Outstanding Volunteers

November 30, 2007

The Duke Alumni Association and the Annual Fund will present Charles A. Dukes Awards to four alumni for outstanding volunteer service to the university. The awards are named for the late Dukes '29, director of alumni affairs from 1944 to 1963, and honor individuals who reflect his dedication to the university. Dukes award winners are selected by the DAA board of directors and the executive committee of the Annual Fund.

This year's recipients are Babita Lal Deitrich B.S.E. '89, M.B.A. '96; Sibylle Gierschmann J.D. '99; Kathleen E. Viall Gallagher B.S.N. '75; and David E. Majestic '80, M.H.A. '83.

Deitrich is the Engineering Alumni Association vice president for this academic year. She has been a member of the Engineering Alumni Association Council since 2002. "It makes me feel good to share my skills, experience, and ideas to further this university and support all of its stakeholders," she says. She adds that volunteering has been "a thought-provoking journey" that has allowed her to re-engage with the Pratt School, including current students. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Gallagher, of Ambler, Pennsylvania, has held several volunteer positions with her nursing-school class. She has been a nursing class representative for the Annual Fund; nursing class chair or co-chair of her 15th, 20th, 25th, and 30th reunions; and a member of the Nursing Advisory Council and chair of the fundraising committee. The university "has provided me with many opportunities and enriched my life in many ways," she says. "From the moment I saw the four spires of the chapel, I have been in love with and inspired by all that is Duke. Being a part of the Duke community has given me the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself, and for that I am grateful."

Gierschmann, who lives in Munich, is a founding member of the Duke Club of Germany; she became co-president in 2001 and is now president. She is also a member of the Duke Law Alumni Board. "I like to volunteer for Duke because I would like to give back to the university, help others to have the same great experience, keep up the 'Duke spirit' abroad, and network with Dukies," she says. "After six years of organizing events for the Duke Club of Germany, I am still astonished by the fact that every event is a nice one, because you are sure to have fun, open-minded, and interesting people on board."

Majestic, a twenty-four-year employee of the university and a Durham resident, is the director of planning for Auxiliary Services. He is a longtime volunteer for the Duke Children's Classic, a celebrity golf tournament that raises funds for the Duke Children's Hospital, and for the Jimmy V Kids Klassic, which supports cancer patients at the children's hospital. Majestic also has worked with the Duke student group Toys 'n' Tales, which provides gifts to a local elementary school during the holiday season. Beyond his Duke volunteer activities, he raises funds for Durham school children as a founding member of the Bull City League.

"I believe that fortunate and responsible members of a community are obligated to invest in and provide support to less fortunate community members," he says. "The doctors, nurses, and staff at Duke Children's Hospital enable families to maintain a sense of hope and strength to overcome the medical hardship they face. Volunteering for these worthy causes helps me keep in perspective and to appreciate the good fortune of my [own] family."