Ysanne Spence is a junior at Duke double majoring in Cultural Anthropology and Public Policy with a minor in Education. This year, she is committed to taking better care of herself. When she’s not indulging in watching Jamaican YouTubers in her free time, Ysanne shares her love for Duke through her vast campus involvement, seeking inspiration through her family, who she claims are her best parts. She has most recently been selected as DUU’s President for the 2021-2022 Academic Year. Get to know her more below!

How did you first get involved with DUU?

I was first exposed to DUU through BUILD when I heard one of my crew leaders, Catherine Oliver speak so lovingly about it. I looked into it more, and I thought it would be a great opportunity! When the DLC (now the FIP program) applications came out and I saw “leadership cohort”, the over-achiever in me applied. I was fortunate to have gotten in and was placed with the Non-Programming committee. That’s where I’ve been ever since!

Can you share briefly about your role in DUU?

During my Freshman Year, I was a DLCer, matched with DUU’s Non-Programming Committee, and was involved in planning the cohort’s event, Throwback Thursday. I served as the Vice President of Administration my Sophomore Year, through which I took meeting minutes, sent lots of emails, created the blast, and hosted a variety of GBMs. Most recently, as Vice President of External Affairs, I reached out to many other campus groups, served as an alumni liaison, and planned events.

What is your favorite part of the work you do?

I like meeting new people, making connections, and bettering the university for everyone. With COVID, it brings a sort of community that we’ve lost and that Duke is used to.

What academic interests are you pursuing at Duke? Are these interests related to your involvement with DUU?

I am double majoring in Cultural Anthropology and Public Policy with a minor in Education. These interests are not at all related, but that’s why I like that I have DUU. It’s completely separate!

Are you involved with other clubs or organizations on or off-campus? What do you like to do in your free time?

On campus, I am involved with a lot of committee work for the university. I’ve served on search committees, currently work with Student Affairs, sing in Amandla chorus, and tutor for America Reads and America Counts. I am also a part of Duke and Duchesses and a Project BUILD crew leader.

In my free time, I like to read cheesy romance novels. I watch Jamaican YouTubers because they make me feel close to home. I eat a lot in my free time. Recently, I’ve been bingeing 90 Day Fiance. I also just started watching 7 Deadly Sins and I love it!

What is one experience at Duke that has grounded you or shaped your perspective significantly?

During pBUILD, we do an identity activity where everyone stands by a sign they resonate with the most when a question is proposed.  The question I remember vividly is “What do you worry about on a daily basis?”. I stood at “Immigrant Status.” Although my immigrant status has recently changed, it still stands as something that separated me from others that look like me and continues to separate me.

What is one thing you’d like to do, learn, or try in 2021?

I am committed to taking better care of myself. I also want to start crocheting again. I started making a scarf five years ago, and I am determined to finish it. I would also love to travel again, but it is unclear if that will happen any time soon. Duke owes me a trip to France!

How do you stay inspired? Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, artists, etc. that you’d recommend?

I call my parents and sisters. I call my family. They are really good at keeping me on task and in line with my goals. I love them, they’re the best parts of me. I also stay inspired through prayer. One thing that my aunt got me into is watching sermons. I watch Sara Jakes Roberts’ #girlpower sermons, and they never fail to keep me in check.

What’s a piece of advice you would give to your younger self?

“Give yourself grace.”


Now for some rapid fire fun questions!

Favorite spot on campus?

Either Few FF 312 or the DUU office

Favorite place to eat in Durham?


Go-to meal at WU?

Farmstead salmon, mac and cheese, beet salad

Favorite Duke tradition?

“What are the Duke traditions?”

Country or city you’ve always wanted to travel to?


Favorite movie(s)?

I love Shawshank Redemption, and hot take, I love Saving Private Ryan. But, literally any cheesy romance movie or drama is right up my alley.

Favorite album or song?

Either “In Search of Lost Time” by Protege or my favorite song right now is “Lightning” by  Mortimer.

New quarantine hobby?

Is it bad that I didn’t come out with a new hobby during quarantine? I cooked a lot more but I haven’t since school restarted.

Do you have a secret talent?

I can put my foot behind my head #freaky

Best gift you’ve ever received?

I like all my gifts because I ask for what I want

Favorite color and least favorite color?

Favorite color right now is yellow. My least favorite color is red.

Favorite scent?

I love a vanilla caramel snickerdoodle combo.

Something you’re looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to being able to travel again and being with my family!