DURHAM, N.C. – Senior Greg Paulus of the men’s basketball team and freshman Chelsea Hopkins of the women’s basketball team both spoke to eighth graders from nine different Durham Public Schools about the importance of education and the opportunities that begin by attending college.
The two Duke student-athletes spoke in front of approximately 400 eighth graders that were seated in Cameron Indoor Stadium as part of the Duke-Durham School Days program, which has been running for the past nine seasons.
“Chelsea Hopkins was one of the speakers and the other speaker was Greg Paulus,” David Stein, the program’s organizer, said. “Chelsea was a little nervous early, but she hit her stride and then connected with the kids. Greg is very polished. He has clearly done this before. He knew how to integrate the academics and the athletics. They both did a great job.”
The students also got the chance to play a little basketball with Hopkins.
“This is the first time we have ever done that,” Stein said. “The kids will never forget that. It was really moving.”
Stein said this is an important time for the eighth-grade students because they are going to be entering high school next year taking the next step in their academic careers. Having both Paulus and Hopkins speak really helps to show the students what they could achieve in a few short years.
“This is the juncture they are making right after this whether they sign up for a college-bound course of study or non-college bound,” Stein said. “An event like this helps motivate them and really gets them moving toward college.”
The eighth graders arrived at Cameron Indoor Stadium at 9:30 this morning. The Duke student-athletes then spoke to them about the importance of academics and leadership before the eighth graders made their way out of Cameron to explore the Duke campus. The students made stops at the Duke Chapel, Perkins Library, the Bryan Student Center and a residence hall for snacks.
Duke faculty member volunteered to meet with the students for short academic sessions, and received lunch from Chick-Fil-A in one of Duke’s dining halls eating with undergraduate students. The day ended with a closing event in the Griffith Film Theater.
Students from D.S.A, Chewning, Neal, Lows’s Grove, Brogden, Githens, Carrington, Shepard and Roger-Herr school attended the event.
“They love it,” Stein said. “The schools call us right away and say ‘are we doing it again, we can’t wait, we have our kids lined up for the event’. It is a great group.”