Chinmay Pandit found his appreciation for teaching in his first class at Duke, and it’s been the driving force behind his Duke experience since.  

The senior is running for Young Trustee because he wants to make the University more accessible, noting that the value of a Duke education comes from the diversity and multiculturalism that accessibility fosters. 

“I care very deeply about this University and about the policies that affect students’ lives,” he said. “I have the breadth of experience and the experience on the Board [of Trustees] itself to translate so many of the experiences and opportunities we’ve had to improve what future generations are going to enjoy at Duke.”

Pandit is an economics and political science double major, and has played club soccer for three years at Duke. He’s been a teaching assistant for Economics 201 for the past six semesters. 

He has served on the Board of Trustees’ Business and Finance committee as a student representative for the last year. That experience is critical, he explained, because the term of a Young Trustee only spans eight meetings–so it’s important that they don’t have to spend the first couple getting their feet under them. 

The senior said he views his familiarity with a wide range of experience in the Duke community as a key quality of a Young Trustee.

“Though you are not a student representative, you are one of the few points of contact who has had a recent engagement with [current students],” he said.

The son of a data analyst and a mechanical engineer, Pandit said his parents were surprised when he took a social science-driven route. He was born and raised in Fort Collins, Colorado, where his parents settled after immigrating from India in the 1980s. Their journey and tutelage have instilled in him a “deep appreciation for putting everything I have into all that I have,” Pandit said.

He is also a Robertson scholar, and it was during his community summer that he got to try out his passion for teaching outside of Duke. 

“I’ve found over my couple of years here that I really love teaching,” Pandit said. “I’ve been a [teaching assistant] for six semesters, I’ve taught seventh grade math in rural Mississippi. I’ve had students in rural India make fun of my weird accent because they’re expecting something very different when they saw [me].”

His independent research has focused on public financing in higher education, and he wants to dedicate his career to building schools around the world. His experience as a teacher in India taught him that teaching is all about “collaboration, learning, listening and understanding how to create an environment that is conducive to the success of students of all different backgrounds.” 

Pandit hopes to take those lessons to the Board.

“I want to help Duke...figure out how we can create an environment here—where students are coming from all parts of the world—[so] they can all come here and thrive and figure out what they want to do with their lives and what is meaningful to them.”

He’s also been involved in Duke Political Review, which has given him the chance to think, write and interact with people who have different ideas, he said. It’s also given him the chance to mentor enthusiastic first-years, like Ibrahim Butt.

Butt, a sophomore, said that he got involved with DPR through Pandit. One of Pandit’s best qualities, Butt said, is his willingness to consider people’s ideas when considering what to do in any situation.

“This guy really cares about what everyone is saying,” Butt said. “He’s super passionate about it, but he doesn’t let his passion overdrive other people’s passions and he really gets people involved. That’s just one of the things I love about Chinmay, he really allowed me to have a voice in DPR.”

Sue Wasiolek, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, taught Pandit in a public policy course. She highlighted his willingness to listen and weigh in on controversial issues.

“From a professor’s standpoint, that is exactly the type of student that you want in class—someone that is forthright, thoughtful and can support their opinion with facts and with substance, but is always leaving the door open to hear what others have to say with a willingness to change their own opinion,” Wasiolek said.