Class of 2023 Spotlight: Kamryn Stafford AB’23

Creating her own path uniting interests in dance and global health

Kamryn Stafford

Kamryn Stafford

By Judith Mwobobia

Published April 26, 2023, last updated on May 1, 2023 under Student Stories

Kamryn Stafford combined a unique mix of academic pursuits during her career at Duke, majoring in dance and global health, while also minoring in chemistry. She aspires to work in sports medicine, while also finding ways to use dance as a form of therapy for patients with dementia.

After graduation … I'm excited to see where life takes me. As a student, I've been highly involved in dance programs and classes, which have consumed a significant amount of my time and demanded perfection. However, I'm eager to experience post-graduate life without these intense commitments and see what new opportunities and adventures come my way. The thought of this newfound freedom excites me greatly.

My most meaningful experience at Duke has been … my involvement with the Iota Mu Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Being a part of this sisterhood has taught me invaluable lessons about resilience and responsibility. Though at times the added responsibilities can feel overwhelming, they are also deeply meaningful. Knowing that I have the power to make a difference in someone's life or inspire younger generations is truly gratifying. Being a part of this sorority has helped me approach my life as a student at Duke with a more positive outlook, and for that, I will always be grateful.

While at Duke I have been lucky … to be a part of some fantastic research teams. When I reflect on my resume, I am grateful for the numerous research opportunities I have had and the extensive network I have built. One of the most memorable experiences I had was working with a team that included Duke Kunshan researchers. It was a unique and enriching experience that allowed me to learn from and interact with individuals I would not have met in a different setting. Moreover, I had the opportunity to work on my first manuscript, acquiring technical skills like using Covidence, which I know will be valuable in my future endeavors.

When I leave, I will absolutely miss … the sense of community that Duke offers. The spirit of community at Duke is one of the reasons why I felt comfortable here and was able to make many friends.

Kamryn Stafford — Class of 2023 Graduate

My last few days at Duke … are action-packed. As a member of multiple dance teams at Duke, I am thrilled to participate in upcoming showcases, which I anticipate will be incredibly fun. Besides dancing, I recently presented my capstone team project, as well as my senior project. My project focuses on the use of dance as a tool for self-expression, specifically exploring how individuals use hair as a form of identity. Through dance, I aim to showcase this concept and demonstrate its significance.

When I leave, I will absolutely miss … the sense of community that Duke offers. The spirit of community at Duke is one of the reasons why I felt comfortable here and was able to make many friends. The collaborative work environment at Duke has taught me the value of teamwork and the importance of relying on others. I will undoubtedly miss this aspect of Duke. Additionally, I will miss spending time at the Duke Gardens, where I work, and the Bryan Center Plaza, both of which have been great spots for relaxation and reflection.

In the future  … I hope to be in a position where I can use my passion for dance and global health to implement dance as a form of therapy for individuals living with dementia or Alzheimer's. I find it incredibly rewarding to use dance as a means of helping different communities, and working in this space is truly a dream for me. Additionally, I aspire to pursue a career in sports medicine, whether that be on the medical or policy side. Ultimately, I hope to work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) someday and make a meaningful impact in public health.

My advice for Duke students … is to follow your passions and listen to your hearts. Looking back, I regret not taking the less traditional path of exploring the Program II [custom-designed major], where I could have tailored my courses to align with my future goals. At the time, I was afraid of being different and taking risks. Therefore, I urge future Duke students not to be afraid and to go for what they truly want. Take advantage of the unique opportunities Duke offers and don't be afraid to pave your own path.