Alumni Happenings & News Briefs

Lessons in Global Giving

“I had been searching for a way to both instill values about the importance of volunteerism and philanthropy in my students and show them that they are capable of significant, positive change,” says Michael Pelehach ’10. The idea was sparked last December, when Pelehach read Adam Braun’s The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change. Pelehach left his corporate job in Minneapolis to teach English under a Fulbright Grant in Bulgaria. His charges were twenty-six tenth-graders at Peyo Yavorov Foreign Languages High School in Silistra, a town along the Danube River surrounded by Roman ruins. Pelehach taught lessons on global literacy rates, crowdsourcing, storytelling, and community action. Then the 27-year-old challenged his class to raise $25,000 to build a school. He split the class into teams to target fundraising, incentives, production, and marketing over the course of the month-long campaign. Media outlets in both Bulgaria and the U.S. picked up the story, and Bulgarian celebrities contributed funds and viral publicity. The campaign culminated in a charity concert, organized and performed by the students, which connected the local community while donations flowed in from all corners of the world. The Peyo Yavorov class raised more than $28,000 in under twenty-five school days. It will go to Braun’s organization, Pencils of Promise, to erect a primary school in Ghana. The nonprofit has built more than 300 schools since 2009, supplying under-resourced communities with educational infrastructure. Pelehach chronicled his lessons and the project’s progress in a blog. —Elizabeth George

On Location In Miami

Earlier this summer, a group of Blue Devils took to the high seas off the coast of Miami with shark scientist David Shiffman ’07 for a day of shark education and hands-on learning. Alumni learned how to tag sharks and participated in discussions about shark conservation on the boat with Shiffman, an authority on the subject at the University of Miami, where he works as a researcher.

Want to Attend a Duke Alumni event in Miami?

For the second year in a row, alumni are invited to attend an exclusive alumni social at Art Basel, the premier art show for modern and contemporary art from around the world. This year, Art Basel is Dec. 3-6 in Miami Beach. Interested in going? Check the Duke Alumni website for details in coming months.

Duke is Here: Southern California

Number of alumni: 4,126

Young alumni (10 years out): 1,197

Local alumni events: 70 per year

It’s a tradition: Alumni rent a beach house (or gather in an alum’s) for an annual summer party complete with dancing, swimming, and beach games.

Good place to find a Blue Devil: Mauro’s Café at Fred Segal in Hollywood, where the Duke SoCal group hosts an exclusive DEMAN (Duke Entertainment, Media, and the Arts Network) mixer open only to alumni who work in Tinseltown.

Notable Dukies: Comedians Ken Jeong ’90 and Retta Sirleaf ’92, Hollywood producer Mark Vahradian ’89, Fandango correspondent Dave Karger ’95, rapper Mike Posner ’09, actress Annabeth Gish ’93, and Chris Dusseault ’94, former field director who fought California’s Proposition 8.

Showing the flag: Last year, 226 Southern California alumni volunteered to interview prospective students.

Nominate a Blue Devil

Do you know a Blue Devil who is making a difference at Duke and in the world? Now is the time to nominate alumni you believe deserve a little recognition for DAA’s annual awards and to suggest people for Duke’s board of trustees.

DAA Awards | Every year, the DAA honors alumni who have made extraordinary contributions to the world, to their communities, and to Duke. Visit the DAA’s awards website to learn more about the awards and to nominate alumni by Feb. 1, 2016.

Duke Board of Trustees | The Duke board of trustees is looking for new members who exemplify creativity, diverse leadership and experiences, and the ability to work effectively and collaboratively in groups. The most successful candidates have made a sustained commitment to Duke over many years—contributing their time and financial support. Submit nominations for the board of trustees by e-mailing Carolyn Gerber, special assistant to the president, at

Document Duke 360

... is a yearlong photography project by Duke Photography and the Center for Documentary Studies to showcase diverse perspectives of Duke through the lenses of alumni, faculty, staff, and students. A new photo appears on the Duke 360 website every day until the end of 2015. To have your photo considered, post it on Instagram using #Duke360.

Where are you?

Share a photo from your city using @DukeAlumni on Instagram or Twitter and help us show Duke’s reach around the world

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