Rebecca Lee Porter and Laura Hewitt Tuson are the new Alumni Endowed Undergraduate Scholars for the Class of 2009. The scholarship program was established by the Duke Alumni Association in 1979 to recognize the academic, extracurricular, and personal achievements of children, grandchildren, or relatives of Duke alumni.
Porter, of Tucson, Arizona, is the daughter of Nancy H. Porter '82 and James L. Porter. At St. Gregory High School, she won numerous awards and honors in math, science, and the visual arts. During the school year, she conducted research in the biophysics department at the University of Arizona. Porter maintains that she has always been "'true blue' in a sea of Arizona red."
Porter spent her summers traveling to Costa Rica, Madagascar, and Duke to research lemurs. Since then, she has "always remained entranced by lemurs and their quirky antics." At Duke, she intends to design a Program II major to accommodate her passions: science, art, and lemurs.
Tuson, of Yorktown Heights, New York, is the daughter of Jane A. Hewitt '74 and Geoffrey Tuson. In high school, she was captain of her track and cross-country teams her senior year. She was a member of the Spanish Club, the National Honor Society, and her school's math team, in which she qualified for the New York state math competition. She also volunteered with various community-service organizations, including two "Midnight Runs" during which she delivered food and blankets to the homeless of New York City. However, her artistic endeavors were her favorite nonacademic experiences, she says. She helped design stage sets and murals for school dances. Tuson says she enjoys solving problems using unconventional and creative methods, and plans to study biomedical engineering, with a minor in the visual arts.
Recipients of Undergraduate Alumni Endowed Scholarship must demonstrate financial need. Up to two scholars are selected annually. Unlike previous years in which the scholarship was a partial-tuition award renewable for four years, it is now a four-year, full-tuition scholarship that involves a summer academic experience of the scholar's choice, including the opportunity to study abroad. In addition, scholars are invited to participate in educational, social, and cultural programming on campus during their Duke career.