Student Spotlight: Cordelia Hume

Headshot of Cordelia Hume

This week's student spotlight featured Cordelia Hume, a Carolina native who grew up in Mebane, NC, a town only about an hour from Duke University. Growing up in a small town, Hume values universities with ample research opportunities and resources for students. A diverse school with many community outreach programs is also high on Hume’s list. She was not entirely sure how she would combine her diverse interests into a vision for her future, but she was confident that an education at Duke would help her achieve that.

Cordelia Hume is a B.N. Duke Scholar, a scholarship named in honor of Benjamin N. Duke, which recognizes students who excel academically, engage their communities, and aspire to become leaders at Duke and beyond. Majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Biology and Chemistry, Hume is part of the 2024 Graduation with Distinction cohort. Her thesis, titled “Investigating a potential mechanism for the progression of Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood: Age-dependent Na+/K+-ATPase activity and behavioral symptoms in Mashl+/- (Atp1a3Mashl/+) mice,” was successfully defended on April 19th, 2024. Her research project investigates a potential mechanism behind the progressive nature of the neurological disease Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood in the Mikati Lab. Hume joined the Mikati Lab due to her interest in translational research related to epilepsy. She has been with the Mikati lab since 2022.

When asked why she chose to major in Neuroscience, Hume shared that she has always been interested in how the world works and how different people think about the world. However, what escalated a budding curiosity in biology to an interest in neuroscience was her personal experience with brain surgery in high school. Neuroscience 101 in her freshman year at Duke cemented her love for the field. After graduation, Hume will be working as a researcher for two years in the Post Baccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) at the National Institute of Health (NIH), specifically at the National Institute for Mental Health. Post Baccalaureate IRTA is a highly competitive program open to recently graduated college students in healthcare and STEM fields. After completing the program, Hume plans to apply to medical and/or graduate school.

While not in academic mode, Hume enjoys unwinding by spending time with friends, running, hiking, cooking, and knitting or crocheting. As an individual who understands the importance of harmonious community, Hume is actively engaged in giving back to her community. Hume is passionate about equitable gender representation in education and climate justice, which is reflected through her volunteer work. She advises the Triangle Nonprofit Volunteer and Leadership Center Student Action Board of Durham, a group of high school students who plan and lead service projects. She also volunteers at the Duke Arts and Health Department in Duke University Hospital as a patient guide and advocate. Her passion for giving back does not stop at the surrounding communities but stretches across continents, to Africa. Hume leads the Duke WISER club, a club that supports a high school for girls in Muruhu Bay, Kenya. WISER stands for Duke the Women’s Institute for Secondary Education and Research, a community development organization focusing on the social empowerment of underprivileged girls through education and health.

On Sunday, May 12th, 2024, Cordelia Hume joined her fellow 2024 graduates on stage to celebrate their successful completion of their bachelor’s degrees. When asked to share wisdom for the incoming freshman class, Hume stressed the importance of being organized and following your true passions, not just what you think you’re expected to be doing. It’s important to be open-minded, flexible, and adaptable because sometimes you won’t have all the information to make a decision or the circumstances are out of your control. As long as you have some idea of a goal in mind to work towards and don’t put off your required classes until your last semester, you will succeed.