Sanford School of Public Policy Celebrates “Firsts” at 2010 Graduation Ceremonies

Selim Selimi MIDP’10The 2010 graduation ceremonies on May 15 for the Sanford School of Public Policy honored 147 undergraduates, 56 Master of Public Policy graduates, and 37 Master of International Development Policy graduates from 21 countries. The Class of 2010 was the first to graduate from the Sanford School, which became Duke’s tenth school on July 1, 2009.

Dean Bruce Kuniholm told the graduates, “Terry Sanford founded the public policy program with the goal of creating graduates with not only ‘an abiding concern for justice’ but also ‘an intellectual sharpness’ and an ‘ability to think straight now and throughout life.’ You have those tools, and I’m confident you will find opportunities to use them to the benefit of us all.”

The graduate student ceremony featured alumna speaker Ashley Files MPP’83, deputy executive secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Files reflected on her career in government service and the importance of doing the small things that, over time, have a large impact.

Marie E. Aberger and Joy K. Cheek were named co-winners of the Terry Sanford Leadership AwardDuring the undergraduate ceremony, Marie E. Aberger and Joy K. Cheek were named co-winners of the Terry Sanford Leadership Award. Aberger of Cranston, R.I., and Cheek of Charlotte, N.C., both interned in the White House last summer with Vice President Joe Biden. Aberger has been hired as a communications assistant in Biden’s press office and Cheek, a member of the Duke women’s basketball team, was drafted by the WNBA Indiana Fever.

Elana M. Berger of Livingston, N.J., received the Joel Fleishman Distinguished Scholar Award for highest academic achievement in public policy studies. She completed an honors thesis titled Selling America: U.S. Public Diplomacy Programs in the Middle East and South Asia in a Post-9/11 Environment.”

Julia J. Chou of Milwaukee, Wisc.,won the Best Honors Thesis Award for her research project titled, “Food for Thought: The Effectiveness of Inpatient Malnutrition Treatment in the Case of Nutre Hogar in Panama.” Chou, who earned a global health certificate, is featured in this video by the Duke Global Health Institute.

In his address, undergraduate student speaker Zachary R. Graumann encouraged his classmates to make the most of the memories and experiences they created during their four years at Duke.

The first annual Susan E. Tifft Teaching and Mentoring Award was presented to Professor of the Practice of Public Policy and Political Science Evan Charney. Charney was recognized for receiving consistently high evaluations from students, and for the intellectual stimulation his courses offer. The award is named for Susan Tifft, the Eugene C. Patterson Professor of the Practice of Communications and Journalism from 1998-2009, who died in April after a long battle with cancer. Her husband, Alex Jones, told graduates Tifft found her calling in the classroom at Duke. 

A record number of students – 21– were recognized for completing undergraduate honors theses this year. Additional undergraduate public policy majors who completed honors theses and graduated with highest distinction or distinction in public policy are: Marie E. Aberger, Sara K. Berg, David P. Chou, David P. Clain, Allie Cordell, Stefanie G. Feldman, John Reed Gilbert, Courtney M. Han, Albert Karcher, Eric B. Kaufman, Catherine M. Lawrence, Gabrielle E. McGlynn, Rebecca Ouyang, Swathi Padmanabhan, Christopher F. Reed, Zahra Remtulla, Alexis M. Rosenblum, Zachary West and Langtian Yuan.

Alyssa B. Dack was among the Duke graduates chosen for the William J. Griffith University Service award for outstanding service to the Duke community. Dack, who also won Greek Woman of the Year, was president of her sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, and worked to secure shared Panhellenic space on Central Campus.

Student speakers for the graduate programs were Selim Selimi MIDP’10 and Anthony Oddo MPP’10. Selimi, of Kosovo, spoke of the changes he and his classmates witnessed over the last two years, from the election of President Obama to the transformation of the Sanford School.

MIDP Graduates Celebrate“We learned that change does not have a color, race, religion or social status,” Selimi said. “It is best achieved from the bottom up, through grassroots mobilization and community organizing. … During these past 2 years, we were able to see that no matter what part of the world our countries are in, or how far apart we live, we all face similar challenges in terms of development and poverty reduction,” Selimi said. “Development is not a local or regional concern.  It is a global concern that cannot be achieved without alleviating poverty.”

The MPP Outstanding Student Award went to co-winners Jaime Rooke and Sean Smith. The award recognizes outstanding academic achievement and leadership.

Professor of the Practice of Public Policy Phyllis Pomerantz received the 2010 Richard A. Stubbing Graduate Teaching/Mentoring Award. This award recognizes outstanding contributions to the teaching mission of the graduate programs of the Sanford School, including the MPP, the MIDP, and the PhD programs. It also recognizes deep commitment to the intellectual, professional and personal development of graduate students.

Nine graduating MPP students received Presidential Management Fellowships this year: Lauren Akers, Christina Alaimo, William Carroll, Sarah Cordes, Justin Elswit, Daniel Kobayashi, Nicholas Minter, Megan Stacy and Gwen Tobert.