My undergraduate journey through Duke University covered a span of 12 years. From being a part of the last class of January freshmen to be admitted to the university to being one of the oldest in my graduating class, I have seen and experienced some things that have helped me grow, broken me down, built me up, made me believe, made me disbelieve, questioned my endurance, proved my strength…
My mentors made me stay focused and saw something in this indecisive insecure young African-American woman that I could not and would not have seen. They saw success. Not success that looked like everyone else’s definition of it, but success that looked like me and would conform to the gifts and abilities I had yet to utilize. Dean Martina Bryant would not allow me to get missing in the struggles and the life realities that kept me in a state of constant questioning of my worth and my abilities. Janet Dickerson saw and went after provision for me where I saw none. Maureen Cullins offered love in unconventional ways…sometimes just a smile and a nod were enough to push me through the obstacles I was facing. The late Professor Ed Hill created safe space for my spirit to be nurtured. In the moments I felt most lost, I simply had to follow the path of breadcrumbs that they laid out for me.
I am watching Duke grow and expand in many ways while some things have not been as amenable to change. I grew up here. I’m learning to lean into the curves so as not to crash and burn. I am here, as are many others, to ensure that change is gonna come. My legacy at this great institution will consist of success, failure, mentoring, being a mentee, tears, laughter, poetry, songs, love, life, building bridges, crossing bridges that were already built, sharing my story, helping to create and develop the story of those who come behind me, leaving breadcrumbs…lots and lots of breadcrumbs.
Kimberly McCrae, T’00