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“I studied international relations as an undergrad, but didn’t really have a great idea of what I wanted to do with that,” Ciara Couphlin explained about her undergraduate studies at Boston University, “so [joining the Peace Corps] was kind of trying out the development space… and also just opportunity for adventure.”

Woman looking into camera with her hand under her hand and head slightly tilted.
Ciara Coughlin

However, after her time in Cameroon, Ciara felt as if she had not yet gathered all the tools to start her career and came to Duke to pursue her Masters in Public Policy at Sanford.  She took courses in international development policy, while also developing the tools she was missing.

“I really valued being forced to take statistics and economics, the sort of things that gave me hard skills…the kind of thing that very few people are passionate about.” Ciara explained with a laugh. “But [they were] sort of the vegetables I had to eat to become this professional I came to Sanford to become.”

For Ciara and her husband Marcus Morrow MPP’16, one of the most important connections made through Duke was meeting each other. Their paths crossed when they both ended up in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 2015.  After graduation, Marcus taken a position with Deloitte, then moved to Booz Allen Hamilton as a federal government consultant just before Ciara came to D.C. for her internship.

“We had networks of people that we knew, and friends that crossed over… so we met through one of my classmates who was interning at the place where Marcus was working,” Ciara explained. The two hit it off immediately, bonding over their shared passions for policy and their experiences at Sanford.

After their whirlwind summer romance, Ciara moved back down to Durham for her second year at Sanford, and Marcus soon followed that winter. They conquered the feat of long distance after Ciara spent time in D.C. again after graduation, but in 2018, the couple was reunited, moving permanently back to Durham, and thankfully, Ciara said, “we were finally living in the same place.”