On Monday, February 5th, Duke University Athletics presented REAL Talk, a program that brought back seven alums to campus to share their thoughts and advice on leadership and navigating the transition from life as a Duke student-athlete to life in the working world. Alumni returning to participate included Troy Austin (’00 Football), Dr. Georgia Beasley (’01 Women's Basketball), Immanuel Kerr-Brown (’15 Wrestling), Michael Di Marco (’07 Fencing), Sue Gordon ('80 Women's Basketball), Abby Johnston McGrath (’13 Diving), and Callie Simpkins (’13 Women's Soccer). The program was open to all student-athletes and was held in Scharf Hall and the Duke Athletics Hall of Fame.
Following a brief social gathering, the program kicked off with a panel discussion on Leadership. Sue Gordon '80, the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, moderated a large group discussion centered on leadership on the personal and professional level. Next the student-athletes switched into male and female groups for a timely discussion on gender centered leadership. Student-athletes were given insight into the differences, challenges, and opportunities of leading based on their gender. Finally, the program wrapped up with four break out sessions on Transitioning into the Working World, Engaging what you Learned at Duke, Adapting to a New You, and Learning to Lead in a New Environment.
When asked about the program, Alyssa Chillano '18 (Field Hockey) stated, “The Real Talk program was a wonderful experience for all student-athletes at Duke. The speakers gave great insight about their personal leadership styles, which made it easy for everyone to connect with someone in the room. It was great to learn how our leadership skills as Duke student-athletes are transferable for when we enter the work place.”
REAL Talk was organized by Duke Student Athlete Development and the Duke Athletics Leadership Program.
To read more about our Alumni panelists, see below:
Troy Austin '00
Troy Austin is the Athletic Director at Longwood University in Farmville, VA. A former Duke Football player, Austin was a team captain during his time on campus. He also served as an intern for the Duke Athletic Department, coordinating the Read With the Blue Devil program. Troy earned his Master’s degree from VCU’s Center of Sports Leadership.
Dr. Georgia Beasley '01
Dr. Georgia Beasley is a member of the Duke Athletics Hall of Fame - inducted in 2013. A two-time ACC Player of the Year and All-American, she played in the Women’s NBA for the Minnesota Lynx for several seasons before returning Duke to attend Medical School. After graduating Dr. Beasley served as a Fellow for Complex General Surgical Oncology at The Ohio State University. She returned to Duke once again and currently is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at Duke University.
Immanuel Kerr-Brown '15
Immanuel Kerr-Brown recently began work at Penn State as the Assistant Director of the Annual Fund, the Nittany Lion Club. A two-time NCAA Qualifier at 157 pounds, Kerr-Brown also received the first Heidrick Family Leadership Scholarship Award upon graduating. Following graduation from Duke, Immanuel went on to earn his Master’s degree in Sports Administration and M.B.A. from Ohio University.
Michael Di Marco '07
Michael Di Marco currently serves as the Chief of Program at Higher Education in Washington, DC. The 2007 graduate was a three-time Academic Honor Roll member and also earned a certificate in Non-Profit/Public/Organizational Management from Georgetown University.
Sue Gordon '80
A 1980 graduate, Sue was a three-time team captain of the Women’s Basketball program. She has spent the majority of her career in service to her country having worked with CIA for over 25 years and several years as Deputy Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Today, Sue is the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence.
Abby Johnston McGrath '13
Abby Johnston McGrath is currently enrolled in the Duke University Medical School. A two-time Olympian (’12, ’16), Abby won a silver medal in the synchronized 3-meter dive in 2012. She is a seven-time National Champion and was the first Duke diver to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
Callie Simpkins '13
Callie Simpkins is a former Duke Women’s Soccer player, and is currently working in Leveraged Sales at Goldman Sachs. A 2013 graduate of Duke University, Simpkins was a team captain and played for the New York Athletic Club Women’s Professional Summer League.