Kicking Up Her Heels

Irish dancer receives DAA scholarship

Putting Trials to the Test

Cristante: Second-generation Dukie.Deirdre Christante ’88

This past spring, Caitlin Cristante traveled to Ireland with the Charlotte Catholic High School marching band, for which she played oboe. The group held concerts at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin and St. Nicholas Church in Galway, marched and performed in a St. Patrick’s Day parade, visited the Cliffs of Moher, and viewed the Book of Kells at Trinity College Library in Dublin.

You might think that coming home after such a stimulating experience would be a letdown. But Cristante barely had time to collect her luggage before she received a text message from her mother that eclipsed the thrill of Ireland.

“Catie, I have news!” wrote Deirdre Mc- Cartan Cristante ’88. “You got into Duke and you got a FULL RIDE!”

That’s how Cristante, the middle child and only daughter of Deirdre and Frank Cristante, learned she had been selected as the Duke Alumni Association’s (DAA) Alumni Endowed Undergraduate Scholar for the Class of 2015.

Established by the DAA in 1979 to recognize the academic and personal achievements of children or grandchildren of Duke alumni, the scholarship includes four years of tuition for students with demonstrated financial need; a summer academic experience such as study abroad; and invitations to attend a variety of educational, social, and cultural programs throughout their four years on campus.

“While I was growing up, I always rooted for Duke,” says Caitlin Cristante, who is also a championship Irish dancer (her mother is Irish). “But I didn’t really have a perception of it until I visited the campus with my older brother when I was in eighth grade. It was gorgeous, and I could tell even then how motivated all the students were. From that point on, I always pictured myself going to Duke.”

Cristante’s older brother ended up enrolling at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she also applied and was offered a scholarship. Duke was her top choice, she says, so she would have matriculated even without the DAA scholarship. “But I would have felt guilty, since I also have a younger brother, and it would have been a burden for our family.”

During her first year, she will live in Bell Tower on East Campus and participate in the interdisciplinary Focus Program’s “Exploring the Mind” cluster of courses, the better to expand her growing interest in neuroscience. She also plans to sign up for classics courses and Latin, her favorite subject in high school.

“I don’t really know yet what kind of clubs I might join,” she says. “I’m mostly interested in all the opportunities I see at Duke that I haven’t seen anywhere else, things like DukeEngage. Everyone at Duke seems to be on track for success, so I’m looking forward to being part of that environment and pushing myself to be as great as I can be.”

—Bridget Booher


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