Scholar Profiles

Allayne Thomas

Campus: Duke
Hometown: Raleigh, NC
High School: William G. Enloe High School

It all started in elementary school. Somehow I stumbled upon The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes and I was mesmerized, captivated by how he weaved words together to create a poignant thought. From then on I would constantly be lost in the beauty of words, asking to add a poetry section to school projects and even performing at my high school talent show. While I enjoyed all of my school life, I was particularly drawn to courses that involved writing, history, and open discussion. I enjoyed the feeling of being challenged, learning new material, and engaging with the school community around me.

In high school, I joined both the Newspaper staff and the Speech & Debate Club as ways to pursue and develop my love of writing and performance poetry. My experiences in these clubs have shaped me into a leader that is both driven and understanding.

However, the club that has been the most impactful on my development was Beyond the Bars. Beyond the Bars is a student organization I helped to found in my junior year that seeks to raise awareness and inspire discussion about the juvenile justice system in North Carolina. Under the support of the Bezos Scholars program, we planned different monthly meetings on the school campus and one extensive community event in April that brought various audience members together for a day of learning. In Beyond the Bars, I became aware of the pivotal role education plays in giving juveniles a second chance and providing a safe community to learn and thrive. I realized the impact I could have with a law degree on public education, re-direction programs, and the resegregation of our schools. Merging my passions of learning, writing, and law, I hope to continue in this arena to be an education justice advocate both locally and globally. I was the beneficiary of so many opportunities that most students do not get the chance to see. My parents immigrated from Jamaica and instilled in me a passion for learning and helping others. I hope to give back not only to my local community, but to theirs as well. I plan to major in Public Policy, but look forward to enlarging my realm of knowledge and experience in taking interesting, challenging courses. Paired with my passion for education justice, I aim to write poetry as a way to share my message and urge kids to reach their fullest potential. As I think ecstatically about the opportunities contained in the next four years and beyond, I remember the words of my favorite poet Nayyirah Waheed:

“do not choose the lesser life. choose the life that is. yours.”

Her words contain both a challenge and a promise. In the future, I hope to knit my currently scattered career and academic interests together to create a life for myself that is challenging and inspiring.

What drew you to the Robertson Program? I have always been grateful for the significant figures in my life who guided me to where I am today. The lessons I learned from close teachers at school, my supportive and understanding family, and a challenging and driven school population emphasized how important it is to surround yourself with people who will push you further down the path to success you were meant to take. Initially, I was drawn to the legacy of success, intellectual fervor, and access to two fantastic universities that the Robertson Program promised. With two older sisters who went to UNC-CH, it was the best of both worlds to not have to choose the better blue. However, when I met the Robertson community for the first time at finalist weekend, I was amazed at all the future possibilities I could envision. From planning local seminars and new organizations on campus to expanding our cultural knowledge abroad, I knew the guidance of such an innovative, compassionate set of people would support me no matter how my dreams may adjust over the years and give me the knowledge, skills, and energy necessary to reach my highest potential. As a Robertson scholar, I aspire to leave behind my own legacy of compassion, curiosity, and creativity to my peers and others I will touch through this program.

Thomas, A