Former Duke Students Make Forbes' '30 Under 30' List

Young and influential named for their impact on fields such as music, media, education and the sciences

Former student Joshua Sommer started the Chordoma Foundation.
Former student Joshua Sommer started the Chordoma Foundation.

They're young and they're leaders in their fields. When Forbes looked at influential young people under age 30, a number of former Duke students got the magazine's attention.

Forbes' "30 under 30" list gave a who's who of people who are changing music, media, the sciences, education, finances, food, biotech and other fields. Nine Duke alumni and former students made the list.

  • Brothers Eric and Ian Holljes, lead members of the group Delta Rae, made the list in Music.  Their sound is a raucous hybrid of rock, blues, gospel and country, and their 2012 recording "Carry the Fire" gained strong critical attention. The group will play Raleigh First Night this New Year's Eve. Eric, '09, and Ian, '07, are third-generation Duke graduates.
  • Jimmy Soni, '07, who was hired as managing editor of The Huffington Post when he was 26, was named to the Media list. At Duke Soni was a University Scholar who earned a Mitchell Scholarship for graduate study in Ireland.
  • Joshua Sommer, a former student now executive director of the Chordoma Foundation, was named to the Science and Health Care list. As a freshman at Duke, Sommer was diagnosed with the rare bone cancer disease, which had a low survival rate and little research. He immediately joined a research lab, later starting the foundation that has raised more than $2.5 million for chordoma research.
  • Kathryn Minshew, '08, founder and CEO of a career development platform The Muse, was selected as one of the Young Media Leaders. The site has had more than 2 million visitors, mostly young professional women. Before starting the company, Minshew worked with the Clinton Health Initiative on increasing access to vaccines in Africa.
  • Claire Herminjard, '05, CEO, co-founder and board director of California-based Mindful Meats, was selected to the Food and Wine list. Mindful Meats provides pasture-raised, certified organic and Non-GMO-Verified meat to markets. The company works directly with a select group of sustainably-minded farmers in Marin and Sonoma counties. While at Duke, Herminjard and a friend founded the Duke Moot Court for High School students.  Claire also studied in New York as part of the Sanford School's Leadership and the Arts program.
  • Dr. David Strauss, '05, M.D. '10, medical officer at the Food and Drug Administration. As an FDA researcher, Strauss has helped advance the predicting of how well patients will do based on electrocardiogram results. He was named to the Science and Health Care list. His work includes publishing 21 peer-reviewed scientific articles.
  • Dylan Smith, '08, is co-founder, chief financial officer at Box, a cloud-based content storage service. Smith made the list in Technology. He and high school friend Aaron Levie launched the company in 2005. According to Forbes, the high school buddies' company has a $1.1 billion valuation and some $70 million in sales.
  • T.J. Abrams, a Fuqua '09 graduate, was named in the marketing and advertising list for his work as brand manager for Coca Cola North America.