A Look at the Class of 2018

Guttentag on the range of interests and accomplishments of new Duke undergrads

class of 2018

The 1,700-plus members of the Class of 2018 come from 47 states and 47 countries -- stretching from  Baltimore to Bangalore -- but that just taps the surface of who these new additions to the Duke community are, said Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions. 

In his annual address at the undergraduate convocation Wednesday morning, Guttentag pointed out some of the more fascinating details about the incoming class, including the fact that this is the first time in Duke history that half of the incoming class are people of color.

Their accomplishments range from the inspiring to the eye-opening.  The class includes:

  • One of the top “24 under 24” changemakers in public policy;
  • An actress who has appeared in the John Adams miniseries on HBO, Law & Order, and a Sundance-screened movie;
  • A sprint kayaker who has won both Hungarian and U.S. national championships;
  • The only high school student singing in an elite Parisian choir;
  • An instructor in Duke’s Biosciences & Engineering summer program who also has been an herbology research assistant at UNC and an award-winning documentary filmmaker;
  • Two students who have worked on the research and development of water filtration systems -- one was the only high school student nominated for Texan of the Year;
  • The CEO of BacktrackMusic, a networking app for artists, record labels and managers;
  • A research assistant on Madagascar who became a production assistant on the IMAX documentary “The Island of Lemurs: Madagascar” (which happens to be showing in Raleigh this week);
  • A dog agility trainer with 30 state titles and a national title;
  • The National Junior Piano Solo winner, who was also Gold Medalist at the First Seattle International Piano competition;
  • The publisher of two novels;
  • 1 of 15 global finalists for Google Science Fair;
  • And the N.C. Cardboard Boat junior racing champion in both the single paddler & multi-paddler category

Guttentag said the students have already started creating and collecting Duke memories. Asked to post their favorite Duke moments to date, some of the responses that stand out so far include:

  • My mom says my dad smiles in his sleep
  • When my entire class chanted "nerd" at me for five minutes.
  • My dad runs up the driveway, picks me up (he hasn't done this since I was 5) and twirls me around yelling. It was great!
  • My English teacher made the class give me a round of applause … then he went on to explain why Ohio State is better
  • I got a standing ovation from my Math class as I walked in late to first period
  • My friend (who never gets emotional) snapchatted me, crying, because she was so happy for me
  • My econ teacher told me a couple weeks ago that Duke was impossible to get into and would never happen for me. The look on his face when I told him I got in was priceless.
  • I'm at my academic team meet, and I find out I got into Duke between matches, so I call my parents and put them on speaker phone and when I tell them I got accepted my mom just screamed for like a solid minute straight.

Below: Christoph Guttentag addresses the Class of 2018 Wednesday. Photo by Megan Morr/Duke University Photography