Literature exists without boundaries. Recognizing the limitlessness of language, the English Department Ambassadors are dedicated to showing Duke students the powerful manner in which studying English grants us access to a heightened understanding of our own selves and timeless truths of the human psyche. The English Department Ambassadors serve as liaisons for the greater Duke student body and the English Department, hosting campus outreach events to facilitate dialogue between current students, welcome new majors, and encourage prospective Duke students to explore the humanities.
Nicholas Bayer is a Junior from Queens, NYC, Majoring in English and Political science while Minoring in Creative writing. When not reading, he serves as President of the Duke Debate Society. For fun, Nick is a foodie; he can tell you all of the best places to grab a meal in Durham. Nick’s favorite classes within the major have been the creative writing workshops and his current class on Milton. Nick is happy to talk through anything English-related, or Duke at large!
Margaret Gaw is a senior from Nashville, TN majoring in English and minoring in chemistry. When she is not absorbed in a book or journal, she is in a deep conversation with a friend, rapping Hamilton, or hiking in the great outdoors. A Baldwin Scholar, she is also involved in the Kenan Refugee Project and the Episcopal Center at Duke. Along with being a physician in women’s health, she sees herself being a writer after Duke, and the English major has strongly influenced these aspirations. She loves the way the English major has taught her the practice of observation — and understanding humans as beings of interaction not only scientifically but also culturally, emotionally, and spiritually. She seeks to observe humanity in new ways through the English major and to learn about people’s stories, behavior, and social determinants of health. This summer, she participated in a program called Reimagine Medicine to gain a deep understanding of herself and study the intersections of medicine, art, ethics, storytelling, and the humanities. This semester, she is delving into European modern short fiction, William Carlos Williams, and environmental literature. Please reach out to her – she is excited to talk with you!
Catherine Johnson is a senior majoring in English and minoring in French. Her favorite thing about the English Major is how it encourages appreciation for the beauty of language. She has especially enjoyed studying Tolstoy at Duke. Outside of class, she is involved in Dukes & Duchesses, The Archive Literary Magazine, and The Coop. She enjoys volunteering through Dance Expressions and Adopt-a-Grandparent. Catherine had the privilege of studying English at the University of Oxford for a summer, which enhanced her experience with timeless works of literature. She is happy to answer any questions about the English Department, extracurriculars, or studying abroad!
Sarah Larkin is a senior from Reading, Pennsylvania majoring in English and minoring in Creative Writing and Theater Studies. She loves creative writing and has gotten to explore a lot of the curriculum at Duke so far. She also enjoys comedy writing and is the co-founder and co-president of Duke University Stand-up Troupe (or DUST). In her spare time, Sarah typically finds herself reading, writing, or watching far too many shows and films. The English major has helped her look critically at all these forms of written content, and she is now able to enjoy them on a deeper level. She is eager to get to talk to prospective majors about all the opportunities the English major presents!
Kayla Smith is a junior from Angier, NC majoring in English and minoring in Russian. She fell in love with studying English literature after taking a course on William Faulkner during her freshman spring, and she hasn’t looked back since! Studying English has taught her to think critically about written works but also about all the information and people she comes into contact with in the world. English literature has played a critical role in Kayla’s life, informing her not only as a reader and writer but as an individual within an ever-changing society that no computer codes, nor methods of statistical analysis, nor any other “factual” facts, as useful as they are, can effectually assimilate. Her favorite authors are Fyodor Dostoevsky, Vladimir Nabokov, Joyce Carol Oates, and Thomas Wolfe. She prioritizes asking questions and staying curious above having the answers and being in the right.
Creativity is central to Kayla’s being. She expresses herself through fashion, various visual arts, writing poetry/songs, singing, and playing music. She is also a writer and voice actor for Freshly Squeezed Pulp, a student-run team of creatives who annually write, direct, and produce a pulp fiction-based podcast show. She is also involved in FORM Magazine, Small Town Records, and WXDU. In her free time, she does yoga, listens to music, takes long walks, and pours her creative heart.
Samantha Su is a senior from Houston, Texas majoring in English and minoring in Chemistry. She is currently serving as Editor-in-Chief for The Muse magazine, a feminist publication at Duke, while also dancing alongside her Duke Chinese Dance family and working on her clinical research project for the Mikati Lab. In her free time, she enjoys watching stand-up comedy specials, reading, and cooking. Her favorite pieces of writing include Welcome to The Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut, Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, Dracula by Bram Stoker, and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.
Samantha has enjoyed all of her English classes at Duke, but her favorites have been Victorian Literature, Asian American Gender and Sexuality, and her gateway course on Calculation and Recklessness. She also reserves a special place in her heart for her creative writing courses: Introductory and Intermediate Creative Non-Fiction. Samantha is very grateful for her time as an English major thus far, as it has given her the space to grow and become a better communicator/thinker. She is excited to get to know prospective English students and talk about her love for the English major.