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Alumni Spotlight Blog

Featuring interviews and advice from Duke and BOW alumnae

Recent Posts

Spotlight on Apara Sivaraman, T'17

February 19, 2019 | By Sabrina Hao and Cole Zaharris

“Being President of BOW was the most rewarding experience I had at Duke, and I am so proud of the way that BOW always continues to grow and evolve.”

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Spotlight on Ilene Chen, T'15

January 15, 2019 | By Sabrina Hao and Cole Zaharris

“Graduating and entering the “real world” is the first time when your future is not clearly mapped out, and that can feel paralyzing. Just know that your first job will likely not be your last job, and you have the power to shape your future.”

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Spotlight on Jacquelyn Talpalar, T'11

November 14, 2018 | By Sabrina Hao and Cole Zaharris

"I've learned that if you want something, you have to take the initiative to make it happen."

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Spotlight on Emily Tan, T'17

October 30, 2018 | By Sabrina Hao and Cole Zaharris

"You’re not going to get things right the first time. Actually, you’re realistically going to stumble a few times before you really find your groove... Don’t be too hard on yourself."

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Spotlight on Lucy Cao, T'18

September 17, 2018 | By Sabrina Hao and Cole Zaharris

"Getting exposure to C-suite level executives from Fortune 500 companies across all industries at BOW functions not only inspired me, but also opened my mind to new opportunities and career paths I never would have learned about otherwise."

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Spotlight on Leighanne Oh, P'15, MS'17

August 17, 2018 | By Sabrina Hao and Cole Zaharris

"Just because something doesn’t happen the first time doesn’t mean it can’t happen later. There isn’t just one way to get to your ultimate goal or career as long as you remember every move is just another step to get to where you want to go."

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Spotlight on Pianpian Adelson, T'14

July 10, 2018 | By Sabrina Hao and Cole Zaharris

"I realized in life you can only achieve your goals by taking risks. Every successful person has taken risks and failed – you just need to learn from your mistakes."

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Spotlight on Samantha Abramson, T'09

June 10, 2018 | By Sabrina Hao and Cole Zaharris

"We as women need to keep working to support each other. Just because a woman is young doesn’t mean she’s not ready to lead. We should always give people the opportunity to reach and succeed."

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Spotlight on Kendall Murphy, T'13

March 25, 2018 | By Ekim Buyuk and Shruti Rao

"[Do] not put pressure on yourself to find the perfect first job. You will likely change your mind and switch roles, teams, perhaps even whole industries several times in your first few years. And that is healthy! Just make sure that you are being thoughtful and reflecting on each experience to identify what you liked and want more of and what you disliked and want to avoid in the next role."

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Spotlight on Courtney Montgomery, T'11

March 15, 2018 | By Ekim Buyuk and Shruti Rao

"The biggest challenge was learning to tune out what other people thought I should do and focus on what I believed was best for me. Everyone has an opinion, and most people want to convince you to their point of view. It took me a while to learn to listen to myself as well as the comments of others, then consider all the input and make a decision that was the right one for me."

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Spotlight on Jenna Garand, T'16

March 1, 2018 | By Ekim Buyuk and Shruti Rao

"Duke prepared me very well to be successful at McKinsey, and McKinsey has done a great job training me and providing me the resources I need, and empowering me to do well."

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Spotlight on Clare Murray, T'10

November 21, 2017 | By Ekim Buyuk and Shruti Rao

"[Meeting] BOW women helped me take a risk and try something totally different. I probably wouldn’t have had a career in finance had it not been for my early start in the industry."

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Spotlight on Gini Li, T'13

October 29, 2017 | By Ekim Buyuk and Shruti Rao

"I would advise students to really define success for themselves. Prestige and financial success are really important at Duke, but as you get older you see that people become successful in a variety of industries, even ones that you don’t know exist. I think the most successful people are the ones who love what they do."

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Spotlight on Dani Lefland, T'16

October 18, 2017 | By Ekim Buyuk and Shruti Rao

"It’s very respectable to bring a sense of humility when it comes to lack of experience, but combine it with an attitude of wanting to learn and soak in everything around you. Work as hard as you can and get the most out of what you do."

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Spotlight on Cydney Ross, T'12

September 28, 2017 | By Ekim Buyuk and Shruti Rao

"Passions don’t happen overnight and it often starts as an interest. I think the best way to find a passion is to begin with fostering your interests. What do you want to learn about?"

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Spotlight on Chelsea Ursaner, T'12

September 21, 2017 | By Ekim Buyuk and Marielle Rodgers

"Don't waste any time building something people don't want. The groundwork for building a business lies in conversations with (potential) customers and understanding their needs."

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Spotlight on Kristen Manderscheid, T'10

September 13, 2017 | By Ekim Buyuk and Marielle Rodgers

"Do not feel limited by trying to find an experience that exactly replicates your target career – rather, try to see how your experiences are interconnected and build upon one another to grow your skillset and provide insight into your own interests. The more you participate in learning experiences and reflect on them, the more you will be able to find the common thread of who you are and what you want from a fulfilling career."

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Spotlight on Rachel Leng, T'13

Summer 2017 | By Ekim Buyuk and Marielle Rodgers

"It is also never too early to start being a mentor, or never too late to be a mentee – it just really requires you to put yourself out there. By doing so, you will always be surprised by how many people are willing to open up and share insights with you, and how many people you can in turn shape as well."

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Spotlight on Orian Almog, T'09

Summer 2017 | By Ekim Buyuk and Marielle Rodgers

"[You] have a say in what is the right opportunity for you! But also, invest in your network and cultivate real relationships in your personal and professional life. I've gotten every job I've had through friends or ex-colleagues."

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Spotlight on Melissa Bernstein, Duke Alumna

April 21, 2017 | By Ekim Buyuk and Marielle Rodgers

"[My husband and I] felt that itch to be doing something that had greater meaning and made us feel like we were able to impact someone outside the corporations we were in. We were at the point where we didn't even think it was a choice, it was crucial to living to get off the treadmill and do something else."

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Spotlight on Heidi Zak, Duke Alumna

April 12, 2017 | By Ekim Buyuk and Marielle Rodgers

"I believe that to get into leadership positions you have to make yourself uncomfortable. So, I quit my well-paying job to start my own company. Being a leader is rewarding, exciting and stressful — all in the course of an average day."

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Spotlight on Tali Chuchinsky, T'12

April 5, 2017 | By Ekim Buyuk and Marielle Rodgers

"You'll be surprised at how many people will help you if you just ask. And remember, you’re not asking for much - almost everyone has the time for a brief phone call and if you’re lucky a coffee. It's part of planting seeds."

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Spotlight on Cong Ding, T'12

March 29, 2017 | By Ekim Buyuk and Marielle Rodgers

"As I progressed in my career, I encountered bigger picture decisions on both personal and professional dimensions that were often unrelated to my day-to-day tasks."

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Spotlight on Joanna Bromley, T'11

March 22, 2017 | By Ekim Buyuk and Marielle Rodgers

"Spend time thinking about the life that YOU WANT to build (both career and life), not the life that you think you should want to build, or others want to build."

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Spotlight on Kelly Froelich, T'13

March 8, 2017 | By Ekim Buyuk and Marielle Rodgers

"I learned that you should be learning every day. I learned that there are no right answers, but there are certainly wrong ones."

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Spotlight on Alison Lane, T'11

March 1, 2017 | By Ekim Buyuk and Marielle Rodgers

"Cultures are very different depending on who you're working with...but you do have to learn how to be yourself and let your personality shine through when you're interacting with groups across the world."

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