Benita Besa


Columbia, Maryland

Academic Interests

Computer Science & Economics

Fun Fact

I delivered a speech at the United States Capitol

Moving to the U.S from Congo in middle school ignited my interest in technology. I was captivated by the omnipresence of technology in American society, seamlessly woven into the fabric of our daily lives. In high school, seeking to further explore that interest, I was co enrolled at the Applications and Research Laboratory in my county, in the Cybersecurity and Computer Networking path. I immersed myself into this field by competing in national cybersecurity competitions, and acquiring certifications. However, as I learned more about all the possibilities in the tech industry, I discovered that my interests extended beyond a specific path; I was drawn to the broader mission of employing my technical skills to create positive societal changes.

During the summer before my senior year, I participated in a data science summer program, where I learned the fundamentals of Python programming, and was introduced to AI Ethics. I learned about algorithmic bias, which played a vital role in my life during my senior year of high school. I conducted my own research project on the topic, culminating in a 25 page research paper entitled “ The Impact of Automated Hiring Systems on Job Applicants: Addressing Algorithmic Bias in the Hiring Process”, where I explored how automated technologies used in the hiring process are creating gaps in the job market, and affecting job prospects for underrepresented minorities seeking employment. One of my goals here at Duke is to eventually get involved in similar research in a lab that would allow me to further explore this topic. 

Beyond my technological interests, I have a profound interest in economics. From a young age, I have been curious about how individuals make decisions based on diverse economic incentives, and how these decisions ripple from a local to a global scale. As Professor Nechyba often repeats, the definition of economics is “people doing the best they can given their circumstances.” I find it fascinating that we are able to quantify such a simple concept. Here at Duke, I am part of the Cyber Club and the National Society of Black Engineers.

What do you like about being a SPIRE Fellow?

What I love the most about Duke is the community. Duke students are the most hardworking, passionate, but also the friendliest, and funniest people I have ever met. I love that Duke’s rigorous curriculum  pushes students to reach their full academic potential, while simultaneously supporting each and every one of them by providing tons of resources, and allowing them to explore topics they are passionate about. 

Benita Besa
Benita Besa