Kassie Hamilton


Inverness, IL

Academic Interests

Potential major in neuroscience, minor in Spanish

Fun Fact

My arms are double jointed!

As a child, I was infinitely curious. I had a particular affinity for eavesdropping, and this did not stop at my family members. Not understanding the moral and legal issues (and I do hope you will forgive a curious, seven-year-old Kassie), I adopted a particular interest to listening in on my pediatrician mother’s conversations with her patients. Hearing about UTIs, ear infections, bilirubin levels, bronchitis, and so many other things I did not even begin to understand piqued my interest in the human body for the first time.

When I made the Varsity Dance Team my freshman year of high school, my teammates wasted no time before warning me about our team’s trainer, Mr. Richard, detailing his intensity, yelling, and harsh drills. What they couldn’t tell me however, was how much I would learn from Mr. Richard about kinesiology. Mr. Richard was a prize winning body-builder, and overall pretty scary guy, but he also studied and preached the importance of understanding the mechanics of movement in dance, and taught me how the orientation of the body or usage of particular muscle groups could prevent injury or make execution of a difficult skill easier. Although Mr. Richard made me nearly vomit from the difficulty of his exercises on multiple occasions, he also made me think about how science impacted my artistic expression in ways I had yet to consider.

My brother is five years older than me. His sophomore year of college, he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, broke his back in a skiing accident, and struggled with depression. Numerous times, my parents flew back and forth to Texas, where he was at school, to care for him. I wrestled with feeling powerless, unable to help my brother a thousand miles away. I reconciled my feelings of  powerlessness with knowledge, learning what I could about his various medical conditions. Once again, I found my interests piqued, however this time, I was particularly interested in the science surrounding my brother’s depression. My brother was not the only person in my life who I knew struggled with depression, and learning about how the chemical effects of depression impact brain function both helped me to better understand my loved ones as well as to be inspired to find ways to better help them.

What do you like about being a SPIRE Fellow?

I am African American, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Hawaiian, and Portuguese. In high school, not falling into any of the racially divided cliques that formed among my peers, I had a hard time finding community. My inability to fall into a group naturally forced me to create meaningful connections that were dependent on so much more than background or outward appearance, instead bonded together by shared work ethic, positive outlook, and supportiveness. The SPIRE Fellows Community appeals to me for the same reasons that the community I built in high school did. I know that in this community, I will not only be accepted, but challenged to be the best version of myself, and will be given the amazing opportunity to work alongside some of the most brilliant minds at Duke, and most importantly, be seen as an equal. I plan to excel at Duke, and I know that SPIRE will help me do that by connecting me to not only the academic resources, but a supportive community to support me through my academic journey.

Kassie Hamilton.
Kassie Hamilton