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Duke Program Hosts Third B-CU Student

Deborah Rountree

Deborah Rountree has nearly completed the first semester of her senior year; however she still often finds herself looking back on the hard work she put just a few months ago while many students were home for the summer.  After completing her junior year at B-CU, she headed to the campus of Duke University in Durham, N.C., to participate in the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute – a rigorous academic program for political science majors interested in pursuing graduate studies in the field. 

Only 20 students from across the country are selected each year for the prestigious program, which is an annual summer institute co-sponsored by Duke and funded by the National Science Foundation and the American Political Science Association.

Rountree is the third B-CU student selected in the last three years, following in the footsteps of recent alums Camille Burge ('07), who encouraged Rountree to apply, and Charles Daniels ('08).   Other students participating this year hailed from the University of Texas, Barnard College, Penn State, and Washington University in St. Louis.

For five weeks, Rountree and her fellow Ralph Bunche scholars immersed themselves in a simulated graduate school experience.  They took graduate-level courses, attended weekly seminars, and wrote a 20-page research paper.  To prepare themselves for the graduate school admissions process, the students took practice Graduate Record Exams – the standardized test required by many graduate programs.

Describing the experience as "really intense," Rountree notes "it was like having my most difficult political science professor times 10!"  But, she credits her B-CU professors for helping her be well-prepared.  "Professors, particularly within my major, give extensive reading and writing assignments.  Even though I thought some of those assignments were ridiculously lengthy at the time, I have to admit that they were a big help with my experience with Ralph Bunche."

Named for the 1950 Nobel peace prize winner, the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute encourages students from underrepresented groups to pursue graduate degrees.  The program helps students build skills needed for advanced study including writing, research, analytic thinking, and use of computer programs for statistical analysis.  Current issues in the field of political science are addressed through coursework, lectures and informal discussions with faculty and visiting political scientists.

Rountree found her class on race in politics to be particularly thought-provoking.  "Before I began that class, I thought I pretty much knew the basis of what race was and how it plays a part within society . . . . but at Ralph Bunche, we thought outside the box on the concept of race, broke the concept into sections and analyzed each part.  It was overwhelming, but the class taught me how to look at the 'big picture.'"

Back at B-CU for her senior year, Rountree has what she calls a "new-found confidence" as she completes her B-CU degree and looks ahead to going to law school.  "I [feel] that I made it through such a tough program, I [can] make it through anything, especially anything academic.  The intensity of the level of writing and reading has eliminated my fear of being able to succeed doing some of the same intense levels in law school."

A note on other recent B-CU "Bunchees": Camille Burge (B-CU '07) is pursuing a doctorate in political science at Emory University. Charles Daniels (B-CU '08) is applying to the University of New Mexico's Ph.D. program, where he hopes to pursue research in healthcare disparities.

Office of Public Relations

Liz Poston

PH: 386-481-2990

About Bethune Cookman University:

Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.  B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000.  For more information, visit

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