Duke Names Fourth Class of Nakayama Scholars

2024 Nakayama Scholars, clockwise from top left: Juniors Vineet Chovatia, Amy Fulton, Sarah Konrad, Will Lieber, Thomas Newberry and Elliot Yoon

“It is an honor to be associated with such an esteemed and talented group of leaders. Like previous cohorts, this group of Nakayama scholars have the determination, humanity, and humility to make a difference in the world. I’m so glad we are investing in their future,” said Chris Simmons, vice president for government relations and director of the Nakayama program.

In addition to paying one half of recipients’ tuition for their senior year, the scholarship includes a year of programming to help guide the students in fulfilling their interest in public service. The Office of University Scholars and Fellows administers this program, giving the students the opportunity to participate in the wider community of merit scholars at Duke.

The program is funded by an endowment made by Yukio and Toshiko Nakayama. Yukio Nakayama graduated from Duke in 1941 and served in the US military during World War II. He then dedicated his life to public service, in both a long career as director of Weapons Program Evacuation and Management Systems in U.S. Naval Ordinance, and in helping numerous young people further their education.

The Nakayama Public Service Scholars for the Class of 2025:

Vineet Chovatia is from Princeton Junction, New Jersey, and is double majoring in public policy and economics. He cares about working to reform the criminal justice system and dismantle processes affect indigent people and communities of color. Vineet saw these problems first-hand as he worked for the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender and for the Special Litigation Division at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. Vineet has also explored federal policy making as a legislative intern for Senator Cory Booker.

At Duke, Vineet is a researcher on the active investigations team of the Duke Law Innocence Project and serves as a teaching assistant for Thomas Nechyba’s Intermediate Microeconomics course. After graduation, Vineet plans on pursuing work in public defense and civil rights litigation as well as policy advocacy.

Amy Fulton is studying neuroscience and global health. Originally from Hudson, Ohio, she is the director of Duke EMS as well as a Firefighter-EMT at Lebanon Fire Department. She teaches CPR, first aid, bleeding control, and other EMS topics to the community, including as a House Course instructor at Duke, a BLS instructor, and the Education Coordinator for Camp Empowerment, a summer camp introducing first aid to kids. She also does research on traumatic brain injury (TBI), both in the lab with Duke Neurology, and in the field with her Bass Connections team, which is working on improving the care transition for TBI patients in Uganda.

Her other research involves new treatments for rare neurovascular diseases like moyamoya. After two months volunteering with a global health initiative in Ghana, and three bouts of malaria, she now works as a College Ambassador for the UN Foundation’s United to Beat Malaria campaign. She is also a Youth Advisor with the Department of State through IN Network. Amy is one of the Co-Founders of Duke Women’s Wellness Club and a Co-President of Duke Student Wellness Caucus. She’ll be at Duke for a fifth year through the accelerated masters in global health program and is hoping to attend medical school after that. She plans to spend her career improving global health equity through clinical practice, research, education, and advocacy.

Sarah Konrad is from Indianapolis, Indiana, majoring in history with minors in French studies and computer science. She is exploring the historical construction of legal rights and the interaction of the law with marginalized groups. Konrad is a researcher and author for the Duke Institutional History Project, for which she has studied the relationship between women, the university and slavery.

She is currently a Gilder Lehrman College Fellow in American History, researching the history of criminal jurisprudence in the slaveholding South. Konrad is the creator of the ContrApartheid Dispatch, an advocacy platform centered on gender apartheid in Afghanistan and international law, which she has researched for the past year under Professor Catherine Admay. After graduation, she aims to attend law school and pursue a career in human rights and constitutional law.

Will Lieber is resident of Springfield, Illinois, a transfer student, and a Patman Political Engagement Fellow. Lieber is a Program II major who has designed a curriculum to study the intersection between health and incarceration, particularly as it relates to the growth of corrections industries in rural communities across the United States. At Duke, he conducts research on mental health in the Durham County justice system, teaches a house course on incarceration with the Duke Justice Project, and visits the Federal Medical Center in Bahama, NC, weekly.

Additionally, Lieber's work extends to several intervention and policy projects. He works with Prescriptions for Repair, a collaborative initiative designed to support Durham community members impacted by gun violence. He also writes about health policy and events relevant to justice involved individuals in global and domestic contexts. In the future, Lieber hopes to work in public service as a physician who understands the priorities of a correctional institution while simultaneously lobbying tirelessly to improve health care for people who are incarcerated.

Thomas Newberry came to Duke after spending four years working on a cattle ranch in Big Timber, Montana. His time out west spawned a love for agriculture and rural communities, which has become his area of interest. Newberry transferred from Montana State University where he studied agricultural economics and geography.

He is primarily interested in how using data to make management decisions can benefit small-holder farms and how better understanding human behavior can drive policies to increase rural resiliency. At Duke, Tom is studying public policy and will be interning with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture this summer.

Elliot Yoon is addressing gaps in medical care access and quality for people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Yoon works with the group Street Medicine, which functions to bring comprehensive, person-centered medical services directly to people wherever they live or feel most empowered, no matter the location. He has worked and conducted research within Street Medicine teams in Los Angeles to better understand people’s lived experiences and how dignifying support can be sustainably delivered beyond the walls of a clinic.

At Duke, Yoon is involved with the Closing the Gap Bass Connections Team that empowers patient populations with high rates of hypertension through self-management education, coordinates participant communications for the Root Causes Fresh Produce Program delivery service and is a volunteer advocate with the Community Empowerment Fund, facilitating connections with housing, employment, and social service resources for Durham community members. Yoon is from Placentia, California, and will graduate with a degree in psychology with a minor in medical sociology.