Three undergraduate seniors have been selected as this year's Young Trustee finalists.
Young Trustees are current students selected to be on the Board of Trustees for two or three years that must “demonstrate an ability to think broadly about the university.” There were 19 total undergraduate applicants this year, according to Margaret Epps, secretary to the Board of Trustees and chief of staff to the Duke president.
Seniors Drew Flanagan, Sydney Hunt and Effie Mehbod are this year's selected undergraduate finalists.
The open meeting for undergraduates to meet their respective Young Trustee finalists is scheduled for March 21 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m in the Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room in Rubenstein Library.
Flanagan, a statistical science major, served as last year’s chair of the Student Organization Finance Committee. In this position, he worked with cultural and identity leaders to increase diversity-related programming, transparency about resource allocation and diversity of SOFC applicants. He also partnered with Mi Gente, Duke's largest Latinx student organization, and administrators to accomplish two of the group’s demands.
He is currently the student director of belonging, a position under Student Affairs and the Office of Undergraduate Education. In this position, he co-launched Fun@Duke, a QuadEx initiative, in November with Student Affairs and Duke Student Government.
Flanagan, who is from Montclair, N.J., is also an undergraduate representative on the Board of Trustees External Engagement Standing Committee, an undergraduate member of the Racial Equity Advisory Committee, a board member of New Student Orientation and senior class president. He has also volunteered at local public schools and worked on research projects on online learning at Duke after COVID-19 and remote sensing technologies.
Hunt is a Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholar double majoring in electrical and computer engineering and computer science, with a concentration in artificial intelligence and machine learning. She is also pursuing a minor in gender, sexuality and feminist studies.
In her time at Duke, Hunt has focused on STEM retention and diversity through co-establishing the nonprofit CS Sidekicks, which brings “computer science curricula to public school students with limited exposure,” being a SPIRE Fellow and Duke Technology Scholar, and working on research that seeks to address the gender gap in STEM. She also founded the annual “Don’t Waste Food Points” food drive in 2021, which resulted in over 5,500 meals donated to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.
Hunt, who is from Cornwall, N.Y., has also served on the President’s Council of Black Affairs and is a Duke tour guide.
Mehbod is studying public policy and Asian & Middle Eastern studies. She currently serves as an associate vice president of the Academic Affairs Committee on DSG and the Arts & Sciences Council's Committee on Undergraduate Teaching, Academic Standards and Honors.
She helped spearhead the Blue Devil Buddies mentorship program, launched Spark Your Career!, a panel focused on career readiness, and advocated for expanding students’ ability to use Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading.
Mehbod, who is from Minneapolis, Minn., is also involved in Swing NC Duke, a political outreach committee, has conducted Bass Connections research on nationwide jail policies, and is a member of Delta Sigma Pi, a business fraternity.
Young Trustee selection process
The nominating committee for the Young Trustee is selected by the secretary to the Board of Trustees and chief of staff to the Duke president, currently Margaret Epps. This practice started in 2021.
In prior Young Trustee election cycles, the YTNC membership was chosen by the University secretary and the DSG president. Any undergraduate student other than the DSG president was able to apply to be on the YTNC.
Both the Undergraduate and Graduate/Professional Young Trustee selection process underwent very similar revisions in 2021 in order to “increase awareness and understanding of the Young Trustee position, enhance transparency to ensure fairness and inclusion, and align with best practices in board governance for private universities,” Epps told The Chronicle in 2021.
The Chronicle previously broke down these changes and the details of the new selection process.
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Milla Surjadi is a Trinity junior and editor-in-chief of The Chronicle's 118th volume.