Home for the Holidays is a program offered by the Office of Development and Alumni Relations (ODAR) that seeks to bring together Nicholas School students and Nicholas School alumni over the academic winter break. As a part of the alumni engagement program Go·Grow·Give, Home for the Holidays provides students and alumni the opportunity to informally connect about the Nicholas School and the MEM/MF student experience.

How it works

Each fall, the Office of Development and Alumni Relations (ODAR) pairs student participants with an alum who lives in their hometown or wherever they will be for their holiday break. The alumni-student pairs then arrange a meet-up at a location and time of their choosing during the holiday break to engage in casual conversation with the goal of strengthening Nicholas School community connections.

It was a pleasure to connect with a coastal student from Colorado. I was able to assist her with making some connections for her research, and she was able to fill me in on what’s new in Durham. She was even able to connect me with someone who’s now working with me! I love the way Duke connections continue well beyond our days on campus. Needless to say, ‘Home for the Holiday’s was a great benefit to both of us!”

Rebecca Beavers PhD’99, Home for the Holidays participant

Alumni will...

  • discover new ways to get involved with the Nicholas School.
  • hear first-hand experiences of what student life is currently like.
  • learn about new school initiatives, programs and announcements.
  • have the opportunity to help the student network and offer career advice.

Students will...

  • gain perspective from an alum who has already completed the Nicholas School student experience.
  • strengthen their personal and professional network.
  • give back to those that came before them by providing valuable updates on the school.

How to participate 

Alumni can express their interest in program participation at any time by completing the alumni volunteer interest survey and choosing Home for the Holidays as a program in which they would like to participate. Each fall, the Office of Development and Alumni Relations (ODAR) contacts these alumni to confirm their interest before providing next steps. 

Student recruitment for the program begins in late October or early November; students should receive an email which will inquire about their interest in the program and list the locations of alumni participating in the program. Interested students must:

  • fill out the necessary form found in the email.
  • have an updated LinkedIn profile containing their Nicholas School information.
  • have activated their profile on the DAA alumni network.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are alumni paired with students?

After identifying and selecting student participants in the fall of each year, the Office of Development and Alumni Relations (ODAR) will contact alumni who — through the completion of the alumni volunteer interest survey — have expressed interest in the Home for the Holidays program in order to confirm their interest. Once interest is confirmed, ODAR will contact these alumni to provide information on a student that will be in their city or town over the holiday break.

Note: If there are multiple students who will be in the same area, ODAR will attempt to pair students and alumni based on common interests (field of study, etc.).

What will participants talk about during their meetings?

As a starting point, students are provided with conversation topics before their meeting, most of which pertain to various updates about the school (new programs, announcements, fun facts, etc.).

These catch-up conversations are a way for alumni to find out about the school and about student experiences at the Nicholas School. If alumni participants are interested in finding out what their favorite professor is up to, what is happening at the Marine Lab, what the student did over the summer, etcetera, this is the place to ask!

Are alumni expected to give career advice?

The main focus of these meetings is for alumni and students to connect as individuals and through their association with the Nicholas School community. Home for the Holidays is not a career-centered program, but if alumni-student pairs share similar interests or career goals, career conversations are certainly encouraged. Students may ask general questions about their alumni's work or profession, but alumni should not feel pressured to provide career advice.

How long will the meetings last?

Program participants should anticipate a minimum meeting duration of 30 – 45 minutes, but depending on the level of engagement, meetings may run longer.

Where will the meetings take place?

Once paired, student participants are responsible for making first contact, which includes determining a meeting location. ODAR suggests locations that are close to public transportation or have ample parking, are moderately priced, and can accommodate those with dietary restrictions.  Potential meeting locations include coffee cafes, smoothie shops, delis, etc.



Contact Katie O'Grady, Development Project Coordinator, at katelyn.ogrady@duke.edu