After the first month of school, most freshmen have signed up for more listservs than they can keep track of. LB Bergene is the name that appears on the weekly email from which no one can unsubscribe.
After getting her start at Duke as a residence coordinator for Kilgo Quadrangle in 2003, Bergene has been the Associate Dean for East Campus Housing, Dining and Residence Life since 2004.
“I like the energy and creativity that the students bring to campus,” Bergene said. “First-years are the most open to new possibilities, and it is the year when students experience the most growth and change.”
Although Bergene works most directly with students who are struggling with academic and health issues or her assigned academic advisees, she often encourages students to just stop by her office to say hello.
Her myriad responsibilities include supervising other residential staff, managing budgets, working on New Student Programs, advising students, overseeing trademark events such as Bricks to Stone—and of course, sending out the weekly class email with events and University information.
During her time at Duke, Bergene helped create the Duke Authenticity Project and develop leadership retreats for house councils and graduate residents.
After 20 years working in housing, Bergene has picked up a few bits of advice for newcomers.
“Choose your own Duke,” she said. “With the number of opportunities both academic and social on campus, there is no one right way to be successful.”
She particularly urged freshmen to get to know their classmates and their stories.
“Make time for real conversations with people and take the risk of sharing your story with others,” Bergene said.
She noted that her own path to working in higher education grew out of the experiences she had working with her peers as a resident assistant and facilities manager at her alma mater, Marquette University. In undergrad she started out as a biology major, thinking she would become a physical therapist, but later switched her major to history of philosophy and went on to get a master’s in counselor education. She recently completed her Ph.D. in education at North Carolina State University. She wrote her dissertation on how students grieve, in which she talked to students whose family members or friends had died.
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