Alumni Enjoy Appreciation Breakfast with Dean Steelman, Learn about Go Grow Give Opportunities

Many Nicholas School alums are working at Duke University, and conversely, a number of Duke alums now work at the Nicholas School. The Office of Development and Alumni Relations wanted to recognize the commitment that these alums have made to Duke and hosted a special appreciation breakfast for them with Dean Toddi Steelman on Jan. 25.

Alumni enjoy breakfast while getting to know one another
Alumni enjoy conversation over breakfast.

While alumni enjoyed breakfast pastries, quiche, and other treats, they got to know each other with questions about what degree they earned, what their jobs are now, and what kind of fun or interesting things they do in their free time. For example, one alumni shared that he was on the news when he was 8 for being the best hula hooper in his elementary school, and another shared that she ran an ultramarathon (31 miles). Alumni at the breakfast also talked about their interests and hobbies, such as scuba diving, tap dancing, cooking, history, and travel.

Alumni said they were glad for the opportunity to meet and to learn about the community of other alums still working and studying at the Nicholas School or Duke.

“I enjoyed the opportunity to meet other alumni who are still at Duke for work or further education,” said Shannon Thoits, who is pursuing an MEM with a concentration in Business and Environment (BE) at the Nicholas School. “I had no idea there were so many of us! It was also one of the first times that I fully acknowledged that I am, indeed, a Duke alumna. Since I’m in the MEM program, most of the time, I feel like a student still. It was nice to realize, at the alumni appreciation breakfast, that no matter where I end up post-graduation in May, there will be a network of Duke alums I can tap into, knowing I share something in common with all of them.”

Glenda Lee addresses alumni at the appreciation breakfast.
Glenda Lee addresses alumni at the appreciation breakfast.

Farah Hegazi, who graduated with a Master’s from the Nicholas School in 2011 and is now pursuing her PhD here, said, “I’d love to see this event happen more often so that the introductions made have the potential to develop into something more long-term.”

Glenda Lee, the director of alumni engagement and programs, thanked attendees for their unique contribution to the Duke community. Dean Steelman gave some remarks and took questions from the alums. A spirited question and answer question ensued that touched on topics like diversity, faculty research, and the focus of the Nicholas School going forward.

“The breakfast was a great opportunity to (re)connect with local alumni and to get to know Dean Steelman,” said Maura Farver, a Duke and Nicholas School alum who now works as a senior behavioral researcher at The Center for Advanced Hindsight. “I really appreciate that she took the time to meet with the group and responded candidly to questions about how the Nic School is and should be changing.”

For more pictures of the Alumni Appreciation Breakfast, visit us on Facebook. For more information on how you can get involved, or to learn more about Go Grow Give, our signature alumni engagement program, contact Glenda Lee at