Donna Jackson Nakazawa

Degree and Year: 
BA 1982
Professional Title: 
Science Journalist, Author, Lecturer
Employer: 
Self-Employed


How has being an English graduate from Duke University helped shape your professional success?: 
When I was at Duke, I was able, with the help of English Department Dean Ellen Wittig, to combine English Literature, Creative Writing, Women's Studies and Public Policy into an interdisciplinary degree. At the time, I had no idea what my plan was -- I just knew these were courses -- taught by Jim Applewhite, Reynolds Price, Deborah Pope, Bruce Payne, Alex Harris - that made me keenly aware of the greater challenges in world around me, and changed how I saw my place in it. I became compelled to use my voice to change the world for the better in some small way. James Applewhite's careful mentorship gave me faith that I might be a writer, and my work as a co-editor of The Archive, helped whet my taste for publishing. The Public Policy professors Alex Harris and Bruce Payne encouraged me to turn my pen to journalism -- and I spent much of my senior year in Durham doing my senior project as a photojournalist telling the stories of abused and disenfranchised girls in a local halfway house. My English professors fully supported my explorations into all aspects of writing, including journalism.