A Path Less Travelled

Samantha stands with her bike in Downtown Durham
Samantha talks to Duke students in the Bryan Plaza.

Program II

A Path less Travelled

How a student created an individualized degree with Program II.

Samantha talks to Duke students in the Bryan Plaza.
Samantha stands with her bike in Downtown Durham

Samantha Miezio ‘21 knew she wanted to study urban planning, but didn’t want to be tied down to a rigid urban planning program. Duke gave her the opportunity to curate her own academic path through the Program II individualized degree.

“I sought a more holistic approach to urban planning,” Samantha explained. During her first year, she realized her interests fell across many academic departments. She decided to meet with Dean Rachael Murphey-Brown, director of Program II, to see if Program II could be a good fit. With Dean Murphey-Brown’s encouragement, Samantha began to craft an interdisciplinary degree focused on the historical, political, and social contexts of cities.

With Program II, Samantha has been able to explore the balance between academia and community engagement within urban planning and the relationship between transportation and land use. In her research and exploration, Samantha maintains a humanities-based approach that offers her a fresh perspective in urban planning.

Throughout her undergraduate career, Samantha has taken advantage of Duke’s connections to the thriving Research Triangle area. She takes courses in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill while utilizing the flexibility that Duke offers to shape her academic requirements.

Duke has allowed Samantha to take her learning into the real world, whether it be down the street or across the world. She has interned in Durham at local non-profit organizations, advocated for sustainable transportation as a Green Devils intern, spent a summer in Detroit through DukeEngage, and traveled to South Africa with DukeImmerse: Politics and Urban Society.

“Program II has given me the incredible opportunity to have an individualized academic path that’s unique to what I’m interested in,” Samantha said. “It has made Duke so much fun because every class I take was handpicked by me.”