School Days

A group of middle school students pose in front of Duke chapel

School Days is an annual program designed to help motivate teenagers in Durham Public Schools to aim for college. The program targets middle school students who come from families with no prior college experience. The students spend a full school day at Duke in groups of 10, visiting labs, meeting faculty, and touring the campus (including the residence halls) while accompanied by Duke staff and students, and Durham school counselors. You are their person on the “inside,” and your energy and stories about Duke make the 21st year of School Days a success.

During School Days about 300 middle school students from Durham Public Schools tour campus with Duke student and staff guides, who show them the sights and share their own perspectives on how and why to aim for college. Participants get a chance to meet with professors and learn about their research, visit libraries and dorms, eat in the dining hall, and hear from Duke student-athletes and Admissions representatives.

Join us on Friday, November 5th, 2021!

Staff sign up here

Your role would be to ask the students lots of questions, enjoy watching them be amazed at how different college is from secondary school, and accompany them as they visit residence halls, labs, the new dining facilities. Due to the pandemic, this year’s School Days will be virtual and shortened so Duke staff are just needed from 9-10:15 a.m.

Duke students sign up here

Your role is to share information about college life and motivate this next generation of students to aim for higher education. The Student Guided portion of the event will be held virtually on Friday, November 5, from 9-10:15 AM.

Read about a Duke first generation college student’s experience at School Days

Fausto Paguada Figueroa – Duke ’15

Hi my name is Fausto, I grew up in Durham and recently graduated from Duke. I now work in the Office of Undergraduate Education.

Just like you, I once sat on those same seats so technically I am considered a Duke Durham School Days alum.

To share some of my background, I come from an immigrant, working class family raised by a single mother after moving here from Honduras in 2004.

It is refreshing to see all of you and for us to come together since I once sat in those same seat where all of you are seating. As an 8th grader at Brogden middle school, I visited Duke campus which helped to plant a seed of interest and allowed me to see myself on going to college.

After the visit, I went back to school and made an effort to do well in all my classes. This proved to be very rewarding when I would get recognized at the end of each year for good grades but it began to create good work habits most importantly. Those habits helped to groom a work ethic that stood out when I applied to college. My hard work and passion for helping in my community is what I think helped me earned a spot when I applied to Duke.

As a low income immigrant and first in my family to go to college, I had little information of the college application process. My high school counselor played an important role all throughout. She pushed me to research colleges, taught me what it meant to apply and provided necessary deadlines and plans for me to undergo that process. Please consider visiting your counselor today – they are there to help you and they want to help.

Through this process, nothing was assured of whether or not I would get accepted but I figured I would lose nothing by simply applying. If anything, I would learn what to do better from any rejections I received.

I want to encourage you all to foremost focus on your academics and reach out to your teachers and mentors whenever possible for help. Push yourself to do well in school and take advance classes. Also, pursue activities outside the classroom that interest you whether that is a sport, a club/organization, a community service.

This is what I did!

As you all know, college can be quite expensive but decided to focus on finances last. I instead focused on convincing colleges that I belonged in their campuses. In the end, I was accepted to a good amount of the colleges I applied to, and Duke in particular worked hard to assure I came. Today I have graduated with no worry of debt. Duke made sure my education was paid for and this is possible for you too.

You are young and have a lot of time ahead. Plan wisely and don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Are you interested in volunteering with us?

Staff

School Days is an annual program designed to help motivate teenagers in Durham Public Schools to aim for college. The program targets middle school students who come from families with no prior college experience. The students spend a full school day at Duke in groups of 10, visiting labs, meeting faculty, and touring the campus (including the residence halls) while accompanied by Duke staff and students, and Durham school counselors.

Your role would be to ask the students lots of questions, enjoy watching them be amazed at how different college is from secondary school, and accompany them as they visit residence halls, labs, the new dining facilities.

You will learn things you never knew about Duke and have a chance to see some unusual facilities from the Human Patient Simulator to the largest collection of 3D printers on a college campus (and which you can use!). You won’t be alone on this journey – each group will also have two school counselors and two Duke students.

Faculty

These students don’t have a family member who has attended college, and chances are, they have never been on a college campus. We are exposing them to a day at Duke to share a potential future that involves college. Once they do, we know the likelihood of them pursuing a college education increases dramatically. We would love it if you had 20 minutes to meet with a group of 10 of these students and talk about why college is a rewarding environment and about your academic passion.

Of the 30 groups, some will visit Duke classes, others will explore a research lab, and some will meet with Duke faculty. Hopefully you will have time at to meet with a group and talk about your academic passion.

No preparation is required; just talk informally about what you teach and/or something about your research. Beforehand, we’ll provide you with a list of questions you might want to think about, if you run out of things to talk about!

The Durham Public School 8th graders will get to explore other facets of university life, including the residence halls, the library, student performances, campus dining, campus tours with Duke students, and other aspects of student life. But the academic experience is key to helping shape their expectations of college, and we hope you will be available to share this with them.

Students

School Days is an annual program designed to help motivate teenagers in Durham Public Schools to aim for college. The program targets middle school students who come from families with no prior college experience. The students spend a full school day at Duke in groups of 10, visiting labs, meeting faculty, and touring the campus (including the residence halls) while accompanied by Duke staff and students, and Durham school counselors. You are their person on the “inside,” and your energy and stories about Duke make the 21st year of School Days a success.

Have a question? Get in touch today.