MEMs Brianna Elliott and Diego Calderon-Arrieta to Receive ‘Forever Duke’ Awards

April 20, 2017

Contact: Tim Lucas, 919/613-8084 or

DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke Alumni Association will present Forever Duke Student Leadership Awards to two Nicholas School of the Environment students.


Brianna Elliott and Diego Calderon-Arrieta, who will both graduate this May with Master of Environmental Management (MEM) degrees from the Nicholas School, will receive their awards at the Center for Leadership and Social Action’s annual “In the Spotlight” ceremony at 5 p.m. today, April 20, at the Arts Annex in Durham.

They are among 18 graduating students campus-wide selected for the honor this year.

Forever Duke Awards are presented by the Duke Alumni Association to recognize graduating students who embody the university’s guiding principle of “knowledge in the service of society.”  Recipients are individuals of high integrity who have done great things during their student careers and are leaving Duke a better place than they found it

“You’d be hard pressed to name two more highly engaged students than Brianna and Diego,” said Jeffrey Vincent, Stanback Dean of the Nicholas School. “Their service to the school and university has been exemplary.”

Elliott, who will receive her MEM in coastal environmental management, is a member of the Nicholas School’s Student Blogging Team. Her widely read posts, “Living Blue,” spotlight timely issues in marine conservation.

She has conducted more than 300 hours of pro bono writing and research for Duke’s Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, much of it focused on cases involving sea turtle conservation. She serves as a policy assistant for the Marine Conservation Ecology Lab at the Duke Marine Lab; a policy coordinator for the Ocean Policy Working Group; a teaching assistant in Socal Media for Environmental Communications. She also was a member of the planning committee that organized the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Marine Mammal Symposium at the Duke Marine Lab earlier this month.


Calderon-Arrieta will receive his MEM in ecosystem science and conservation. In 2016, he received a Julian Abele Award from Duke’s Black Graduate and Professional Student Association as the “Nicholas School Student of the Year” for making important strides in diversity and inclusion at both the Nicholas School and other graduate and professional schools across Duke’s campus. 

He serves as vice president of the Nicholas School’s Diverse and Inclusive Community for the Environment (DICE) student group; is a co-chair of the school’s Black and Latino Club, and also serves as the representative for the Nicholas School’s MEM/MF program on Duke’s Graduate and Professional Student Council, among numerous other leadership activities.