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2015 Certificate in Documentary Studies Graduates

The 2015 Certificate in Documentary Arts graduates.

The 2015 Certificate in Documentary Arts graduates.

The Certificate in Documentary Studies program attracts Duke undergraduates to the Center for Documentary Studies from across the arts and sciences. Under the guidance of Alex Harris, nine seniors in the 2015 spring semester Documentary Capstone Seminar completed a final project as the culmination of their documentary studies classes.

On April 26, the students will present their projects at a ceremony in the CDS auditorium and receive their certificates, followed by a celebratory BBQ and opening reception for Beyond the Front Porch 2015, an exhibit of their work on view at CDS through October 3. Read more about the ceremony and exhibit here.

The nine Duke University students graduating in 2015 with a Certificate in Documentary Studies describe themselves and their work:


Eileen Adams | San Francisco Bay Area | Major: Public Policy
I have always been interested in hearing and writing stories, and pursued a documentary studies certificate as a way to engage with the world outside of Duke. While my projects have ranged in medium and in content, they maintain my dedication to authenticity as I strive to give voice to my subjects whoever they may be. My final project, The Search, uses photography as well as self- and subject-produced audio to explore the parallel lives of Don Henson and myself: Don, a high school senior looking to the future and unsure of what he sees there, and Eileen, a college senior equally uncertain of what path she is meant to be walking. My work explores struggle, triumph, disappointment, and hope, all with the goal of furthering the search we all make to find a meaningful life.



Jamie Bando | Los Angeles, California | Majors: Earth & Ocean Sciences; Japanese
CDS is a place I come back to each semester not only to learn more about the community and landscape around me, but also more about myself. Learning about the many facets of documentary has allowed me to think about the bigger world I inhabit and how we each fit into it. My interest in documentary studies developed through photography courses taught by MJ Sharp and Susie Post-Rust; my most recent work, however, is an expansion of a family photographs project I started in Katie Hyde’s Sociology through Photography class. The Archived Memories is an audio-stills project about my relationship with my 93-year-old great-uncle, John Takemoto. Using original family photographs dating back to 1921, I tell his story and what it meant for him to discover and uproot a particularly difficult past.



Brenna Cukier | Scottsdale, Arizona | Major: Journalism
I am a student at the University of North Carolina– Chapel Hill but have taken classes at CDS throughout my college career, a process facilitated by the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program. Upon entering college, my ambition was to be a television news reporter. After taking a few classes at CDS, however, I found documentary work to be the ideal platform for combining my skills as a broadcast journalist with my passion for creative storytelling. My final project, Susan, is my first experience creating a vignette about a personal subject—my maternal grandmother, Susan Hammer. The film combines archival material, interviews, and present-day footage to explore growing older through the lens of one woman’s life and memories.



Maya Flippen | McKinney, Texas | Majors: Women’s Studies
Throughout college I have learned that my identity is tied with my studies, activism, service, and interactions. I cannot separate my sense of self from my academic experience—there is no walking away. That’s why I’m so grateful to have had the rewarding, challenging, and life-affirming experience that comes from majoring in women’s studies and getting the documentary studies certificate. My passion for documentary grew in Wesley Hogan’s class, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things, where I was first encouraged to consider identity and inequity in the complex and nuanced light of storytelling. Dear Emily is an attempt to use visual media to explore womanhood at Duke. In a competitive collegiate world fueled by rigorous academics, rigid social structure, and an enormous pressure to look and act the way a Duke woman “should,” this project is an attempt to let woman-identified Duke students breathe.



Lauren Henschel | Miami, Florida | Majors: Visual and Media Studies; Cultural Anthropology
My experience with psoriatic arthritis, a debilitating genetic autoimmune disease, inspired me to use art as a cathartic exploration of pain and empathy that all humans experience. I have been greatly influenced in all of my classes at CDS, namely the Capstone Seminar, Multimedia Documentary, Children and the Experience of Illness, and Documentary Engagement. The subjects of my documentary pieces and I have developed strong bonds, and I hope to continue to create documentaries that will have as much of an impact on others as my subjects have had on me. My final project, Las Fronteras, is a film that traces the unexpected paths of two families as they became one. One family, a mother and daughter, emigrated illegally from Peru to the United States to escape the cycle of poverty there. The other, my American family, welcomed these two into our home. By tracing the narratives of what began as two disparate family groups, this film will highlight how families can be formed, ripped apart, and put back together in unconventional ways.



Danielle Mayall | Alexandria, Virginia | Majors: Environmental Science and Policy; Cultural Anthropology
I am half Brazilian, half Peruvian, and was born in Switzerland; my multicultural background and experiences traveling and living around the world have led to my strong interest in exploring the interaction between people, cultures, and the natural environment, namely through photography. My passion for food, the environment, and health and exercise come together in Know What You Eat. My final project is an attempt to show how I feel about food and society— five photo illustrations that show the ugly truth behind commonly eaten foods. I want people to stop and think what they are eating and really putting into their bodies. What are the consequences not only for you, but also for the environment.



Addie Navarro | Charlotte, North Carolina | Major: History
Early in my freshman year, I fell in love with the world of documentary film as a way to explore creativity and communication. Through classes at CDS and through the Full Frame Film Festival, I have been inspired by great works—particularly those pertaining to Southern culture and environmental issues—and hope to continue working as a visual storyteller after graduation. My final project, She’d Be Satisfied, looks at the ways in which family histories are made and retold across generations. Using family photographs, home videos, audio, and video, I explore my family’s immigration from Cuba, piecing together different narratives in an attempt to understand the grandparents I never knew and my own place within my larger family history.



Margaret Perry | Baltimore, Maryland | Majors: Public Policy; Certificate in Markets and Management Studies
I have a passion for documentary photography (and hate writing artist’s statements!). Despite having dyslexia and a variety of other learning differences that make me a slow reader and writer, I consider myself an avid learner. As a result, I especially appreciate the way multimedia documentary work can provide insight and teach a wide-ranging audience in a way that I believe written expression cannot. For me, documentary work is an important means of connecting cultures, promoting understanding, and preserving the present as it becomes our history. I have enjoyed all my classes at CDS, particularly Small Town USA with Susie Post-Rust, and will miss sitting on the CDS porch on warm afternoons. My final project, Sound It Out, is a body of photographs and audio recordings documenting the experiences of illiterate adults working with tutors to learn to read. This project explores how being illiterate has impacted the lives of these individuals and what is motivating them to learn to read later in life. I hope that my project captures the sincere appreciation each student has for their tutor and the Durham Literacy Center.  



Kari Vaughn | Greensboro, North Carolina | Majors: Math; Statistics

Motivated to take photography classes by my father’s camera collection and my own love of the medium, I started at CDS during my first year at Duke. I have also taken oral history, audio, and film classes at CDS to diversify my experience within the documentary tradition. During my last semester I returned to still photography, making and using pinhole cameras for my final project. Examining what it means to be Quaker, The Light Within connects the voices of local Quakers with black-and-white analog and digital photographs inspired by those same voices. All photographs were made using homemade pinhole cameras as a way of working with a process that parallels the Quaker dedication to simplicity, humility, faith, and search for the Light.

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