Meet the Students 2024

The Duke in Silicon Valley 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!

Kami Akala

Kami is a rising junior from Rockville, MD. She’s majoring in Computer Science and pursuing the I&E certificate. She looks forward to being DukeAFRICA’s programming chair as well as continuing to dance with NakisaiADE next year! In her free time, she enjoys rollerskating, making waistbeads, or staying inside to watch a comfort show (shoutout Futurama). She’s excited to explore Silicon Valley for the first time while getting to meet some new people during the program. She’s particularly looking forward to learning more about the union between creativity and technology.

Dillon Callen

Dillon is a rising junior from Pawlet, Vermont. At Duke, he is pursuing a major in Computer Science, minor in Economics and a certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In the fall he will be going abroad to Dublin and is excited to do lots of traveling with his friends and explore different parts of the world. On campus he is involved with Campus Enterprises, Special Olympics and First Generation Investors. He is eager to explore various tech careers while in Silicon Valley, aiming to acquire the necessary knowledge and entrepreneurial skills needed to succeed there in the near future.

Karen Dong

Karen is a rising junior from Dallas, TX and Taizhou, China. She plans to major in Computer Science and Visual Media Studies with a certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. At Duke, she’s a University Scholar, and she’s involved in DTech, Duke Impact Investment Group, and two acapella groups – Lady Blue and Temptasians. You’ll probably also find Karen trying new restaurants, giving campus tours, watching Netflix documentaries, going to concerts, and spontaneously traveling. At Duke in Silicon Valley, she looks forward to learning more about startups and furthering her entrepreneurial projects.

Ella Etchandy

Ella is a rising Sophomore from Orange County, California studying Biomedical Engineering with a minor in computational Biology and Bioinformatics and an I&E certificate. Ella is a freshman rep for Society of Women Engineers and will be Vice President of Alumni Connections next year. Ella likes to spend her time reading, exploring Duhram by trying new restaurants and spending time in the Gardens and BC plaza with her friends. Ella hopes to learn about the Tech Industry and the world of startups in Silicon Valley and is very excited to be starting the program!

Alex Free

Alex is a rising sophomore from Santa Barbara, CA. He intends to major in Computer Science and is pursuing an I&E Certificate and a Psychology minor. He is an avid photographer and is active in sports photography for Duke’s Chronicle newspaper. In his free time, he listens to Travis Scott and plays fantasy football. Fun fact: he’s also a German citizen!

Luke Fu

Luke is a rising Junior from Lexington, SC. He is studying Computer Science and Statistics while pursuing a minor in Philosophy. His most meaningful involvement on campus is with the Duke Impact Investment Group, where he works as a project manager that communicates with local startups/non profits for data-related projects. In his free time, he enjoys learning and playing new types of music. Through Duke in Silicon Valley, he hopes to broaden his horizons, collaborate with like-minded individuals, and explore how technology can be harnessed to create positive change in society.

Rebekah Kim

Rebekah is a rising junior from Greensboro, NC. She is pursuing a major in Computer Science and certificate in Digital Intelligence. On campus, she is involved in DUU, DTech, and Edens Quad Council. She is also working on mobile development for Duke OIT. She is looking forward to developing her entrepreneurial skills and hearing from different companies at Silicon Valley.

Heath Lawry

Heath Lawry is from Wellesley, MA, and the youngest of four siblings, with three older sisters. He has two black labs. Heath is planning to major in Economics with a minor in Computer Science. Outside of his studies, he’s an avid basketball player and enjoys watching the NBA. He is also very interested in the fields of innovation and entrepreneurship and he sees the Duke in Silicon Valley program as a great opportunity to explore these areas further.

Madera Longstreet-Lipson

Madera is a rising sophomore from Cambridge, MA. At Duke, she plans to study Economics with a minor in Journalism and Media. She serves as an Associate News Editor for The Chronicle, Duke’s student newspaper, and a member of Duke’s Business Oriented Women. She also enjoys being part of the club volleyball team, going for runs around campus, and trying sweet treats around the Durham area, especially Rose’s ice cream sandwiches. She looks forward to better understanding the process of building a successful enterprise and immersing herself in the innovative environment of Silicon Valley.

Aiden Lo

Aiden is a rising junior from Taipei, Taiwan majoring in Biology and Economics while pursuing the Innovation & Entrepreneurship certificate. Aiden is a Duke campus fellow for Impact First Ventures, an impact fund investing in environmental and healthcare undergrad startups. After the program, he will intern at Tesla as a supply chain analyst. For fun, Aiden is involved in the Pitchforks (all-male acapella), Duke MMA (mixed martial arts), and Line Monitoring for Duke Athletics. Through DSV, he hopes to connect with exciting entrepreneurs and learn more about Silicon Valley’s vibrant ecosystem.

Edwin Ma

Edwin is a rising sophomore from Las Vegas, Nevada. At Duke, he plans to study Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He enjoys playing soccer, basketball, piano, and chess with his friends at Duke. In the General Robotics Lab, Edwin is working on an acoustic helmet project with drones and microphone arrays. He could not be more excited to experience the innovative industry in Silicon Valley, where he hopes to learn how to share his technical skills and interests to the market through entrepreneurship.

Kyle MacLellan

Kyle is a rising junior from Monroe, NC. At Duke, she is pursuing a Program II: Social Inequities in Urban Environments: Design, Advocacy and Planning alongside a certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Nu Omicron Chapter and Duke Street Medicine Dance group. She enjoys music, art and reading. She is excited to take advantage of the opportunity to explore the world of innovation and entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley and apply it to her interests in non-profit enterprises.

Nikhil Methi

Nikhil is a rising sophomore from Perrysburg, OH. At Duke, he plans to major in Biomedical Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering, alongside a minor in Computational Biology. On campus, he is involved with Duke Diya, Duke ASA, Our Urban Futures, and recently became a tour guide! Outside of academics, he enjoys traveling, hiking, camping out at cute coffee shops, and baking. He is incredibly excited to meet new people, students and industry professionals alike, and learn from their perspectives through the Duke in Silicon Valley program.

Amanda Nemshin

Amanda is a rising sophomore from Cold Spring Harbor, NY. At Duke, she plans to major in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science, while pursuing a certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. At Duke she is involved with Society of Women Engineers and research. Amanda loves to hang out with friends and family, while also exploring the outdoors. She is so excited to explore the innovative hub of the world, while meeting new people and expanding her entrepreneurial skills.

Gabrielle Perry

Gabrielle Perry, a rising junior from Brooklyn, NY, is pioneering her own path at Duke University with a self-designed major, “Science of Wellbeing – A Biopsychosociological Approach to Innovative Care,” complemented by a certificate in Innovation & Entrepreneurship. As a co-founder and former Chief Operations & Impact Officer of the Duke Business of Fashion Summit, Gabrielle played a pivotal role in establishing this groundbreaking conference, a first-of-its-kind initiative conference at Duke that seeks to enrich the university’s professional landscape by cultivating a movement that celebrates and elevates the world of Fashion at Duke University and beyond. After dedicating months to laying the foundation of this initiative, Gabrielle transitioned to a board advisory role at the DBFS to focus more on her passion for impactful healthcare innovations. She is committed to transforming traditional healthcare models, advocating for holistic and compassionate approaches that drive behavioral change and improve societal well-being.

Outside of her professional and academic pursuits, Gabrielle enjoys dancing, practicing yoga, and unwinding with a good book accompanied by peppermint tea. She is enthusiastic about being at the heart of innovation, collaborating with like-minded peers, alumni and innovators driven by a zeal for groundbreaking change.

Jonathan Reyes

Jonathan is a rising junior from Brooklyn, NY. He is pursuing a degree in Computer Science with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, and minors in Neuroscience and Linguistics. He is passionate about developing deep learning models for medical data to fight against chronic illnesses, natural language processing, and brain-computer interfaces. On campus, he works as a student developer at the Innovation Co-Lab and is on the house council for LangDorm LLC. Outside of class, he loves learning languages, reading, and playing the piano.

Arshaan Sayed

Arshaan is a rising sophomore from Princeton, NJ, planning to major in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science with a certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. During his childhood, Arshaan crafted games on platforms like Hopscotch and Scratch. His journey took a pivotal turn by creating a volunteer-match platform to help those impacted by COVID-19, sparking a passion for creating tech products for social good.

Arshaan loves playing hockey, singing, and anything related to cars. In his free time he also enjoys hanging out with friends and chilling with his backyard pet chickens. With his sights set on Silicon Valley, he’s eager to sync his tech and entrepreneurial expertise to navigate and shape the future of technology, especially related to generative AI.

Will Schmeltz

Will is a rising sophomore from Clarendon Hills, Illinois. At Duke, he plans to study mechanical engineering with a minor in statistical science. His favorite on-campus commitment is the Duke Debating Society, where he competes in tournaments across the country and internationally, including the North American Debating Championship hosted in Mexico City this past March. Will loves sports, roller coasters, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. In Silicon Valley, Will is excited to hear the stories of industry leaders, gaining valuable insights into what makes a success story in the rapidly developing tech industry. He hopes to leave the program with a better understanding of what it means to be an innovator and how he can pursue entrepreneurship in the future.

Jonathan Torres-Tomas

Jonathan Torres-Tomas is a rising junior from Hendersonville, North Carolina. He is on track to complete a double major in Computer Science and Economics. On campus, Jonathan is involved in a number of clubs and organizations including the Duke University Marching Band (as a trombonist), the Duke LIFE organization, Mi Gente, and Duke Applied Machine Learning. In his free time, he loves to play various video games, read light novels, and have a great time with friends. Jonathan is excited to immerse himself in the start-up culture through the Duke in Silicon Valley program. He is eager to learn about starting and running a successful enterprise as well as meeting wonderful people along the journey.

Tiffany Whyte

Tiffany is a rising sophomore from The Bronx, NY who plans to study Visual Arts with an undecided double major while pursuing an Innovation and Entrepreneurship certificate. On campus, she is a Students of the Caribbean Association publicity team member and freelancing graphic designer for a Duke department project. For Tiffany, Duke in Silicon Valley is a learning opportunity to expand her entrepreneurial skills for an arts career. She hopes to gain knowledge to better market herself as a designer and ultimately obtain the tools to start her graphic design business venture. Tiffany also looks forward to making meaningful connections in a teamwork environment. Hobby-wise, she loves to design, travel, try new things and spend time with family/friends.

James Yae

James is a rising sophomore from Seoul and New Jersey pursuing a Neuroscience B.S. on a pre-med track with a prospective certificate in I&E. On campus, he serves as a cadet with Duke University EMS, a member with Duke Presidential Ambassadors, and a clinic-aid with Duke Remote Area Medical — part of a national chapter providing free medical, vision, and dental care to rural communities. He cares deeply about human health and is looking forward to gaining more in-depth Industry & Tech insights in healthcare and corporate fields through the Silicon Valley summer experience. During his free time, James loves swimming with the Duke Club Swim team and is an avid aviation enthusiast with Duke Aviators.

Amy Yin

Amy Yin is a rising senior studying Math and CS at Duke. She hopes to become a quant trader after graduation. On campus, she is involved in Duke Quant Finance Club and Duke Chinese Theater. She loves dancing, karaoke, board games, and game development.

Sara Yoon

Sara is a rising sophomore from Fairfax, VA. She plans to major in Biomedical Engineering while pursuing a certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. At Duke, she dances with two groups, Devils en Pointe and Defining Movement, provides pro bono consulting to healthcare startups on Duke BioByte’s healthcare consulting team, and gives campus tours to prospective students. Outside of classes, she loves dancing, video editing, and spending time with family and friends. She is so excited to take part in the Duke in Silicon Valley program this summer and looks forward to meeting incredible people while gaining invaluable entrepreneurial skills.