Duke as a Home Away from Home
Student photos and reflections capture what shaped their Duke experience
Danya Belkin ’25
The Freeman Center for Jewish Life at Duke (JLD) has been a place that has provided me with tremendous formative experiences throughout my time thus far at Duke.
This special place on campus is significant to my experience as a student because of the support I have received to pursue my endeavors. Two examples come to mind.
First, when I was struggling to find my community on campus, JLD supported me in my desire to create a group of Jewish-Latino students. This group came to be known as "Jewtinos @ Duke", with over 50 members who share this unique identity.
Second, JLD provided a space for me to put on a conference last Fall called "Common Ground" focused on fostering greater understanding of the complexity and richness of Jewish identity. Since my arrival at Duke, JLD has felt like a home away from home for me and I am incredibly grateful.
Neve Greenwald ‘25
I am immensely grateful for Jewish Life at Duke (JLD), which has had a profound impact on my college experience. JLD has provided me with incredible opportunities, from participating in the Jewish Learning Fellowship to attending an Adam Sandler live show.
JLD has wholeheartedly embraced and incorporated my Latin heritage into their programming. They are the sponsor of Jewtinos, a club my cousin and I started to celebrate the intersection of Jewish and Latino identities.
The opportunities and support I have received from JLD have truly enriched my college experience and have allowed me to connect with my heritage.
Juliana Alfonso-DeSouza ’25
Cameron Indoor Stadium, and Krzyzewskiville more broadly, was the first place on campus where I truly felt a sense of belonging.
When I came to Duke in fall 2021, like many first-years, I experienced growing pains and often struggled with finding my place and people on campus. But that all changed when I attended my first Duke Men’s Basketball game.
Energy in Cameron is palpable. There’s something magical in jumping and screaming your heart out with thousands of other Dukies committed to one team and one moment. It’s being part of something bigger than just yourself. It’s to know that you’re a part of a forever Duke family and a global culture.
Regardless of whatever I may be going through, Cameron reminds me that I am, and will always be, Duke. Cameron is one of my favorite places in the world and has given me lifelong friends, and for that I will always be grateful.
Allison Falls ’24
From my very first day working in the Duke Identity & Diversity Lab, without any prior research experience, I felt like I belonged. I am grateful to Dr. Sarah Gaither, the lab managers, and fellow research assistants for always making me feel like I am part of the lab family.
Dr. Gaither has been an important mentor, from helping me during internship and scholarship applications to providing wisdom and advice about career plans.
My two years in the lab have taught me many lessons about the behind-the-scenes of research and helped me figure out what I want to do after Duke. Although I will not work in the ID Lab during my senior year, I know I can always visit, and the relationships I have made will continue.
Hala Mohammed ‘26
I consider myself extremely fortunate to be a part of the Baldwin scholars’ program. I constantly find myself surrounded by a group of incredible and accomplished young women.
I really find that the Baldwin House in Few and the Baldwin Scholars room in Smith Warehouse mean a lot to me because that is where I met really accomplished and amazing people that enabled me to question a lot of important things and consider who I want to become.
I did not have to put on a persona or pretend to be someone I am not, which is why I consider the Baldwin community an amazing place. Our retreat in Chapel Hill was a true bonding experience for all of us and I found myself crying, laughing, and being vulnerable with my fellow Baldwins. I cannot wait for the years ahead with every one of them.
What I take with me from this photo essay is the discovery and appreciation for the home away from home.
While I did not attend Duke, I’m positive no one at any college has ever had a faultless four-year experience. There are moments of discomfort, exhaustion and loneliness, and having a space that evokes comfort, safety, and belonging is integral when in need of a place to fall back on. To quote cliché home décor signage: Home is not a place, it’s a feeling.
When speaking with these students, many recounted feelings of positivity and retreat in these spaces; they could cry, laugh, scream, or be at ease among people without judgement. They wrote about times they felt vulnerable and how these places helped form their character and confidence in this transitory stage of life.
They captured moments from these spaces where even if these aren’t the places you might’ve picked, you can still understand that feeling. The happiness a physical space on campus can create where when you step into it, you are home.
-- Megan Hujber, Duke Alumni Engagement and Development