Graduate/Professional Young Trustee finalist Jay Lusk, a fourth-year medical student and second-year MBA candidate, is committed to actively breaking down the barriers that prevent all voices at Duke from being equitably represented.
Lusk told The Chronicle that he has held this core commitment since his first day as president of Duke’s Graduate and Professional Student Government. He witnessed firsthand “how challenging and complex it is to run an organization like Duke” during the early portion of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lusk believes his time as GPSG president made him an effective listener that knows how to ask the right questions, bring the right perspectives to the table and ensure the Board knows what to ask. He began to think about how the University as an institution touches the lives of students, faculty, staff and members of the Durham community.
He described Duke as an “educational ecosystem” with “students at all levels of different educational tracks with different educational philosophies, goals and missions [coming] together to contribute to each other’s education and … to the health of society.” Lusk said that the role of the Board of Trustees is to bring harmony to this ecosystem and create an interdisciplinary environment where the Duke community benefits from its diversity.
To Lusk, the most important characteristic of a Young Trustee is bringing the greatest diversity of voices to the table, effectively catalyzing discussion and opening the Board’s eyes to “things they wouldn’t necessarily otherwise be exposed to.” He believes that it is important to recognize that historically Duke has “failed to bring a lot of perspectives to the table” and that it is the role of the Board of Trustees to be “actively equitable instead of passively” and make conversations democratic.
As a future physician, Lusk considers it his duty to make the world a better place and what motivated him to pursue this role was the belief that he could accomplish this goal as a trustee.
“If we want for our society to be the kind of equitable, just, healthy, happy society that supports human beings to live meaningful and fulfilling lives, we have to first and foremost create higher educational institutions that support the diversity of the entire population,” Lusk said. “Fundamental to societal transformation is the effective functioning of educational institutions, and that includes institutions of higher education like Duke.”
In addition to his work as former GPSG president and School of Medicine student representative, Lusk has served as a member of the Board’s graduate and professional education and research standing committee and the strategic education program. He is currently the speaker of GPSG.
Professor of Neurology Daniel Laskowitz wrote that Lusk has been an effective advocate and brings a clear sense of vision and perspective as a student representative for the School of Medicine.
“He is one of the most remarkable and effective people that I have had the opportunity to work with in my 25 years at Duke,” Laskowitz wrote.
Abigail Leinroth, a sixth-year doctoral candidate in the department of cell biology, wrote in an email that during his tenure as GPSG president, Lusk was “astounding” and made her proud to be involved in the organization.
“He knows and understands the nuances of the different populations of graduate students better than anyone I have met at Duke,” Leinroth stated. “His understanding of how to navigate the administrative and [Board of Trustees] space coupled with his deep commitment to, and understanding of, the needs of the [graduate and professional students] at Duke will make him a fantastic Young Trustee.”
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Ayra Charania is a Trinity junior and a senior editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.