Undergraduate Young Trustee finalist Effie Mehbod believes her love for Duke, her realistic mindset and her campus involvement make her a good fit to serve as a Young Trustee.
Mehbod, a senior from Minneapolis, Minn., is studying public policy and Asian and Middle Eastern studies. As a midwesterner, Mehbod said she grew up exposed to “a majority of people who have political opinions in the middle of the political spectrum,” which she believes has given her the ability to see both sides of an issue.
Mehbod has also been influenced by her father, who lived in Iran up until the Iranian revolution. She believes that her relationship with the region has also taught her to understand the different sides of a conflict.
“That intertwining of my upbringing between my mom growing up in the Midwest and my dad from the Middle East has really led to my culmination of values and outlooks,” Mehbod said.
Mehbod points toward her work at Duke as examples of upholding her ideals. She most values her experience with Duke Student Government, where she is currently the associate vice president of the Academic Affairs Committee.
“The skills that I've learned through student government are very transferable to the trustee position and have prepared me for it,” Mehbod said. “Critical thinking skills, pragmatism, becoming a good listener, learning how to promote equity and accountability and being empathetic to students.”
As a member of DSG, Mehbod has worked on multiple projects but pointed to her substantial involvement in spearheading Blue Devil Buddies, a mentorship pairing program aimed to help ease the transition for incoming first-year students, and in launching Spark Your Career!, a panel on career readiness aimed at sophomores. She views both efforts as a way to advance equity and accountability, values she holds close.
Civic engagement has also been at the forefront of Mehbod’s Duke experience. Mehbod was part of the political outreach committee for Swing NC Duke, in which she helped students register to vote and focused on voter outreach. Mehbod has also held policy-centered internships as a Congressional intern, policy analyst, and campaign intern respectively.
“I’ve been involved with a few different political groups and that’s helping ensure civic engagement among the student body and helping promote that desire to be a good citizen,” Mehbod said.
With values being a high point for Mehbod, she wants to make sure that as a Young Trustee Duke holds itself to a high standard, ensuring the role it plays in higher education is a priority.
“Ensuring that universities continue to uphold their principles, even if the legal landscape makes it more challenging to do so,” she said.
To make sure university principles are upheld, Mehbod emphasized the importance of recognizing the different perspectives that go into making broad decisions, noting, “every individual's perspective is just one of many, and you need all pieces of the puzzle, all those perspectives in order to see the full picture.”
Mehbod has always attempted to take into account multiple perspectives while serving her roles, especially as a DSG senator and DSG liaison to the Arts & Sciences Council Committee on Undergraduate Teaching, Academic Standards and Honors. Even as a senior on the cusp of graduation, Mehbod plans on staying connected to undergraduates, faculty, Duke news outlets and various organizations to “remain intimately connected to the community.”
“I think the Young Trustee is obviously a steward of the University and it's what I see this position as. It is an opportunity to continue to give back to the community,” Mehbod said.
Sophomore Jax Nalley, vice president of DSG’s Academic Affairs Committee, met Mehbod last year as a first-year senator and has come to see her as a mentor within DSG.
Through working on multiple projects together throughout their time in DSG, Nalley has been most impressed by Mehbod’s temperament which he thinks fits the Young Trustee role. Nalley cited her ability to be grounded and to take into consideration multiple viewpoints.
“I just think that that is such a rare trait to have someone that is that articulate,” Nalley said. “Someone that is able to create solutions that are human-centered, but at the same time make sense and are rooted in values that meet multiple needs at once. I don't know many people like that.”
Frank Bruni, Eugene C. Patterson professor of the practice of journalism and public policy, is currently teaching Mehbod in his America in the Age of Grievance class and taught her last fall in his opinion writing class. What most stands out to Bruni about Mehbod is her open mindedness, not feeling the need to dominate conversations and her personability.
“Pair that with a real kind of sensitivity to others and a real consideration of ceding the stage to others when it's important, taking into account other people's feelings and Effie is just a good, good person,” Bruni said.
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Michael Ramos is a Trinity first-year and a staff reporter of The Chronicle's 118th volume.