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!
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.
Anneke Zegers is from Fair Oaks, California. She is majoring in English and minoring in Creative Writing and Latin. Anneke is a varsity saberist on the Duke Women’s Fencing team, but when she is not playing with swords, she can often be found reading a fantasy or historical fiction novel. Anneke also loves creative writing and aspires to be a novelist. She served as the President of the Duke Writers’ Collective—a student organization with monthly creative writing workshops and bi-weekly critique circles open to all Duke students—during her sophomore and junior years. She is also involved in several Christian organizations on campus, especially MakeNew Church and Summit College.
One of Anneke’s favorite aspects of English classes is the seminar teaching method, in which students of various backgrounds and perspectives unite to discuss a single work. She also finds the English Department remarkable for its wise and thoughtful faculty, who are eager to help their students understand difficult texts and explore their particular interests. Her favorite experience as an English major was attending Duke in Oxford over the summer of 2022, in which she studied British Victorian literature and drank lots of tea.
Anneke is especially interested in early modern and Victorian literature, but she is not opposed to reading books from any culture or time period. Some of her favorite works of literature are Agamemnon by Aeschylus, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Hester by Margaret Oliphant, and East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Anneke hopes to inspire other students to read more often and to explore a diverse range of genres, engaging with perspectives and experiences unlike their own.