Duke Sanford is a vibrant community of change makers - and no one's story is the same! Weekly during the school year, we share a short profile - in their own words - of a student, faculty member or staff on the Humans of Duke Sanford Instagram page.


Gary Alvarez MPP'25

I am a first-generation student, so neither my parents nor my grandparents went to university. Sometimes people from lower-income countries, think we won't make it in the U.S. The education is so demanding or so difficult. But there’s a lot of potential in Bolivia, South America, Africa or Asia. That’s why I chose to come here in the first place, to learn as much as I can, to get the skills I need. Maybe make contacts through networking and then use that in Bolivia. It is a bit heartbreaking to leave my family behind, my friends behind, but it's also exciting to make new friends, to adapt to this new lifestyle.

In Bolivia, it’s common for every family to have one or two or more family members who have migrated. And many come undocumented. I'm the first one in my family to come here with documents and have the U.S. sponsoring my education. I want the world to know that Bolivians are full of potential and talent. I can’t wait to go back to Bolivia and work to create more opportunities for everyone to thrive. – Gary Alvarez MPP ’25

Read Gary's story

Kathryn Anderson 4+1

I came to Duke originally planning to double major in Public Policy and Environmental Science. But after taking classes at Sanford I found myself more drawn to the big-picture planning of public policy than the more detail-oriented work of a scientist. At Sanford, I did an independent study project with Professor Nicholas Carnes. I took an elective with him called Climate Politics, and he suggested that I develop an assignment I had done for the class about wind energy opposition into a research project. The idea is that if you reach out to people and understand why they oppose renewable energy projects, you can do more to alleviate those problems in the future and make renewable energy policy more inclusive.

I learned about the accelerated master's program, also called the 4+1 program, during my freshman spring.  So I finished my major, minor, and Trinity requirements within three years at Duke to apply. Planning it out took some foresight since a lot of classes within the major lead into each others. And now, what is technically my senior year of undergrad, I’m taking first-year courses for an MPP degree.

Taking master’s level classes is exciting. It's nice being able to walk into Sanford and recognize so many people. I still get to see my undergrad friends, and I’ve gotten to know a bunch of people in my master's class. 

Read Kathryn's story

Tell us your story!

Want to tell us your story, or do you want to suggest someone for us to feature? Email us: ssppduke@gmail.com


Humans of Duke Sanford is a social media project for our community to share information about themselves and their stories and aspirations. Our team works hard to celebrate diverse members of our community. Our communications team interviews each Human of Duke Sanford that becomes a published piece. Once content is posted, we review comments we receive to ensure that they follow Duke’s community standard guidelines and academic freedom guidelines. Our team encourages civil discourse when commenting, following Duke’s Community Standards.  Our sharing of these stories is not an endorsement of a particular viewpoint or position.