Jason Lapidus, a junior at Duke University, has been going nonstop since graduating from Durham Academy in 2015. He spent a semester at the London School of Economics, is gearing up to compete in the ACC and NCAA men’s tennis tournaments and will do an internship at Visa Headquarters in California this summer. He credits Durham Academy with teaching him valuable lessons in observation and gratitude.
Q — What have you been up to since graduating from Durham Academy?
A — I’m currently a junior at Duke University, majoring in psychology and completing a certificate in the Markets and Management program and a minor in Visual and Media Studies. I am a member of the Duke men’s tennis team and in the best shape of my life. Last summer, I spent a semester at the London School of Economics. The challenges at Duke are many. Each day brings unique opportunities, whether intellectual, physical or social, that require thoughtful consideration. I am fortunate to be pushed and inspired by some of the finest educators, coaches, teammates and fellow students. Through it all, I feel uniquely prepared for all that awaits in large part because of the foundation provided by my Durham Academy experience.
Q — What DA experiences influenced you or helped you get where you are today?
A — I learned a lot in my 14 years as a Cavalier. It filled my mind with plenty of “textbook” information. However, the real benefits were not solely from books and lectures, but from the intangibles gained through my interactions and collaborations with members of the faculty and staff. These experiences and the knowledge that has come from it taught me two lessons: the importance of skillful observation and what it means to be grateful. Being observant allows you to recognize a situation and assess the changing variables around you. With constantly changing schedules and activities on all DA campuses, the opportunities for careful observation and the need to make choices were everywhere. Whether it was Spirit Week, Special Olympics, an assembly speaker, a fine arts performance or an athletic event, DA allowed me to embrace new experiences, push my boundaries and expand intellectually. Being observant is invaluable; the more information you can absorb from your environment, the more you learn and intuitively make better choices. If you bury your head in your social media profiles, or in an abnormally thick textbook, you will miss out on what is happening around you. DA provides a setting in which students can truly learn from their surroundings, a crucial skill as you navigate through the multitude of offerings on a college campus.
These opportunities for exploration have taught me what it means to be grateful. My parents have always instilled in me a feeling of gratitude and appreciation, but the community of DA encouraged its growth. My interactions with faculty and staff were always ones of mutual respect and admiration. I cannot remember walking away from a one-on-one conversation with a DA teacher without thinking that, at that moment, they truly cared for me. It really is special to have so many people surrounding you with care. This is the essence of DA that remains with you long after you leave the school. This type of unwavering support makes me incredibly grateful for having such unique DA memories, self-awareness, confidence and solid footing for higher education. On a college campus, diversity of beliefs, ideas and skills is ample, yet I still feel in our lives as college students, specifically at Duke, much is taken for granted. Simple things like saying thank you or holding the door for someone go a long way. DA has made being gracious second nature.
Q — What’s on the horizon for you?
A — Immediately ahead for me are the ACC and NCAA Championships. In June, I head to the Visa Headquarters in California to be the Strategy and Planning Intern on the Global Brand, Sponsorship and Innovation Marketing team. After that, the world awaits, and I know I am entering it with a positive attitude, an observant mindset and a sense of gratitude for all those who have made my life incredible so far.