"'Live an upright life, and serve with all your heart.' On the day of my high school graduation, my father wrote this sentence in traditional Chinese calligraphy and gave it to me as a gift. These words have since become a standard that I try to live up to. As the son of a senior Chinese government official living in Beijing, I had a privileged and sheltered childhood compared to most of my peers. My father, however, grew up in rural China during a much harder time. [...] I did not have to go through anything like that. I had access to everything I needed, simply because I was born into an affluent family. However, my father made sure I understood that my privilege comes with a responsibility to help those less fortunate. I am privileged because I can choose what I want to do with my life. Many people never had the luxury of choice. I chose public policy so I can pursue a career that might help giving people the chance they deserve."
"I have been in Eastern North Carolina for three years where I taught. I’m focusing my work on social policy including but not limited to education and poverty. As an educator in Eastern North Carolina I very quickly realized that my ability to impact a lot of the things that were happening in the community that I was working in were very limited as a teacher. I felt like a lot of the policies I was forced to execute, I had little power to leverage to change that even thought I saw the impacts they were having on children, on the school, and in communities. I felt getting a Master’s in Public Policy would allow me the opportunity to really get a seat at the table of those policies that were impacting those communities."
A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. Trying to find an oncologist to provide a second opinion is difficult in many locations due to wait times or geographic distance, making decisions about treatment even harder for patients. Hua Wang PPS’03 is a cofounder and CEO of SmartBridge, a startup based in Washington, D.C. that connects oncologists with cancer patients who want a second opinion or guidance. Several members of Wang’s family had been affected by cancer and she saw the idea as a way to help others.
About 1.2 billion people in the world do not have access to electricity—and another billion lack reliable access. At Duke, Sanford School of Public Policy student Aubrey Zhang MPP’18 has opportunities to contribute to efforts addressing this global challenge. “Energy access is an important issue that presents an interesting set of problems,” said Zhang. “It’s about addressing poverty. It’s also about engineering, and of course, the environment.”
Using data to rate countries doesn’t just help us understand their behavior, it actually changes it. For Judith Kelley, the acronym GPA means more than “grade point average,” the term most familiar to her students. She also thinks of “global performance assessments” — public measures of performance that nations, nongovernmental organizations and private entities use to attract attention, shape debate, and—they hope—change behavior. Kelley studies how international actors influence domestic politics. “What can we do to get countries to stop mistreating people?” she asks.
"When I was a child, I would spend hours with my grandmother looking at her photo albums from traveling all over Europe, Africa, South America, and Asia. She showed me pictures of wildlife from the Galapagos, art from France and Italy, and engineering projects in China. From her kitchen table on the South Side of Chicago, my grandmother opened my eyes to the broader world and sparked a lifelong interest in reaching out beyond our borders. Following my first year at Sanford, I have had the great privilege of interning at the World Trade Organization in Switzerland. This summer, I witnessed and became a part of the international efforts to face down the growing challenges of an increasingly interconnected world. I never could have imagined the trajectory from my grandmother's kitchen table to the dais of the WTO, but I know I have her to thank for instilling in me a concern for others and an interest in international affairs. I don't know what my child self would think about who I have become or what I do today, but I know she would be elated to find herself following in her grandmother's footsteps and stepping out to face challenges beyond our shores." -Kate Lohmeyer, MPP/MBA '19
"I love a good challenge. To me, life without challenges is mundane. Geneva is a challenge. I spend my days navigating a new environment and culture. My internship pushes me to learn about a field in which I have no prior experience, which is emergency operation. I struggled initially to learn the frameworks and language that forms the foundation of emergency operation. In honesty, I have yet to make a dent in this pool of knowledge. It is a constant battle. Frustration is a part of my daily life here, as I get irritated at myself for making mistakes and not being sharper. However, within that frustration, I find my happiest moments in Geneva. Wait a moment, frustration and happy? How does that work? Well, simply put, I feel myself growing. I cannot put it into words, but I sense myself changing. Changes that are good. It is the mysterious feeling of change and growth that makes me happy." - Maithy Tranphung, MPP '18
"The ethics class I took for the Public Policy requirements - we talked a lot about health outcomes and inequalities and Scrap Exchange tackles that. They try to engage low-income neighborhoods and the community around here. Seeing that has helped me to apply the ethics that I have learned. I have taken [several] philosophy courses and there is a lot that I learned about the importance of community, the rights of a community, how it helps individuals to grow. Scrap Exchange is really big on trying to foster that sense of community, and help try to make itself part of Durham."
Since graduating from the Sanford School of Public Policy, Cynthia Viveros-Cano, MIDP ’04, has taken her expertise to conflict zones in South America and the Middle East, and to United Nations headquarters in New York City. Viveros-Cano is now stationed in Damascus, Syria, as a Humanitarian Affairs Officer for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Viveros-Cano’s role is help ensure aid gets to the people who need it most.
Phil Bennett, Eugene C. Patterson professor of the practice of public policy studies and journalism, has accepted a position as special projects editor of FRONTLINE, PBS’ investigative documentary series.
How do you save a hospital system? That’s the question Nancy Schlichting PPS ’76, had to answer when she took over as CEO of the Henry Ford Hospital and subsequently became system CEO. The Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System was losing millions, the city of Detroit was in decline, and employee morale was low. Schlichting and her team managed to turn the system around, bringing it to profitability by 2003.
"I grew up in a small village in Kenya, an informal settlement called Korogocho. It’s the third largest slum in Kenya. I heard of this scholarship by the Ford Foundation. It was extremely competitive. So I applied for this scholarship, and I got it. And it was a good scholarship because if you got it, you could go to any university in the world, provided you were qualified. Duke was always my first choice. Even if I got the scholarship now, I would still come to Duke." - Raphael Obonyo MPP’13