be interviewed this week, and the three finalists will be announced Jan. 27.

The Legislature and the nominating committee will make their selection Feb. 6.

The candidates

  • Michael Calvo, a political science major with a history minor, is a former Kappa Alpha Order president, a four-time DSG legislator and a two-year member of the First-year Advisory Council Board.

"I have great reverence for the University, I think it's a position that would suit me well and I hope to bring a young perspective to the Board," Calvo said. He cited a realization of the University's master plan and strategic plan, and a strong finish for the Campaign for Duke as important issues.

  • Vik Devisetty is a double major in chemistry and political science with a minor in religion. He is the Campus Council president, chair of Last Day of Classes and was a DSG legislator for two years.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to stay involved with the University past graduation and to keep close ties with Duke," Devisetty said. He pointed to the strategic plan, the Campaign for Duke and residential life as top priorities over the next several years.

  • Sara Elrod is a four-year member of DSG, a member of the FAC Board and a two-year student representative to the Board of Trustees' Buildings and Grounds Committee.

"Being part of the Legislature for the past four years, I've seen how important the young trustee is, and what an what an honor and privilege the position is," Elrod said. The history and political science double-major named completing the Campaign for Duke, addressing the housing and programming space needs of students and realizing the long-term strategic plan as top goals for the University.

  • Drew Ensign is a public policy studies and economics double major with a minor in political science. Ensign is executive vice president of DSG and has served as chair of the Student Organization Finance Committee and DSG's vice president for academic affairs.

"I think the position would be a natural extension of my years of serving in Duke Student Government, and a way of extending my dedication to Duke," Ensign said. He cited implementation of Duke's strategic plan and an improvement of Duke finances and student quality of life as key issues in the next several years.

  • Adam Grossman is the co-founder of Fundraising Initiatives Enterprising Leadership for Durham Sports, a group that helps raise money and organize coaches for the Durham Bulls Youth Athletic League. A public policy major, he is also a member of the Duke PALS and College Bound community service programs.

"I think Duke does a great service to the community by putting a student's perspective on the board and I think it would be a great opportunity to help bring Duke to the next level," Grossman said. He said he wants the University to focus on connecting students' studies with their passions, as well as on the diversity of the campus.

  • James Herriott, current managing editor and former city and state editor of The Chronicle, is an economics major.

"I have been privileged to contribute to the University through The Chronicle, and I hope to continue it through the platform of Young Trustee," Herriott said. He proposed changes revolving around West and Central Campus residential life, the future of the genomics initiative and the Board of Trustee's role in choosing a new president if President Nan Keohane steps down as expected following the Campaign for Duke as key issues.

  • Bunia Parker is an economics and African and African-American studies major with a markets and management certificate. He is the student co-director of the Community Service Center and of the African-American Mentoring Program and served as a DSG legislator for a year.

"I have a deep love for Duke University, and I wanted to give back to the University that has given me so much," Parker said. He pointed to an extension of Duke's physical infrastructure, especially in science and engineering, the Campaign for Duke and the University's commitment to address graduate student issues as top priorities.

  • Sean Young, an economics and computer science double major, is currently the residential life liaison for DSG and executive vice president of the Asian Student Association. Last year, he served as DSG's vice president for community interaction and chaired the Young Trustee Nominating Committee.

"When I graduate, I am going to miss being a part of helping to improve this university, and I believe I share the Board's vision and long-term thinking nature," Young said. He promoted renovations to the campus village, recruiting and deepening the faculty and implementation of the master plan as it relates to parking as important issues.

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