By; Kaelyn Griffiths

I’m not sure that I’ve ever really been pleasantly overwhelmed before? That’s what this phase has done for me. While still tackling the understand phase, shifting into a space to design solutions from our understanding has been such an exciting, yet difficult process. It has really opened up our team’s creative side and displayed how seemingly crazy ideas can morph into something that would bring about tangible change. Though, with this comes great responsibility; balancing what we can actually provide as student researchers and trying to think radically/out-of-the-box has been a consistent battle throughout the understand and now, the create phase.

Adopting a “yes, and” mindset is something our team wanted to prioritize when building our team dynamic and has been a staple in how we navigate our discussions, especially when consolidating our ideas. Maintaining such open-mindedness has been my greatest lesson thus far, as it has taught me that all ideas and input are valuable and contribute in some way to designing a solution that considers all approaches.

Creating a learning environment that prioritizes purposeful and intentional decision making and discussion is the future. What is learning if it isn’t meaningful? Why do we make the academic and extracurricular decisions we make? Do those decisions reflect what we’re most passionate about? Those questions are at the forefront of our team’s project, but also have made it to the forefront of my life. Do I make space and opportunity to reflect on how I choose to navigate Duke? Do I, whether intentionally or unintentionally, give in to the pressures of being in “competition” with other Duke students? What is my purpose? Why can’t I answer some of these questions? There’s something really powerful in feeling supported and encouraged to simply do what makes you happiest and as I examine that for myself, I wish to create that space for my community of Duke students. I just want to be a small part in building that future.