The Duke in Silicon Valley 2019 students represent a variety of majors and have unique talents and entrepreneurial interests – an outstanding group of Duke undergraduates! Read below to learn more about this year’s cohort spending the summer in California.

Miles Boxer



Miles is a rising sophomore at Duke University pursuing a double major in Public Policy and Economics. He grew up in Scarsdale, New York and currently lives in Manhattan. Miles is excited to visit Silicon Valley for the first time! He is interested in exploring the startup culture that the area is famous for and looks forward to learning more about the different career paths in tech especially when it overlaps with sports. At Duke, Miles is a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity and hopes to join Duke Sports Management next year. He also enjoys reading, watching TV, trying new foods, and doing yoga.

Nick DeCapite



Nick is a rising sophomore pursuing a major in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Computer Science, and a certificate in Innovation & Entrepreneurship. During his first year, Nick was involved in Special Olympics, the Investment Club, and different intramural sports. He chose to participate in the Duke in Silicon Valley program in order to speak to professionals in the technology industry and venture out to the beautiful west coast. In his free time, he loves to play basketball, read, and hang out with friends. He is interested in technology, entrepreneurship, and data science, searching for a career that can combine all three into his own company.

Jake Didner



Jake is a rising sophomore studying Economics and Computer Science in addition to his pursuit of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship certificate. Originally from Westport, Connecticut, Jake spent time living overseas in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Geneva, Switzerland where he developed his foreign language skills and passion for travel before moving back to Westport to complete high school.  At Duke, he is the treasurer of GANO, a student group that provides free English tutoring to the local Hispanic community, and serves as a tour guide for the admissions office.  He enjoys playing soccer, spending time with friends, running, and video editing.  Jake is excited to explore all that the Bay Area has to offer and is eager to gain insight into a multitude of potential career paths involving entrepreneurship and technology.

Alex Epstein



Alex is a rising sophomore from Dix Hills, New York pursuing a Computer Science major and the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate. Alex developed an interest in entrepreneurship as he worked alongside a mobile app startup throughout his high school career, and hopes to one day start his on venture. At Duke, Alex is an active member of the Sigma Nu fraternity and hopes to extend his entrepreneurial self next year by joining one of Dukes student-run enterprises. Having never been to Silicon Valley, Alex is excited for the program to provide him with important entrepreneurial exposure and demonstrate what is needed to launch, expand, and sustain an enterprise. He is also eager to explore what the Bay Area has to offer and hopes to gain insight into the operations of these innovative enterprises. Alex enjoys spending time with friends, is an avid movie watcher, loves to travel, and eat pizza.

Isabel Friedman



Isabel Friedman is a rising sophomore planning on double majoring in Economics and Philosophy and minoring in Computer Science. She recently joined Campus Enterprises, a student run business at Duke, and runs the Next Ventures division with three other members. This division manages four start-ups and is planning on adding a fifth this next year, under her supervision. Being a part of this business has given Isabel an introduction to the realm of entrepreneurship and innovation, an insight which she hopes to further through her engagement in the Duke in Silicon Valley program. In her free time, Isabel enjoys traveling and the outdoors, as well as spending time with friends and family. She is also an avid Dodgers fan, and loves to play sports. Isabel lives in Los Angeles with her parents, younger brother, and golden retriever puppy. After this program, she will be interning for Hudson Pacific Properties, a real estate finance firm based on the West Coast.

Vandita Garimella

Vandita Garimella Blog Picture


Vandita Garimella is a rising sophomore intending on studying Public Policy and Political Science with a Markets and Management Certificate. At Duke, she is an Analyst with the Duke Impact Investing Group, on the High School Mentorship Committee for Business Oriented Women, and will be on the Marketing Committee for DUU this upcoming school year. In her free time, she loves to watch TED talks, dance, and spend time with friends. Vandita looks forward to DSV as she is very interested in entrepreneurship and wants to learn more about how companies are using tech to impact their unique industries. She is also excited to learn more about how leaders of these companies work to create collaborative and innovative working environments that largely define the culture of Silicon Valley.

Ryan Gex



Ryan is a rising junior pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, a minor in Mathematics, and a certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Ryan enjoys playing sports with his friends, traveling with his family, and playing with his pets. While attending Duke, he is involved in Duke Motor Sports, club tennis and hockey, and is currently serving as the co-president of club golf. Since he was young, Ryan took interest problem-solving and collaborating on teams and believes these skills will bode well with Innovation. When joining the I&E program, Ryan yearns to understand how to evaluate project ideas to successfully execute all phases of the funding, development, and production processes. Ryan is looking forward to Silicon Valley as means of furthering this goal by listening and speaking to several Duke Alumni that are a part of the successful startup companies the group will venture to while in the valley. He anticipates gaining a vast amount of business insight and strategy from these companies that will supplement the Engineering degree he is working towards at Duke.

Tyler Hart



Tyler is a rising sophomore from Nashville pursuing a major in Economics, a minor in Computer Science, and a certificate in Innovation & Entrepreneurship. He is interested in entrepreneurship and business in general, and he chose to participate in Duke in Silicon Valley to explore the tech scene and gauge his interest in the industry. During the program, Tyler is excited to meet successful entrepreneurs, learn the basics of launching a venture, and work with innovative peers. Outside of the classroom, he hopes to experience San Francisco’s vibrant culture and to try many new restaurants.

Maddie Johnston



Maddie is a rising sophomore at Duke University and is planning on majoring in Sociology with a minor in Art History and a certificate in Markets & Management. She grew up in Lutherville, MD where she developed a strong passion for lacrosse. She decided on attending Duke University after being recruited her Freshman year of high school by the Duke Women’s Lacrosse Team. Maddie loves to spend time with family and friends and has a passion for fitness and nutrition. She believes Duke in Silicon Valley can help her apply her passions into entrepreneurship. Maddie is excited for Silicon Valley and the experiences she will gain.

Taher Khambati



Raised in Boca Raton, Florida, Taher is a rising sophomore that is interested in computer science and neuroscience. He is interested in medicine and hopes to complete the Innovation and Entrepreneurship certificate. Taher is also a shareholder of Duke’s largest student run business, Campus Enterprises, and is a co-director of the Blueprint division. Having never been before, Taher is extremely excited to immerse himself in the Silicon Valley culture and is especially interested in exploring the different startups that overlap medicine and computer science. At Duke, Taher is also an active member of the Sigma Nu fraternity and the Duke Men’s Club Volleyball team. 

Philip Liu



Philip Liu is a rising sophomore from Austin, TX intending to double major in Mechanical Engineering and Economics. As an inaugural A. James Clark Scholar, he leads entrepreneurial engineering initiatives on campus. Recreationally, Philip is a tour guide for the Undergraduate Admissions Office and the Pratt School of Engineering, a member on the Duke Student Alumni Board, a contributing writer to the DukEngineer Magazine, a member of the Duke Authenticity Project, the Co-Founder of the robotics service organization at Duke, and a flag football player. As former President and Co-Founder, he continues to oversee the STEM Advocacy Conference of Texas (SACOT), a program for high-school students to advocate for increased support and funding for STEM activities.

Sam Noyes



Sam is a rising Junior from Eliot, Maine who is pursuing a double major in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science.  Sam has had a longstanding interest in entrepreneurship and has experience working as a software developer for the Atlanta-based startup Mystro during high school.  He has developed and released two iPhone applications, both arcade games.  During the program, he hopes to deepen his knowledge of entrepreneurship and supplement his technical knowledge with business savvy.  Sam is also an avid surfer, skier, movie watcher, and played first base on his high school JV baseball team.

Josh Pardo



Josh is a rising Junior pursuing an Economics major with a certificate in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He was born and raised in Miami, Florida and his interests include stocks, start-ups, basketball, and golf. In the entrepreneurial field, he enjoys the technology, design, and entertainment aspects. He is very excited to hear about the process of growing a start-up and the fundamental foundations to build upon from the companies in Silicon Valley. He also looks forward to the course and to collaborate and grow with fellow students in the cohort.

Sophia Patterson



Sophia Patterson, a rising sophomore at Duke University, is from San Jose, California. She is currently an active member of Duke’s Asian Student Association where she serves on the organization’s programming committee. At Duke, Sophia is majoring in Computer Science and pursuing an I&E certificate. Although Sophia has lived in the Bay Area her whole life, she is really looking forward to further exploring all that the Silicon Valley has to offer alongside her peers from Duke. Later this summer, Sophia will be working with Maui Surfer Girls as a surf counselor. In her spare time, Sophia enjoys leisurely running, watching sunsets, and traveling.

Jack Rosenthal



Jack is a rising sophomore at Duke University pursuing a major in Public Policy and a minor in Economics. He was born in Los Angeles, but attended high school in Long Island, NY. Jack looks forward to experiencing the culture of Silicon Valley, but most of all, he is looking forward to immersing himself in a collaborative environment like Duke in Silicon Valley. During Jack’s freshman year, he joined the Sigma Nu fraternity. Some of Jack’s other interests include: socializing with peers, reading, listening to podcasts, planning social events, and relaxing in the sun.

Evan Seiden  



Evan is a rising junior from New York City majoring in Public Policy, minoring in Political Science, and pursuing a certificate in Innovation & Entrepreneurship. His interest in entrepreneurship has sparked from his involvement in Bull City Beds, a student run company which provides luxury bed rentals. As a shareholder and managing partner, Evan loves playing an active role within a small business. He hopes to sharpen his skills by immersing himself in the unique culture present in Silicon Valley. Outside of the classroom, his interests include New York sports, cooking, traveling, and philanthropy. This fall, Evan will be studying abroad in Florence, Italy.

Steve Shaw


Steve is a rising junior from Shirley, New York pursuing a major in Public Policy and a certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. At Duke, Steve is a board member for Circle K International, a Kiwanis affiliate and non-profit focusing on service in the local and global communities. Steve is also involved on the board for the Carolinas District of Circle K International and serves at the global level on a committee. Outside of school, he has an interest in local and state politics, having served as an intern for his local legislator and as a cabinet member of the NY YMCA Youth & Government program. Steve is looking forward to the Duke in Silicon Valley Program because he believes it will provide insight on how businesses scale from start-up to successful enterprise, which will be valuable knowledge in his future non-profit work.



Luisa Silva



Luisa Silva is a rising sophomore at Duke University pursuing a double major in electrical and computer engineering and computer science, and a certificate in innovation and entrepreneurship. As someone born and raised in Brazil, she is excited to explore Sillicon Valley and the Bay Area, while experiencing its unique atmosphere . At Duke, Luisa is an active member of the Delta Sigma Pi business society. She decided to participate in Duke in Sillicon Valley to learn more about the combination of technology and entrepreneurship that is present in the Bay Area, which she hopes will help her find her career path more easily. In her free time, Luisa loves to paint, play tennis, read and hang out with her close friends.

Emma Swill



Emma is a rising Sophomore at Duke University from South Florida. She is pursuing a major in International Comparative Studies and a certificate in Markets and Management. In her free time she enjoys travelling with friends and family and trying new foods/ restaurants. At Duke, Emma is involved in Business Oriented Women and serves as the Finance and Corporate Liaison for the Spring Business Conference, an annual conference that invites established business leaders to address the Duke community. In Silicon Valley, she is excited to learn about the amazing technologies and gain insight to what career she will want to pursue. She looks forward to exploring the Bay Area and immersing herself in the entrepreneurial culture of Silicon Valley.

Sarah Thomas



Sarah is a rising sophomore pursuing a double major in Public Policy and Psychology, and a certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Growing up in Jupiter, FL has given her a love for the water and sun, with boating and wake-surfing being some of her favorite hobbies. Other hobbies include playing soccer, running, hanging out with her friends and family, and reading. At Duke, she currently plays Club Soccer and is in the Duke Business Society, but is looking forward to getting even more involved with both on and off campus organizations in the upcoming year. She is interested in learning more about the unique methods that companies employ in Silicon Valley to connect with audiences from all over, and is looking forward to having her way of thinking challenged while being surrounded by new people and new ideas.

Michael Tian



Michael is a rising sophomore pursuing a degree in Biomedical Engineering and is currently on the pre-med track. He hopes to one day work as a doctor while also working with biotech startups and larger companies to develop innovative products. Born in Houston, Texas, he enjoys reading, working out, tennis, and ultimate frisbee. At Duke, you can find him dancing with Streetmed, an urban dance team, helping to organize fundraisers for student-led club, Simple Charity, or doing research to better understand how the brain works. Michael is excited for DSV to be exposed to the culture of startups and to the beautiful Bay Area. 

Sarah Walker



Sarah Walker is a rising sophomore at Duke University pursuing a degree in Public Policy, a minor in Psychology, and a certificate in innovation and entrepreneurship. Born and raised in southern Connecticut, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring the outdoors, and traveling to new places. Sarah is excited to experience the inspiring, inventive culture unique to San Francisco’s Bay Area as well as interact with the creative minds working in the innovation capital of our country.  She hopes to find ways to use entrepreneurship for positive social change. 

Alex Xu

Alex Xu[2] copy


Alex is a rising sophomore from Long Island, New York pursuing a major in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is interested in the applications of emerging technologies, such as robotics, automation, and 3D/virtual reality. At Duke, Alex serves on the executive board of Duke Academy of Model Aeronautics, a student-led organization that focuses on promoting UAV technology across campus. He also writes for the DukEngineer magazine and is member of the Smart Archaeology Bass Connections team. In his free time, Alex enjoys traveling, hiking, and outdoor photography. Through Duke in Silicon Valley, Alex is looking forward to learning more about entrepreneurship and commercialization in the tech industry. 

Lin Zuo



Lin is a rising senior at Duke University pursuing a double major in Statistical Science and Computer Science. She grew up in Shanghai and is very excited to visit Silicon Valley for the first time! She is interested in exploring the entrepreneurial culture in the area and hearing from experienced professionals who work at different companies. At Duke, Lin serves on the executive board of Duke Consulting Club and Business Oriented Women. She also enjoys reading, traveling, good food and spending time with friends and family.