Ringing in Success

Why the sound of bells around Trent Hall is good news for Duke's global health master's students

A bell in Trent Hall

By Judith Mwobobia and Alicia Banks

Published March 30, 2023, last updated on April 4, 2023 under Education News

Suhana Posani waits outside the meeting room, a tense smile on her face. She has just completed defending her thesis; one of the final steps for most students in Duke’s Master of Science in Global Health program. She is trying to keep her nerves at bay. Has she done enough? Will they ring the bell?

Bell ringing is a cherished tradition at the Duke Global Health Institute that signifies the successful completion of a thesis. Every spring, Trent Hall fills with nervous energy as second-year master’s students like Posani await the word from their faculty committees. When students win committee approval, they are invited to ring a bell. As they leave the building, members of the institute’s education team create a chorus of bells to mark the culmination of their hard work and creativity.

Now, it’s Posani’s turn. For the past year, she has been diving deep into the world of pediatric cancer patients and their caregivers, exploring the effects of cancer stigma in Mwanza, Tanzania. Armed with a mountain of data collected during her time in Mwanza, Posani has been busy putting the pieces of the puzzle together, looking for connections and inferences that could help make a difference. She presented her findings to a room full of faculty advisors and friends, and all that remains is the committee’s final decision.

Finally, Posani is called back into the room, and the committee delivers the news. She's passed with flying colors. The bell rings out, and Posani can't help but smile. She’s done it. “I can now breathe a sigh of relief,” she says, giddy with excitement.

For more on DGHI’s bell tradition and Posani’s defense day, watch the video below.