Frosh Adds to Accolades

October 1, 2006
Mission immersion: Strasburger eager to explore Duke's offerings

Mission immersion: Strasburger eager to explore Duke's offerings. Richard Strasburger

Richard Lee Strasburger Jr. says that his decision to attend Duke was based primarily on the university's academic reputation, but an additional, if minor, factor was that it also satisfied one of his mother's wishes--it wasn't too far from his hometown of Spartanburg, South Carolina. He says he was impressed by Duke's strengths in both mathematics and music--something he says can be hard to find at one school.

Strasburger, who enrolled at Duke this fall, is the recipient of this year's Alumni Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship, established by the Duke Alumni Association in 1979 to recognize the academic, extracurricular, and personal achievements of children and grandchildren of Duke alumni who are accepted for undergraduate admission to Duke. Strasburger's grandfather was the Reverend George H. Ricks '34.

It is not just Strasburger's mother who is glad he is staying in the Carolinas. He says his love of scuba diving and backpacking, the beach and the mountains, will be well served from a home base in Durham. (Strasburger has been on nearly thirty dives, including one in eight-foot swells, where the waves rose as high as sixteen feet.)

In high school, he participated in cross country, "one of the most challenging activities I have done so far," he says. "The mental push required to run harder than you should for longer than you can is something that I do not come by easily. But when it does come, it is amazing."

Many of Strasburger's accomplishments involve his desire to push himself. "Coming into and then out of my board of review for Eagle Scout was a very thrilling experience," he says of his experience in the Boy Scouts. "I was definitely the youngest scout [at age thirteen] that board had seen in a long time, and I was very nervous and excited during the whole ordeal."

For his final project to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, he made and installed bat houses for Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve, a nonprofit oasis in the midst of Spartanburg. He then educated people about the benefits of bats, including their propensity for eating mosquitoes, and worked to dispel negative myths about the creatures. Last year he was one of the representatives from the southeast region's Boy Scouts at the national Jamboree, where he taught "leave no trace" camping for the Department of the Interior. In addition to his outdoor activities, he sings and plays the viola.

Strasburger says he's excited about becoming involved at Duke. "I can't wait to immerse myself in college life." While he is fairly certain he knows what he wants to do, he adds, he is open to following his varied interests. "Class is only half of the experience. However, I plan on being a pre-med student with hopes of being an oral surgeon," he says. "Plus, I would love to take some classes that involve the Lemur Center and basically anything that seems to be interesting."

The Undergraduate Alumni Endowed Scholarship is a four-year, full-tuition scholarship for students with demonstrated financial need. The scholarship also pays for a summer academic experience of the scholar's choice, including the opportunity to study abroad. In addition, scholars are invited to participate in special educational, social, and cultural programming on campus during their Duke career.