Summer 2022 ASCEND Coaches

The coaches are the stars of the ASCEND program! They are older Duke students who know what it takes to succeed at Duke and are eager to share their knowledge. Each coach leads a small team of incoming students and guides them through the program.  They are available to answer any questions about STEM at Duke or campus life. So, ask away! 

Emily Da Cruz, '24

Emily Da Cruz is a rising senior at Duke, majoring in Neuroscience with minors in Chemistry and Spanish on the pre-med track. Originally from New Jersey, she is a first-generation college student involved with various activities on campus including pediatric neurology research, GANO (ESL tutoring for Latinx Durham community members), Neuroscience Major’s Union, the American Medical Women’s Association, and tour guiding. In her free time, she enjoys going to the gym, cooking/baking, and spending times with friends. After graduating, she plans to take a gap year, working in a clinical or research setting before going to medical school.

Sawyer Grovel '24

Sawyer Grovogel is from Green Bay, Wisconsin originally, but moved to Knoxville, Tennessee this past semester. He is a rising Junior majoring in Chemistry on a premed track. He is a member of the Duke Innovation studio, Pancakes for Parkinsons, Blue Devils Vs. Cancer, and works with Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention and Education. Sawyer is a big sports fan and also enjoys rock climbing and hanging out with friends.

Erica Ham '24

Erica is a Duke Kunshan University student graduating in 2024, but due to COVID she has been spending the past 2 years of her college experience at Duke! She loves nature, and her major is Environmental science/Biogeochemistry. Some of her hobbies include volleyball and clarinet; she is in the Duke University Marching Band and recently played in the pit orchestra for a musical produced by Duke’s Hoof’n’Horn. Please reach out to Erica if you’d like to know more about music, sports, studies, and really anything at Duke!

Daisja Honorable '24

Daisja Honorable is a rising junior in the 2022-2023 school year. She is majoring in Neuroscience on the pre-med track with minors in Chemistry and Spanish. She is from outside of Chicago, IL and has two dogs at home that she loves spending time with. Daisja loves all things science-related, but some of her other interests include music and baking. She is involved with a couple of mentoring programs here at Duke, and is one of the co-directors for the Project Lead program for incoming first-year students.

Kevin Jiang '24

Kevin is a junior from Cleveland, OH majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Spanish Studies. His primary STEM interests lie in data science, network science, and optimization, and he is interning in an analytics group within a Charlotte, NC-area financial services company this summer. On campus, Kevin is actively involved in Duke Impact Investing Group, the Duke Chronicle’s business team, Quizbowl, the Writing Studio, and as a Resident Assistant on West Campus.

Emily Kang '23

Emily Kang is a rising senior majoring in Biology with interests in medical sociology and gene therapy research. Outside of academics, she enjoys spending her free time with film photography and tutoring. Ask Emily about life outside the campus, especially for food and fun activities! She loves exploring the Triangle area (Durham, Chapel Hill, Raleigh).

Andrew Lui '23

Andrew Liu is a rising senior from Houston, TX majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science and minoring in Chemistry. Outside of class, but still in the academic sphere, he conducts research in materials for cleaner energy and serves as a TA for Computer Architecture (Andrew loves to teach!). Elsewhere on campus, he is involved in Duke Conservation Tech, whose mission is to apply the skills developed in the classroom to identify conservation problems, create technical solutions, and understand their impact; Duke Health and STEM Connect, where he strives to inspire students from Durham Public Schools (DPS) and engage them in learning STEM; and Duke ASL, where he learns ASL and about the Deaf community and its culture. When Andrew is not stressed about endless assignments, he enjoys spending time with friends, playing sports, and listening to/playing music!

Megan Lui '23

Megan Liu is a rising senior and NC native pursuing a major in Evolutionary Anthropology (Human Biology concentration) and minors in Biology and Chemistry. She conducts research in the Gibert and Drea labs, and has worked as a teaching assistant and peer mentor for Organic Chemistry I and Intro to Biostatistics. Megan is beyond excited to work with ASCEND!

Katie Newton '24

Katie is a rising Junior from Denver, Colorado studying Biology. She has been involved with DukeLIFE, Project WILD, Duke QuestBridge chapter, Club Swim, research with faculty, and SLGs on campus, and she has loved Duke so far! Katie plans to become a marine mammal trainer in the future, with the goals of rehabilitation, entertainment, and general care.

Lisa Zhao '23

Lisa Zhao is a rising senior. She majors in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology and minors in Chemistry on the pre-med track. Lisa is happy to talk about either STEM or humanities at Duke!

Lucy Zhang '24

Lucy Zhang is a rising junior in Biomedical Engineering who is passionate about Biotechnology. At Duke, she works on biomaterial research for stroke recovery and is also the lead for a project to develop algae-based batteries. Outside of school, she enjoys cooking and crochet.