Class of 2024 A. James Clark Scholars Arrive at Duke

August 31, 2020

Duke's Pratt School of Engineering has welcomed 10 outstanding first-year students from eight U.S. states and Nairobi, Kenya to join its student body as A. James Clark Scholars.

The A. James Clark Scholars Program, funded through a $15 million investment from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation, expands access to Duke's nationally recognized engineering education and seeks to create a new generation of engineering leaders with a focus on engineering, business, leadership and community service.

Each year, Clark Scholars are selected based on financial need, academic accomplishment, engagement in engineering and leadership skills. The incoming Class of 2024 students is the third group of A. James Clark Scholars at Duke.

As part of a rigorous application process, students were asked to write an essay on a leadership challenge they tackled and what they learned.

"What distinguishes leaders from everyone else isn't their ability to propose solutions, but the capability and grit to follow through with them," wrote Karrissa Guerrero, who overcame personal fears to lead and grow a group for LGBT students at her high school in California.

Robertson Waweru, born and raised in the lakeside city of Nakuru, Kenya, explained how he used a design process to lead his friends in building a rainwater collection system as a clean alternative to contaminated neighborhood wells.

"Though I have yet to decide on a major, this sparked my love and curiosity for the interplay between engineering and sustainable development—something I am hoping to explore within the Clark Scholars Program," he wrote.

Over four years, each scholar receives support to help offset loans, work-study and summer earnings requirements. This support allows each scholar to participate in unpaid service, extracurricular activities, internships and the creation of new ventures.

The program is a signature component of Duke Engineering's initiative to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset among all its undergraduate students.

Scholars join classmates from engineering and across Duke in participating in courses, workshops, grant competitions and other opportunities offered through the Duke EngEn, the Duke Engineering Entrepreneurship program.

Before the start of fall classes on Aug. 17, the 10 students completed an additional four-day pre-orientation that included discussions and exercises with Duke faculty and experts on building personal resilience and wellness and understanding learning and leading styles. In response to pandemic concerns, the pre-orientation was held virtually.

"We have an outstanding class once again this year," said William F. Walker, director of the A. James Clark Scholars Program at Duke and the Mattson Family Director of Entrepreneurship at Duke Engineering. "I look forward to working with them and observing their growth in engineering leaders over their four years at Duke."

The Class of 2024 Clark Scholars at Duke are: 

Noah Fredericks—Pottsville, Pa. Karrissa Guerrero—El Cajon, Calif. Ezra Melaku—Matthews, N.C. Alondra Oliveras—Bronx, N.Y. Jack Rhodes—Purcellville, Va. Carolina Rozzo—West Palm Beach, Fla. Reyna Vrbensky—Crofton, Md. Robertson Waweru—Nairobi, Kenya Phillip Williams—Blakeslee, Pa. Adam Yook—Flower Mound, Texas

Duke is a member of a Clark Scholars network that includes students from The George Washington University, Georgia Tech, Johns Hopkins University, Penn State, University of Maryland, University of Pennsylvania, Stevens Institute, Vanderbilt University, University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.