Humans of Duke: Anya Parks

Name: Anya Parks

Year: 2021

Major: Evolutionary Anthropology

Minor: German

Hometown: Manassas, VA


1. What has been the best thing about your Duke experience so far? Worst?


  • The People. I was talking to my friends when I realized that there’s nothing special about Duke – not really. Not as a campus, or an institution. There are definitely benefits, but those mean nothing without the humans that populate Duke. My friends, my mentors, my acquaintances – all of them have taught me something. They are the core of my college experiences and I owe all my growth to them. 


  • Coming to Duke made me realize that my perfectionism was unrealistic and unsustainable. I used to say to myself – without irony – “no one can be perfect, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try!” My first D in chem forced me to face how ridiculous that concept was. There are more important things in life than being perfect. 


2. What's your favorite season, and why?

  • Fall! Coffee, tea, and sweaters. 


3. What are some of the things you do outside of class? 

  • I started practicing martial arts in middle school and picked it up again –this time Krav Maga – at Duke. There’s something therapeutic about punching your friends. 

  • Duke Vertices – I’ve always liked writing and science, so I’ve tried combining the two for my club, Duke Vertices. We do science journalism and publish undergraduate research. It’s a pretty good time. The people are special, too.

  •  This time of year, I’m usually chasing puppies! I’ve been a puppy volunteer and research assistant for the past three years. You get peed on a lot, but it’s actually worth it? Honestly, I miss those fluffy faces, as do all the volunteers. I miss the Hare team just as much. It’s a great community. 


5. What’s your strange addiction? 

  • YouTube Drama channels. Tana Mongeau is particularly interesting for whatever reason. 


6. Any advice for women just starting college?

  • Change is scary and college is almost entirely made of changes. You are going to be changing in ways you don’t expect. It might frighten you; the people in your life may not like it. And that’s okay. As long as that change is authentic to who you want to be, it’s okay to accept the ways you’re becoming different. 


7. How has this semester been different for you?

  • Besides the obvious? I’ve learned that it’s okay to not care about everything. I’ve always been told to do the hardest thing possible and give it 110%, regardless of what I want for myself. This year, I’ve learned how to save my energy for things that actually matter to me. I don’t have to prioritize those things simply because I think I “should.”  (Physics, I’m looking at you.) 


8. What do you think of classes being online?

  • I like going to class in my pajamas. 


9. Ideal number of people in a breakout room and why?

  • Four is enough people that there’s no pressure to talk but you can speak your mind if needed.  


10. Favorite time of day?

  • Morning – no one is awake, the sky is pale – a special, washed out color you can’t find any other time of day. There’s no rush to start anything. It’s just you, birds, the dog, and coffee. 


11. Favorite food?

  • It cycles in and out. I go through time periods where I really like a certain thing and pick it as my stress food. Recently, it’s been the veggie burger at Pitchforks with a ton of french fries. 


12. Favorite class you've taken at Duke and why?

  • Ancient Greek History with Josh Sosin & Black Lives Matter by Tsitsi Jaji. Both are completely outside of my chosen field, and have added a lot to my ability to engage with modern issues.

  • Dr. Sosin is an amazing story teller. Lecture was genuinely fascinating and helps you view modern life through the past. Also, there’s a lego you receive if you ask a particularly good question and we all really wanted that lego. 

  • Dr. Jaji crafted the BLM course to highlight the experiences of black people in history and literature. The readings really alter your perspective. We obviously deal with really sensitive, emotional topics, but Dr. Jaji facilitates a safe environment in which to do so.