Olivia Shim


Rochester, New York

Academic Interests

Psychology & Neuroscience

Fun Fact

I like to watch movies commentaries and analyze films in my free time

In high school, I was a part of the Cheryl Speranza Leadership Institute, which offered high-achieving young women of color a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to Our Lady of Mercy High School. In this institute, we participated in various STEM-related summer programs, such as the STEP Program at the University of Rochester and a virtual contact tracing program during the pandemic. I was a part of the Black Student Union and the Agape Latte Club, where faculty shared their faith stories to encourage young Catholic and Christian believers. Also, I was very involved in my church, as I was a part of my church’s worship dance group for eight years and worked as a teaching assistant for the children’s church for four years. I participated in various volunteer opportunities like sorting non-perishable items at Foodlink, donating and storing 29 gently used coats to a homeless shelter called Family Promise of Greater Rochester, and helping with the backpack giveaway at my church. To continue my volunteering pursuits, I chose Project BUILD as my orientation group, in which we did volunteer work in the Durham community. I took AP Psychology in high school and fell in love with psychology, especially the Biological Basis of Behavior unit. This experience made me want to focus on psychology and explore neuroscience in college. My goals are to determine if I would like to pursue psychology, neuroscience, or both in my future and what areas of those fields I would like to make into a career.

What do you like about being a SPIRE Fellow?

I love the community at Duke because although I am surrounded by some of the brightest minds in the world, everyone is down-to-earth and easy to talk to. There is a place for everyone who joins the Duke community, and there are endless opportunities to socialize to help find one’s social circle throughout the year. Also, the professors are willing to assist their students if they are struggling and converse with students through the office hours and the FLUNCH program, in which students take faculty out to lunch on Duke’s dime! This creates an excellent opportunity to build relationships with your professors, especially if you are taking an introductory course with over 100 students. 

Olivia Shim
Olivia Shim