In Our Own Words: Black Pathways at Duke is a brief foray into the experiences of Black students at Duke University. I was prompted to write this essay in response to the controversial study released earlier this year titled What Happens After Enrollment: An Analysis of the Time Paths of Racial Difference in GPA and Major Choice. When I first came across this study I was appalled by the presumptions it made. This project gave me the freedom to offer my own thoughts about the study and speak more broadly about Black community at Duke. Through interview clips and my own writing voice, I present a deeper look into the Black community and ultimately reject the assumptions made by the article.
I first became interested in this project because I was trying to integrate my own experiences and simultaneously raise awareness about an issue. I had no idea what could incorporate both until Professor Harris started talking about the study. It seemed to be the perfect topic!
When I started with this project, the scope felt way too large. I was really excited and I thought I could create a feature length Imovie chronicling Black Duke students. I wanted to talk to professors and students about the study and perhaps even attempt to refute it. I realized quickly those efforts would be futile. I hadn’t the time, experience, or resources to accomplish that goal. Instead I had to focus on just relaying the experiences of a few students integrated with my own writings. That proved to be much more feasible. As for interviewing professors, that proved much harder in reality than theory. First off, all the professors I talked to were too busy or blew me off. Apparently the end of year is busy enough without another student vying for your attention. In the end the incorporation of only students was just what I needed. By interviewing students I truly got to delve into their experiences and opinions and I think my presentation is better for it. Second, having professors probably would have widened the scope of my paper – something I certainly didn’t need.
As I continued with the project I experimented with various mediums. At first I wanted to use I-movie but the amount of text in my presentation was more conducive to a powerpoint-like format. Powerpoints seem to be both antiquated and boring so I opted for sliderocket. This format had a lot of fun features but still prioritized the message I was trying to convey. It was a perfect match!
Once I found the format, all that was left was putting together the argument. Since it was a subject I was passionate about, it wasn’t too difficult. I really enjoyed expressing my own opinion and going back through the clips for interview material. Ultimately, my journey could not have been complete with out the very useful advice of my teammates! They were an indelible resource that really helped this presentation come together.
I thoroughly enjoyed completing this project. I hope that my viewers will appreciate it and learn something in the process!