Sachelle Ford, Ph.D., Director

Dr. Sachelle Ford

Sachelle Ford, who grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, directs DukeLIFE (Lower Income, First-Generation Engagement) and the David M. Rubenstein Scholars Program, the university’s foremost initiatives for supporting 1G/LI undergraduates. Prior to assuming this position, Sachelle served as interim director at the African American Culture Center at N.C. State University, where she focused on faculty engagement and increasing students’ participation in interdisciplinary research on the African Diaspora. Sachelle has actually returned to Duke, originally serving as lecturing fellow of Duke University’s Thompson Writing Program from 2014-2018. Her courses examined the Black Power movement, African diaspora theory, Caribbean literature and contemporary African American literature. She holds a PhD in English from Brown University and a BA in English from Emory University, where she was a first-generation, low-income undergraduate student.

Office Hours: Tuesdays, 3-5PM

Nanii Ellis, Assistant Director

Janausia Ellis, “Nanii,” was born and raised in New York. Nanii serves as the Assistant Director of DukeLIFE. She obtained her BA in Speech Communication with a minor in Psychology from Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus where she was a first-generation student. Nanii found her way to North Carolina, earning her MA in Student Affairs Administration with a concentration in College Student Development from Appalachian State University. Prior to her position in DukeLIFE, she served as the Director of Academic Support Programs at Queens University of Charlotte, serving students from historically underserved backgrounds. In this role, she also directed programs such as peer tutoring and supplemental instruction. While she has experience in multiple functional areas at different institutions, her passion has always been working with historically underserved populations. In her free time she enjoys working out, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. 

Beverly Rudolph, Ed.D., Administrative Coordinator for 1GLI Enrollment

Beverly Rudolph is a native North Carolinian. She transitioned into higher education after a career in K-12 education. Most recently, she served as the principal of Carrboro High School. Beverly’s record of bold equity work and her knowledge of public education equips her well to lead DukeLIFE’s efforts in recruiting and enrolling undergraduates from lower-income backgrounds. Beverly earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from UNC Asheville, a Masters of School Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill, and her Ed.D. in School Administration and Supervision from the University of Virginia. As a first-generation, limited-income college student herself, she became an educator to clear the way for others to reach their own educational goals, especially the traditionally marginalized. In her free time, she enjoys watching college sporting events, Broadway shows, her family, friends, and two dogs.

Jaylah Stewart, Senior Program Coordinator

Jaylah Stewart was born and raised in Durham, NC. She obtained her BA in English with a concentration in Teacher Education from North Carolina State University. She returned to NC State to earn an M.Ed in Higher Education Administration. While pursuing her studies, Jaylah had the opportunity to gain experience at different institutions and within various roles, including residence life, student conduct, university activities, and student programs. She is very passionate about helping students cultivate a sense of belonging on campus, especially underrepresented student groups. 

Shawn Svoboda-Barber, Staff Specialist

Shawn was born and raised in Topeka, Kansas. He attended Washburn University where he earned a BA in Physical Education, and pursued a career in corporate health and wellness. After trying his hand at graphic arts, photography, teaching, and youth ministry he became a stay-at-home parent for his two children. Now that they have grown into teenagers Shawn is using his varied talents to assist DukeLIFE and OUSF as a staff specialist.