Emily Yagoda aims to ‘connect, empower and transform’ in bid for DSG president

Emily Yagoda
Emily Yagoda

Running on the platform “connect, empower and transform,” Duke Student Government presidential candidate Emily Yagoda hopes to amplify diverse student voices on campus, facilitate collaboration with student groups and promote open communication. 

The junior from Long Island, New York, is majoring in biomedical and mechanical engineering. Yagoda serves as the Class of 2025 president and Engineering Student Government’s vice president of student outreach, works as an executive board member of the debate team, tutors for CHANCE and is a manager for the Duke softball team. 

Yagoda believes that she bridges important gaps on campus through her identities as a Pratt engineer, religious student, member of the LGBTQ+ community and an athlete. Although these may share little in common, she said they all reflect her commitment to promoting inclusivity and diversity. 

“I like to say that I'm standing on the border of the four corners, and I just want to reach my arms out wide, hug everybody in and bring us all closer together,” Yagoda said.

Yagoda named inclusivity as a priority in her campaign. She hopes to provide specific leadership opportunities for more students in the Pratt School of Engineering, Duke Kunshan University, athletics and ROTC — which she calls the four most underrepresented groups in DSG — to make the DSG more representative of the student body. 

Yagoda said that her work on the board for club funding within ESG reflects her commitment to fostering inclusivity.

“When we had the conversation about including a DEI position in the Engineering Student Government, I was the first to say that was a fantastic idea and also the first to say that it doesn’t mean anything unless we put power behind it,” she said.

For her pillar “connect,” Yagoda emphasizes the need for DSG to foster collaborations with student groups and among committees. 

“I think everybody wants to come to the table and say I'm involved in A, B, C. So when you elect me, A, B and C are going to show up to the table,” she said. “But I'm not about that. I want to find D, E, F. I want to look towards the clubs and organizations on campus that I don't currently have a say in and work on that as well.” 

Yagoda noted how cross-collaboration can effectively tackle social issues students face. Similar to a program at Tulane, she believes that collaboration between Greek Life and Duke Emergency Medical Services can be mutually beneficial to provide Duke EMS with valuable hands-on medical support experience, while also enabling them to act as first responders at off-campus locations where few ambulances are zoned.

“I don’t think our best ideas will come from one cabinet, just academic affairs or just services and sustainability,” Yagoda said. “I think it will come from the intersection of these groups, taking the strengths of each committee and bringing them together to form those initiatives.”

Yagoda’s pillar “empower,” derived from her nickname “Em,” involves expanding educational opportunities by pushing for academic credits for experiential learning, varsity athletics and co-curricular programs.

She believes the lack of course credits for experiential learning has led students to prioritize summer internships and credits toward majors over opportunities to make an impact in the community. 

“One of my favorite quotes is that I don't want my learning to get in the way of my education,” she said. “I don't want to spend so much time in classrooms that I give up the opportunity to volunteer with the Duke community or to travel halfway across the world to experience a culture I've always dreamed of seeing.”

To Yagoda, to “transform” the campus means greater transparency from DSG to the student body. As DSG president, she hopes to establish an open line of communication where students can directly engage with the administration through regular office hours of “casual conversations.” 

“I won't just take meetings with President Price or Mary Pat and I won't channel my time only into student groups,” she said. “I want individual students to come up to me, whether that be at Marketplace, BC Plaza or the co-lab.”

Junior Kaelyn Pieter worked with Yagoda on an independent study project to make a set of size-adjustable Heelys.

“Emily was a great partner and a leader by example: she took charge of our budgeting, material acquisition, and project timeline. She has excellent communication skills and is able to work cooperatively with others,” Pieter wrote in an email to The Chronicle. 

Junior Eliana Durkee, president-elect of ESG, met Yagoda as ESG’s newly elected Class of 2025 president and cited the sense of community she brings as the reason she joined ESG. She describes her as the “number one cheerleader” on the ESG board, “a role model for younger students in Pratt” and the “perfect bridge between Pratt and Trinity.”  

“Emily is the perfect person to represent others, because… she makes every effort to understand them,” Durkee wrote. “[She makes all of these efforts] not as a member of ESG, or as a DSG presidential candidate, but just as Emily.” 


Lucas Lin

Lucas Lin is a Trinity first-year and a staff reporter for the news department.       

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