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Graduate YT finalists nominated

Three students are vying for one spot to represent the University’s graduate and professional students on the Board of Trustees.

The Young Trustee Screening Committee of the Graduate and Professional Student Council has chosen three finalists for the position of Young Trustee. The finalists are: Malik Burnett, a fourth-year in a joint MD and MBA program at the School of Medicine and the Fuqua School of Business; Will Evans, a second-year Slavic and Eurasian studies masters candidate; and Felicia Hawthorne, a fifth-year genetics and genomics doctoral candidate.

The finalists were chosen last week from a pool of 22 applicants, compared to last year’s 30. The GPSC General Assembly, which represents the graduate and professional student body, will vote on the finalists at its meeting Feb. 21, said Katherine Duch, chair of the YTSC and third-year public policy studies doctoral candidate. This closed election is one of the primary differences between the undergraduate and graduate Young Trustee processes.

“The finalists are all outstanding candidates,” Duch wrote in an email Monday. “They understand the responsibilities of the Young Trustee position, they recognize areas where the University could improve, and they are passionate about working to create a stronger community and a better campus.”

The YTSC, whose members were chosen by the GPSC General Assembly in September, reviewed each applicant’s resume or curriculum vitae and a statement outlining their interest in and qualifications for the position as well as their vision for the University. The YTSC selected eight applicants to interview before choosing Burnett, Evans and Hawthorne as finalists.

Each year, one graduate and one undergraduate are chosen as Young Trustees. The undergraduate Trustee serves three years on the Board, one year as a non-voting member and two years as a voting member. The graduate Young Trustee serves a two-year term, one year as a non-voting member and the second year as a voting member.

The finalists for undergraduate Young Trustee—seniors Kaveh Danesh, Michael Mandl and Olly Wilson—were selected by the Young Trustee Nominating Committee last week. The undergraduate student body will vote on the finalists Feb. 10.

Burnett, Hawthorne and Evans stressed the importance of making graduate and professional students a priority to the Board.

Burnett, who graduated from Trinity College of Arts & Science in 2007, said that in his ninth year at Duke, he has seen the same issues affect graduate students year after year. These issues include health insurance, parking and representation on campus. A Young Trustee, he said would have the opportunity to bring these issues to the table and focus on making Duke a better place for his or her peers and maintaining the Duke University Health System’s ability to provide quality care to North Carolina.

“With a lot of new masters degree programs coming online in the past two to three years, there is an opportunity to look at the graduate student experience in a more intentional way,” Burnett said.

Evans said he also has experience representing students from across the campus as a GPSC representative at alumni association meetings, where he has had the opportunity to interact with several Trustees. Evans will be living in Durham next year, so he would be able to continue meeting with students on campus on a regular basis.

“I will stay on campus and try to meet with people, find out what their concerns are and what they might change about the schools and what the Board can do for them,” Evans said.

Hawthorne, who currently serves as GPSC president, said her extensive experience working with the council has prepared her to represent the interests of the graduate and professional student body. This is a challenge because graduate and professional students are enrolled in an array of programs, making it difficult to establish a unified voice.

“We have so many individual schools to work with, and [the Young Trustee must know] how that works with the University at large,” she said.

Hawthorne noted that she is already familiar with campus issues—such as the globalization of Duke’s brand and upcoming capital projects—and how they are dealt with at the administrative and Board levels.

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