James Ferencsik: Engaged in Politics and Policy

Part of the Senior Stories, Class of 2017 Series
James Ferencsik: “It is hard to measure and express how much Duke has helped me grow as a thinker, a leader and a person. Duke has helped me realize that, while what you do matters, the people that you meet matter more.

James Ferencsik

Hometown: Savannah, Georgia
Major: Political Science
Minor: Arabic
Clubs/Organizations: Founding president of the Visions of Freedom Living-Learning Community, a group for Duke students who share an interest in politics.
What Duke has meant to you: “It is hard to measure and express how much Duke has helped me grow as a thinker, a leader and a person. Duke has helped me realize that, while what you do matters, the people that you meet matter more. My friends, my professors and my mentors have inspired me and challenged me to become the person that I am today. I owe Duke an enormous debt for that.”

As a social entrepreneur and activist, James Ferencsik is committed to tackling major social problems including waterborne disease and youth representation in politics. In 2013, James was awarded the Angier B. Duke Memorial Scholarship, an undergraduate merit award, to attend Duke. The scholarship is awarded to outstanding students who show promise of being intellectual leaders.

During his time at Duke, James spent two years running the Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council, which lobbied Congress and the White House to create a federal youth council. The bi-partisan, youth-led initiative seeks to advise the president on the perspectives of youth and offer recommendations on the design and implementation of youth policies.

James also founded a nonprofit organization, Sand for Life Solutions, which helps provide clean water and secondary school scholarships to two villages in Ghana. He identified biosand filters as an effective and efficient solution to help purify drinking water in the villages. Rather than simply creating filters for the two villages, James spent his time in Ghana training local people to produce the filters.

After graduating, James will pursue a master’s in international security at Sciences Po, France’s major university for politics and international affairs.