We all have at least one abiding passion that flows through our lives: a "forever" passion. Here's what some notable Duke alumni say about what drives them — and the role Duke played in helping them discover and pursue their "forever."


It’s not about spending a couple of minutes on top of a mountain. It’s about the journey and the lessons you learn along the way.

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Alison Levine MBA'00

Mountain climber & polar explorer

Mountain climber & polar explorer

For me collecting African-American art is an extension of honoring history.

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Grant Hill '94

Turner Sports and NBA TV analyst

Turner Sports and NBA TV analyst

It's a very long game, but I'm used to that. And I'll work for it.

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Becca Ward '12

Former Olympian & legislative correspondent for Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)

Former Olympian & legislative correspondent for Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)

I decided: I'll do stand-up, and then someone will discover me, and my future will be set.

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Retta Sirleaf '92

Comedienne and actress, NBC's Parks and Recreation

Comedienne and actress, NBC's Parks and Recreation

Everyone I've ever sat next to on a plane is now a committed shark conservationist -- or at least they were at the time they left the plane

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David Shiffman '07

Shark researcher & conservationist, University of Miami

Shark researcher & conservationist, University of Miami

The pursuit of the dream is more important than the dream, and that pursuit was everything to me.

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Charles Randolph-Wright '78

Director, Motown the Musical

Director, Motown the Musical

Living in Gilbert-Addoms with almost 200 first-year students has been one of the -- if not the -- most remarkable experiences I've ever had in my life.

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Sue Wasiolek '76, MHA'78, LLM'93

Dean of Students

Dean of Students

To do something for more than my gain, for society's benefit, is just something I love. I'm fundamentally a public servant.

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Sue Gordon '80

Director of the CIA's Senior Advisor for Cyber and Director of Information Operations

Director of the CIA's Senior Advisor for Cyber and Director of Information Operations

The magic that is this place brings people to a different level.

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Luke Dollar ’95, MS’05, PhD’06

Conservationist & National Geographic Explorer

Conservationist & National Geographic Explorer

I do still keep a toe in everything theater and music related. And I truly look back to my time at Duke for giving me permission to live my life in that way

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Mickey Conlon '98

Real state broker & star of HGTV's Selling New York

Real state broker & star of HGTV's Selling New York

At my core I'm an advocate, so whether I'm a traditional lawyer in a court room or in some other arena, I'm need to come back to the principles of advocating for those at the margins of society

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Hardy Vieux '93

Legal director, Human Rights First

Legal director, Human Rights First

Studying psychology helped me to understand people and personalities and how things interact...and that's a very strong component in making a film

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Bob Yeoman '73

Cinematographer, Moonrise Kingdom

Cinematographer, Moonrise Kingdom

We helped enact change, and I felt really good to be a part of something so big

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Dana Weinbach '02

Business development & corporate sponsorships consultant

Business development & corporate sponsorships consultant

Being able to light a fire in someone else's life is by far one of the greatest things you can experience

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Marvin Marcelin '09

Doctor of podiatric medicine, Temple University

Doctor of podiatric medicine, Temple University

Duke helped me to embrace openness.

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Gao Xiqing JD'86

Former president of China Investment Corporation

Former president of China Investment Corporation

I'm trying to take a really smart, entrepreneurial approach to the sport of NASCAR.

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Paulie Harraka '12

NASCAR driver

NASCAR driver

I love the fact that I'm learning new things all the time in cases. The fun is, you take one case, and you can become an expert in that. And then move on to another and become an expert.

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Peter Kahn JD'76

Partner, Williams & Connolly

Partner, Williams & Connolly

Duke taught me to have outrageous ambitions.

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Chris Brown '13

Duke Trustee and business analyst at McKinsey & Co.

Duke Trustee and business analyst at McKinsey & Co.

I really want to change the norm in the world. I want there to be more of norm that focuses on how you can bring your best self to do your best work

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Amy Lazarus '05

Executive director, International Institute for Sustained Dialogue

Executive director, International Institute for Sustained Dialogue

I want to inspire young athletes to think: "I may not be good today, but if I work hard, stay focused, I may be able to achieve my ultimate goal." And maybe they say, "My coach helped me do that."

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Thomas Hill '93

Physical Education Coach, Avenues the World School

Physical Education Coach, Avenues the World School

You’re not one type of person. You don’t have one "forever." You can have multiple "forevers," and they can play part in the same story. I have at least four of them — math, writing, soccer and language.

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Kaveh Danesh '12

Harvard graduate student

Harvard graduate student

You can put together new business horizons and change the way people interact with health

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Malik Burnett '07, MD'12, MBA'12

Duke Trustee and manager at Drug Policy Alliance

Duke Trustee and manager at Drug Policy Alliance

I got to write the stories and have the bylines, and I was hooked

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Ann Pelham '74

Duke Trustee & former publisher of The Legal Times

Duke Trustee & former publisher of The Legal Times

I want to inspire people to learn more about the rights and freedoms we have as Americans.

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David Rubenstein '70

Duke Trustee & philanthropist

Duke Trustee & philanthropist

What Duke taught me was that we had not only the ability to change the world, but we had a responsibility to go change the world.

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Shep Moyle '84

Duke Alumni Association Board President

Duke Alumni Association Board President

I've had the opportunity to support great writers and to make possible their stories

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Kara Medoff Barnett '00

Managing Director, Lincoln Center Global

Managing Director, Lincoln Center Global

I edit everyone a little bit differently. It's understanding each other's brains, understanding each other's tastes, and getting the best out of a single person.

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Greg Veis '03

Executive editor, The New Republic

Executive editor, The New Republic

Winemaking has certainly help develop patience in me. I was actually a very impatient kid. I think part of it has been finding something I really do enjoy doing.

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Will Harlan '09

Founder of The Mascot wine

Founder of The Mascot wine

You've got to give people a reason to come to work...pay only really goes so far. You have to create a community that people want to be in.

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Lisa Hook '80

CEO of Neustar

CEO of Neustar

Don't waste a single day. Being a cancer doctor, particularly at Duke, has taught me that you can make a difference every day.

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Kimberly Blackwell '89

Cancer researcher & Duke professor of medicine

Cancer researcher & Duke professor of medicine