On July 29, 2019, the Duke University Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity hosted its Capstone Conference for the fifth annual Hank and Billye Suber Aaron Young Scholars Research Institute. Nearly 50 middle and high school students from Durham Public Schools—participants in the program for one, two, or three summers—convened to present the research they conducted over the prior three weeks.
First-year students were responsible for producing digital media content; second-year students crafted research posters; and third-year students had the charge of creating rigorous research papers, coupled with a TED-style talk. This year’s student projects ranged from studies on the gentrification of Durham’s historic land and the state of Black America after the Great Recession to explorations of how “green beauty” exploits minority culture and the way that media stereotypes of Black men affect their mental health.
Keynote speaker Dr. Sally Nuamah, a Northwestern University professor, encouraged the students to continue to pursue research, asserting it is an effective way to make an impact and change lives.
Honored guests were community activist and educator Mrs. Billye Suber Aaron, for whom the program is named, along with the family of Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook, for whom the Cook Center is named. Also in attendance, in addition to many community supporters, were Durham County Commissioners and affiliates of Durham Public Schools, including principals, teachers, and school board members.