Graduate/Professional Young Trustee finalist Nicole De Brigard, a third-year juris doctor candidate at Duke Law School, hopes to bring her unique set of life experiences and her passion for servant leadership to the Board of Trustees.
“What I think I can contribute is a diverse array of experiences to provide a unique perspective,” De Brigard said. “I’ve worn so many different types of hats, whether that be throughout law school, at a large state school, in the federal government, in my professional experience, academic experiences, and research experience.”
Originally from Miami, De Brigard majored in political science & criminology at the University of Florida. At UF, she served on the Dean of Students’ Conduct Committee as well as on the UF Student Government as junior class president. She is also a first-generation Colombian-American and college graduate.
At Duke, she is a James E. Padilla Scholar, the vice president of the Latin American Law Students Association, the graduate student representative for the Racial Equity Advisory Council, the president of the National Security Law Society and a member of both the Dean’s Advisory Council and the Dean’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.
De Brigard was a finalist for the same Graduate/Professional Young Trustee position last year as well, and applied again this year because she believes that the Young Trustee position would enable her to work for the benefit of the University at large. She has found her previous roles in administrative positions particularly rewarding.
“When you're catering to a broader interest, especially one as big as that of Duke University, I think there's a lot to gain for the greater good,” De Brigard said.
She named the Duke Science and Technology Initiative, investing in Durham relations, strengthening Duke’s global presence and capitalizing the University’s research efforts as priorities that she would like to focus on in coming years. In all of these conversations, De Brigard believes that “objectivity and ethical viewpoints are always necessary” and that her “experiences really speak to honing in on those skills.”
She cited her legal background as another unique strength that she would bring to the Board. Outside of Duke, De Brigard has worked as a legal intern for the U.S. Attorney's Office, as an Honors Intern for the FBI and, currently, as a policy intern at the Future of Privacy Forum.
She believes that these professional experiences help to strengthen her application this year in relation to last year.
“I think my values remain the same. I think my interests also remain the same. But I think my experiences have grown, specifically on the technology side,” De Brigard explained.
De Brigard believes that her wealth of experiences in administrative and advisory roles uniquely qualifies her to contribute to the conversations of the Board. She has seen the challenges of working within a bureaucracy firsthand and has collaborated with diverse groups of students, administrators, faculty and staff to find innovative ways to best serve the interests of the universities and communities that she has been a part of, she said.
“I really can’t imagine someone better suited to be a Young Trustee,” wrote Major General Charles Dunlap, professor of the practice of law at Duke Law School, in an email. He believes that the Board will benefit from De Brigard’s ability to engage in respectful dialogue, selfless approach to collaboration and informed and innovative perspectives on issues. “Nicole is one of those rare people who is super-smart, uncannily perceptive and has a ferocious work ethic, but who also is a very kind and thoughtful person.”
He added that De Brigard “is a very personable individual with a great sense [of] humor — I actually don’t know anybody who doesn’t like and respect her.”
Alyssa Reyes, a third-year juris doctor candidate at Duke Law School and the president of the Latin American Law Students Association, described De Brigard as a “doer” for whom “no mission is too large.” Reyes explained that De Brigard’s ability to create relationships and connect with people has been crucial to the association’s success.
“The things she's accomplished are truly remarkable,” Reyes said. “She's just so personable and relatable, and that makes someone as accomplished as her even more inspiring.” De Brigard’s diverse set of experiences would allow her to “bring a perspective that is just so relevant to today's changing social climate” to the Board of Trustees, Reyes added. “It would be a huge loss for her not to be on the Board.”
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Holly Keegan is a Trinity sophomore and a university news editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.