Motivating: Self-Belief | Duke Catalyst

Sloan Talbot is a graduate of the Trinity School of Arts, Class of 2019. She spent much of her time on campus with the Kenan Institute of Ethics as a tutor to refugee students and as a student researcher in the Citizen Change Lab. Now, a first year PhD student in Emory University’s department of Sociology, Talbot’s passion for inclusion and identity development is the driving question for her learning. Below, she reflects on her continued commitment to Duke as a Nowicki Fellow for Student Engagement.

She answers the question, how do you avoid burn out while optimizing time and building skills?

Sloan Talbot T’19 Cultural Anthropology
One of the best decisions I made during undergrad was choosing to take a few years off of school after graduation and do a two-year professional fellowship before I went to graduate school. I knew I wanted to further my education, but I needed time to figure out exactly what I wanted to study and also gain professional work experience to see if this was a career field I was interested in pursuing long-term. While my original plan was to go straight into another degree program as many of my peers were doing, I listened to the advice of mentors, reflected on my own goals, and realized I needed a break from being a full-time student. One of the things that helped me make this decision was knowing that the position was a two-year commitment only.

I set myself up for having to have a plan in place to go back to school and created a timeline to work on my graduate school applications in chunks spread out over the two years. This helped make the process much less daunting while also providing me valuable time to reflect on what I wanted to be doing long term and truly know that the path I was choosing for myself was what I actually wanted to pursue. While switching plans my senior year to pivot from graduate school applications to professional interviews was initially scary, it was the best thing I could do for myself. I listened to what I needed at that moment and I ended up having an amazing two years working where I gained incredible mentors and experiences that helped me with graduate school applications and figuring out where I want my future career to lead to. 

By KJ Juett
KJ Juett Catalyst Fellow