Class of 2024 Spotlight: Corali Francisco-Zelkine AB’24

Getting in step with community-based research

Corali Francisco-Zelkine

By Alicia Banks

Published April 29, 2024, last updated on April 30, 2024 under Student Stories

Corali Francisco-Zelkine, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is graduating with majors in cultural anthropology and global health and a minor in sociology. While at Duke, she served as the artistic director of Street Medicine, a street-style dance team on campus, and has been a member of Nakisai Dance Ensemble. She was chosen for a Hart Fellowship, a post-graduate program that supports community-based research on social issues.

I want to continue exploring the power of community-based work and use my academic experience to hopefully one day establish a social justice organization of my own.

After graduation… I will be going to Salvador, Brazil, for 10 months to carry out an ethnographic community-based research project through the Hart Fellowship sponsored by the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy. I will be working with Instituto Cultural Bantu on racial justice and youth empowerment through academic support, professional development, and cultural practices such as capoeira Angola (an Afro-Brazilian martial art).

My most meaningful experience at Duke has been… writing my cultural anthropology honors thesis. I spent almost a year researching the relationship between community and reproductive justice, particularly looking at the role of Black women, women of color and queer folks in leading community-based initiatives to advance the reproductive justice movement. This project was an incredibly challenging yet motivating endeavor. I learned so much about myself as a researcher, leader, writer and community member. 

 While at Duke… I have met so many amazing, creative, talented and encouraging people. The community I've found here has helped shape me in ways that I am very grateful for. I have also made great connections with Duke faculty that have informed my interests and plans for the future.

Dr. Eric Green (an associate professor of the practice of global health) was amazing. I had him for two semesters, and he was down to earth and candid about all the possibilities for working within global health. He’s made it easy for students to talk to him about anything. 

My last few days at Duke are… bittersweet. As I look back on the last four years, I get emotional thinking of all the memories I've made and the things I will miss. At the same time, I can't wait to see what life has in store for me, and learn how my time at Duke will help me find my footing in the real world.  

When I leave I will absolutely miss… WU (Duke’s West Union)! I feel very lucky to have had WU all these years, and I’m taking advantage of my last moments here enjoying my favorite meals and saying, “Hi,” to the staff before I have to go into the real world.  

But in all seriousness, I will miss the people. I will miss my friends, my dance teams, my professors, my mentors, the staff who smile at me every morning, and everyone who has made my Duke experience what it's been. 

In the future… I plan to return to school to get my Ph.D. in anthropology. I want to continue exploring the power of community-based work and use my academic experience to hopefully one day establish a social justice organization of my own. The Global Health courses at Duke definitely helped me learn about what interests me, and how I want to engage with the world around me, which I know will be incredibly valuable to my future pursuits. 

My advice for Duke students is…  take advantage of all that Duke has to offer! There are so many programs, organizations, grants, fellowships, research opportunities and jobs, etc. available at Duke. I highly recommend doing hands-on experiences to help you get a better sense of what it is you want to do. 

Also, take it upon yourself to engage with the Durham community. Duke can often feel like a bubble, but there is so much to see, do and explore outside of the Duke perimeter!