And the 2023 Duke Time Off Photo Winners Are …

Meet the grand prize winners and see 18 other amazing photos from staff and faculty

A man diving in a pool and a landscape.

GRAND PRIZE: Kevin Tirado

Man diving into pool.

For the past two years, Kevin Tirado Roman, a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves and a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist at Duke University Hospital, has been part of the U.S. team in an international pentathlon competition featuring NATO countries.

In June, Tirado spent time in Denmark, Sweden and Finland training and competing in the event, which combines rifle and pistol shooting contests, obstacle courses in water and on land, and an orienteering challenge.

“Only a very small group of people get to represent the U.S.,” Tirado said. “I was really fortunate to be given the opportunity to go. I’ve always enjoyed doing athletic things, so this was almost made for me.”

For the Duke Time Off campaign, Tirado shared a photo of himself diving into a pool – fatigues and all -to start the swim obstacle course during a training session with soldiers in Sweden. The shot was selected as one of our grand prize winners, which earned Tirado a one-night stay with breakfast for two at the Washington Duke Inn.

GRAND PRIZE: Susan Pratt

River from the air.

For the past three years, the COVID-19 pandemic forces Susan Pratt, Program Director for Duke Immerse, to pause her regular trips to the western U.S. to enjoy the outdoors. But in June, she took her first trip back, this time to explore New Mexico with her sister, Marion Pratt, Director of Global Careers at the Sanford School of Public Policy.

“We’re very outdoorsy and active, so we packed a lot of activity in 10 days,” said Susan, who hit a personal milestone by setting foot in New Mexico, the 50th state she’s visited. “

Along with hiking, white-water rafting and horse-back riding, the Susan and Marion took a hot air balloon ride which took them high above the Rio Grande River.

“It’s not like being in an airplane, it’s like floating on a cloud,” Susan said of the flight. “You can see people on the ground and animals and all sorts of stuff from up above. It was pretty great.”

The photo Susan snapped from the sky, showcasing the rugged New Mexico terrain, was selected as one of the grand prize winners for the Duke Time Off campaign. Susan will receive a Walking with Lemurs tour for four with Duke Lemur Center Executive Director Greg Dye.

Person by waterfall


Duke Forest program coordinator Maggie Heraty submitted numerous photos from her summer adventures, which included a 10-day trip to Iceland with her partner, David, in late May.

The couple took the trip to celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary and Maggie’s 31st birthday and enjoyed hiking, camping, whale watching and other adventures. This photo, taken May 28, shows Maggie standing in front of the Dynjandi waterfall in the western region of the island nation.

“In part, we took this time off because going to Iceland has been a long-time dream for both of us,” Heraty said.

In recognition of her submissions, Heraty has been named this year’s shutterbug and will receive a “Proud To Be Working@Duke” T-shirt and insulated shopping bag.


Stephanie Belvin

Camp on a beach.

In June, Stephanie Belvin, an Administrative Coordinator in the Department of Surgery, joined family members on a four-day camping trip to Cape Lookout National Seashore. It was the fourth year in a row Belvin and her crew camped out on the stretch of uninhabited shoreline, providing a welcome dose of serenity.

“We use this time to completely unplug, literally, there’s no cell service,” Belvin said. “We all have a pact to turn phones to airplane mode for the long weekend to be present with each other and nature all around us. This gives us an opportunity to truly reset and refresh and we look forward to it every year.”

Kids looking at a city.

Rohini Thakkar

During a trip to Switzerland, Rohini Thakkar, a Program Coordinator with the Duke University Center for International and Global Studies, snapped this photo of her son and his friend enjoying a quiet evening along the riverfront in Lucerne.

“We wished to create lasting memories away from the distractions of technology,” Thakkar said. “Initially disappointed for not having access to their beloved video games on their iPad, the children soon found themselves entranced but the beauty of Lucerne’s Old Town. In a world where bustling cities and busy schedules dominate our lives, this photograph serves as a poignant reminder of the simple joys that nature and exploration can bring to young hearts.”

Child with a fish

Jessica Lamm

Jessica Lamm, a Medical Record Coder with the Department of Pathology, shared this photo of her grandson, Griffin, checking out a fish his grandfather caught during an outing at Lake Mayo. Lamm reported that, while slightly skeptical of the fish, 15-month old Griffin eventually worked up the nerve to touch it.

“We believe in making memories, so we actually bought a travel trailer during COVID for camping,” Lamm said. “We have been traveling around camping on weekends ever since.”

Ameer Hamdan

In recent years, Dr. Ameer Hamdan, Hospital Medicine Specialist with Duke Regional Hospital, has visited around 14 national parks. But in June, he got to visit Grand Tetons National Park and, for the first time, Yellowstone National Park.

During his visit to Yellowstone, Hamdan captured a stunning photo of the Grand Prismatic Lake. While his visit features stunning vistas of the landscape and appearance by bears and bison, the colorful hot spring was as memorable as any.

“It was otherworldly,” Hamdan said. “I’d seen pictures of it, but to see it in person, it was so impressive. I’m glad I got to experience it.”

A woman by her front door.

Amy Bowes

Amy Bowes, an administrative manager in the Global Education Office, closed on her first home in Durham on June 28.

“I used my vacation time to unpack and put away my belongings, then to rest and enjoy my space before heading back to the office,” Bowes.

A child playing in the ocean.

Casey Fisher

Over Memorial Day Weekend, Duke Primary Care Meadowmont Licensed Practical Nurse Casey Fisher relaxed at Holden Beach with her parents. During her visit, she snapped this photo of her 4-year old son Christopher enjoying the surf.

“This truly captures my son radiating pure joy while playing in the water,” Fisher said. “We love spending quality time with my parents at the beach.”

A car racing.

Elbrus Batca

In July, Elbrus Batca, a Research and Development Engineer with Duke Biomedical Engineering, took the 1974 BMW 2002tii he’s been working on for 13 years to a nighttime Tar Heel Sports Car Club autocross event at Southern National Motorsports Park near Lucama.

“It’s really fun, I like going fast,” said Batca, who reaches speeds up to 80 miles per hour on a course which forces drivers to make quick turns and strategic decisions. “And all of the people in the club are great people.”

With the race being after dark – most events are during the day, Batca added green LED lights to his car, making the action photo he shared even more memorable.

A proposal.

Leslie Arroyo

Seeing the natural beauty of Switzerland had been a goal of Duke Cancer Center Patient Care Technician Leslie Arroyo and her boyfriend, Yosef, since they started dating in college. In late May and early June, the pair finally made the trip happen.

While they some of the breathtaking locations they visited were somewhat crowded, when they got to the scenic village of Lauterbrunnen, there were few others around. That’s when Yosef took to one knee and proposed, as seen in the photo Arroyo submitted.

“He proposed, I said yes, and we took in the amazing scenery,” Arroyo said. “It was the perfect moment.”

A monkey on a woman.

Allison Wordsworth

Allison Wordsworth, a Duke University Hospital Health Unit Coordinator, spent nine days with her family in Costa Rica in July. During a cruise down a jungle river, she saw snakes, crocodiles, tropical birds, and iguanas. As seen in the photo she shared from the trip, she also got an up-close encounter with a monkey named Jaco.

“I am so glad I got the opportunity to take time off and spend time with my family in such a beautiful place,” Wordsworth said.

A couple on a mountain

Paquita Burnette-Thorpe

Paquita Burnette-Thorpe, an administrative coordinator in Speech and Audiology within Duke University Health System, didn’t have to travel far to find adventure this summer.

In late June, she and her husband enjoyed a staycation, which included an excursion to Hanging Rock State Park in Stokes County, North Carolina.

“We hiked up the mountain to experience some fresh air and beautiful views!” Burnette-Thorpe said.

A father and son.

Nikita Poujai

In April 2020, Duke Global Health grants and contracts administrator senior team lead Nikita Poujai had to cancel a trip to Europe with his son, Oliver, because of COVID-19.

This summer, the father-son duo rescheduled their journey, making small trips to spots like Abbaye Notre Dame de Sénanquein in Gordes, Frances, while visiting family.

“We were finally able to go to Switzerland and France this summer to visit my parents that we have not seen in person since 2019,” Poujai said.

A sunset at the lake

Lorie Robertson

Lorie Robertson, a physician liaison and quality manager for Duke University Health System, enjoyed a summertime sunset out on the water of Carolina Lakes in Sanford, North Carolina this summer.

“Sunset,” Robertson said, “my favorite time of the day!”

A family

Noa Borkan

Duke Primary Care clinical dietitian Noa Borkan and her wife Danya Holtzman, a social worker at Duke Family Medicine, enjoyed taking their 4-month-old daughter, Aviva, on a weekend getaway to Asheville in June that included hiking.  

“The hike was beautiful, but she slept through most of it,” Borkan said. “As new parents, we have to balance our time off between taking care of her and enjoying the summer and showing off the beautiful nature of NC to Aviva let us do both!”

A family in Alaska

Jay Legrant

Jay Legrant, a projects coordinator for Building Maintenance, took his wife, Shannon, and daughters, Raven and Tamryn, on a week-long Alaskan cruise this summer.

Their trip included exploring the mountains and rivers nearby, learning about the history of the gold rush in the state and seeing the Mendenhall Glacier, one of the largest glaciers in North America, located in Juneau.

"The weather every day was wonderful, between 50 and 60 degrees," Legrant said. "A nice change from the summer heat."

A family in London.

Victoria Yap

Duke assistant nurse manager Victoria Yap and her entire family crossed off a big bucket list experience this summer, taking a trip to Europe. A highlight of the journey was visiting Buckingham Palace in London.

“Just like any big goal in mind, it was not anything with challenges,” Yap said. “But we stayed focused and disciplined on the goal despite the odds. It was one for the books and has created meaningful and lasting lessons and memories for the whole family.”

Dog at the beach.

Courtney Orning

Each summer, Courtney Orning, Director of Communications for the Social Science Research Institute, takes a trip to the beach. And for the past 16 summers, she was accompanied by Paige, a devoted golden retriever. Orning shared this photo from a trip to Topsail Island this summer.

“(Paige) can no longer run in the surf, chase birds, or do Zoomies in the sand, but she is totally content being with her people at her favorite place,” Orning said.

Sadly, Paige died in August.

People on camels.

Jenna El Hafez

During June and July, Jenna El Hafez, a Financial Analyst with Duke University Health System, took her 10-year old son Cameron to Jordan, the country where she was born and raised. She hadn’t been back to the country since 2009 and cherished the opportunity to have her son meet her family.

During their stay, they enjoyed time at a resort on the Red Sea and visited the ancient city of Petra, a side trip which saw Cameron experience riding a camel for the first time.

“It was truly an unforgettable experience,” El Hafez said. “Cameron can’t wait to share his adventure at his school. I’m so glad I could use my Duke time off to make these memories with him.”

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