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Few sophomores attend new event

It wasn't quite the turnout they expected, but administrators called the first ever sophomore convocation Tuesday afternoon a success.

Only about 25 sophomores were in attendance in Page Auditorium to hear John Koskinen, Trinity '61, deputy mayor of Washington, D.C., and former chair of the Duke Board of Trustees, deliver his keynote address. But several hundred students joined them at a barbecue on the Main West Quadrangle afterwards to celebrate the first year of all sophomores living on West Campus.

"We certainly had hoped for a larger turnout, but the responsiveness was excellent," wrote Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences William Chafe in an e-mail. "Mr. Koskinen did a superb job and the question and answers period met all our expectations. So did the barbecue where Mr. Koskinen engaged in lively dialogue with students for more than an hour. So all in all, it was a good beginning."

Koskinen spoke of his years since coming to Duke--his path from the Physics Building to law school to his years in public service and eventually to the Clinton White House.

"I finally decided as I kept thinking about my career choices that the right test wasn't whether I wanted to be a Nobel Prize-winner, but whether I would enjoy a career in physics if I were just one of the guys," Koskinen told the audience. "I decided I liked people better than electrons."

Koskinen said the first step in understanding what is important in life is one's perception of oneself--not the perceptions of others. "Ultimately, you can't succeed at others' expectations," he added. "You can only be really good at things you love to do."

Koskinen encouraged members of the Class of 2005 to join a club, pursue an activity and do good in the community while at Duke.

"Take a course people love and you don't know anything about," he added. "Hang out with oddballs--it'll broaden your horizons."

Those in attendance said Koskinen's speech made them aware of what someone can do with a Duke education. "I came because I am interested in a career in public service, and I thought he gave a great speech," sophomore Pasha Majdi said.

Sophomore Celebration was the first of a series of speeches and events, including a sophomore majors fair, a distinguished lecture series and quad dinners.

Koskinen, who joked about trying to walk on to the football team as a freshman, entitled his address "Second Down and Goal to Go."

"Your first year took a long time, but the next three will be gone in a flash," he said.

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