CDS Celebrates Certificate in Documentary Studies Graduates

Last Class Zoom
Zoom screenshot of Spring 2020 Capstone Seminar students with instructor Chris Sims, CDS's undergraduate education director (top right)


The Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) is proud to recognize sixteen undergraduates from the 2019–2020 academic year—fifteen from Duke University, one from UNC–Chapel Hill—who graduated or will graduate with a Certificate in Documentary Studies. Working in one or more documentary mediums—photography, filmmaking, writing, audio, performance, among others—students complete a program of study involving community-based research and fieldwork. Certificate students completed their final documentary projects in Capstone Seminars under the guidance of CDS instructor Nancy Kalow (Fall 2019 grads) and CDS undergraduate education director Chris Sims (Spring 2020 grads).

This video tribute to the certificate graduates by CDS director Wesley Hogan is included on Duke University’s Marking the Moment: Duke 2020, an interactive digital experience celebrating and honoring the Class of 2020 that debuted on graduation day, May 10. A traditional in-person commencement ceremony will take place at a later date. Please join us in congratulating these extraordinary student documentarians, and read more about their final projects below.

Certificate in Documentary Studies graduates, 2019–2020

Leah Abrams (Public Policy, History)
A Day in Ms. Casey's Class, a short audio immersion into a second-grade classroom in Durham, North Carolina, which serves to remind us all of how isolating and demeaning our discipline policies can be.



Lara Breitkreutz (Environmental Sciences)
Reconsidering the Oyster, an artful video interpretation of oysters and their farming along North Carolina’s coasts, exploring industry opportunities and constraints and their ecological significance.




Gabbe Cadoux (Visual & Media Studies)
Our Scars, Our Stories, a photographic exploration of how scars are, in many ways, the embodiment of our lives.






Gentry Fitch (History, Mathematics / UNC-Chapel Hill)
Power in Numbers: Underground Queer Communities in Authoritarian Turkey, a textile-based project that shares the lived experiences of three Turkish queer activists and performers.





Faven Getahun (Political Science)
Every day, forever and ever is a photographic exploration of how symbols of faith, specifically Christianity, manifest in daily life and inform our relationships with faith, particularly in the intimate space of my family’s home in Maryland.




Helen Healey (Visual & Media Studies)
Quarantined, a photographic journey documenting our current situation through the lens of my town and my family.




Lydia Hendrick (Biology)
A Conversation, a study of my family history via audio interviews and archival materials found in old family photo albums, documenting rural farm life, generational changes, and general life advice.






Olivia Hicks (Environmental Sciences)
My Soul Moves in Cycles, a poetry book intimately exploring the mind and body as it goes through unceasing cycles of grieving, breaking, and healing in the aftermath of sexual assault.



Rae Hsu (English)
out/lines, a conversation with my father’s artwork through drawings, words, and photographs.





Conrad Liu (Computer Science, Economics)
The Kesem Project is a collection of narratives and experiences of college counselors from across the country seeking to uncover what exactly makes Camp Kesem so special and answering one simple question: What makes the magic?



Corey Pilson (Political Science)
Questions of COVID, a photographic examination of the experience of Durham in the era of COVID-19, specifically as it relates to me and the residents of McDougald Terrace.



James Robinson (Environmental Science and Policy)
Whale Eyes: A filmmaker comes to terms with his visual condition through interviews with family and friends.



Lenae Ryan (Public Policy Studies)
Get Ur Freak On, a video portrait of Al-Nisa Lawson, a working mother of two and professional stand-up comedian in Durham, North Carolina, who shares with us her passion for making people laugh and how she got where she is today.



Karissa Tu (Biology)
[Commuting] Home, a project exploring interstitial identity in the context of place, time, memory, and history through my story as a Taiwanese American from Bozeman, Montana.






Shuang Yu (Cultural Anthropology)
Jim's Jungle, a video project that documents Jim Kellough’s exploration of his relationship with his creative world and with Durham at the age of 72.





Sangjie Zhaxi (Cultural Anthropology)
Dor-me Education, a documentary film about a school in a herding community on the Tibetan Plateau.