Matthew Tran. B.A. 2019

National Organizer, The Center for Popular Democracy – Chinatown NYC

2019 Major: International Comparative Studies and Political Science

How has being an ICS graduate from Duke helped shape you personally and/or professionally?

"My time as an ICS undergraduate helped me answer a lot of questions I had about the world, how my work fit inside of it, and the way I wanted to navigate it as a young organizer and writer (both inside and outside of a career). The courses I took across ICS faculty challenged and grew my understanding of political struggle in ways I otherwise wouldn't have from a "conventional" Duke education. As the world has changed since our class graduated, I'm still building on and practically drawing from a lot of what I learned at Duke. I did community organizing work for a couple of years and now work on policing and decarceral campaigns from a national perspective. I recently got to contribute a book chapter to a published academic project and reached back to a lot of readings I was assigned as an ICS major!"

What advice would you give students in Duke's International Comparative Studies programs? 

"Take time to explore what speaks to you, find what personally feels right, and lean into what gives you joy! The perspectives you grow from classes and study abroad programs can end up being "useful" in a lot of unexpected ways down the road. It's much easier said than done, but I'd say to also do your best in not getting too drawn into the pre-professional and competitive pressure towards certain careers that can build as you get closer to graduation. It can be exciting learning about career options that are fulfilling in different ways, and also the types of fulfillment to be found outside of the job market. Things like getting involved in your community—whatever that means to you—don't have to wait until you finish school. Half of what we learn during these four years is from how we choose to engage as people outside of the classroom."

Matthew Tran