Tiana Elame, a second-year student in the Duke Environmental Leadership Master of Environmental Management (DEL-MEM) program, recently shared insights into why she's pursuing her degree, how she balances her studies while running a company and how she's applying what she's learning to her job.

Elame is founder and CEO of Environmental Answers LLC (EnvAns). She was recently selected to join the 2023-24 cohort of Duke’s Melissa and Doug Entrepreneurs Accelerator program.


The DEL-MEM stood out as the best opportunity to build my business while expanding my network to the top leaders in the environmental industry. As a solo founder, developing a strong community of support is critical to my success. Therefore, the DEL-MEM provided me the flexibility to achieve my goals without putting a pause on my dreams.

What’s been the highlight of your time in the program? 

Building relationships with my peers through the group projects in our course work. I love this because, although the DEL-MEM can be completed primarily remotely, most courses allow for opportunities to work together.

Group of DEL-MEM students on top of Duke Chapel

Elame and fellow DEL-MEM students at the top of Duke Chapel

How do you balance your career with your studies?

A fact that I hate to admit is that I can not do everything. As a wife, caregiver, founder, student, sister, daughter, I wear a lot of hats! Setting boundaries has been key in the program—both with school and with outside priorities. Extending myself grace has helped with balancing things as well.

How are you applying what you’ve learned to your job?

The best thing about the DEL-MEM is that you apply what you are learning to the job as you matriculate. I have been able to apply the leadership skills I developed through the required leadership seminars immediately which makes the skill even more real and valuable.