Russell’s experience in the Peace Corps, her life-long ambition to study law, and her desire to return home to North Carolina brought her to Duke. She enters with a focus in policy and development, although she is excited to explore other areas during her time here.
Her interest in law stems from her belief that the legal system profoundly affects human interaction, even at the most basic level. As a Peace Corps volunteer, she spent 27 months in northern Togo, a small country in West Africa, living in the village of Mango.
She mainly worked on projects that boosted the profitability of small businesses and cooperatives, witnessing firsthand the challenges of business owners and residents dealing with a struggling legal system.
The experiences helped shape Russell’s interest in the law.
“I was able to refine my perspective on development by seeing how various ideologies play out practically, at the ground level,” Russell says. As a lawyer, she hopes to help people understand their legal rights and how those rights affect the ways in which they interact.
As she begins her career at Duke Law, Russell also embarks on another adventure with her husband, Michael. The couple recently adopted their 8-year-old daughter, Awa, from Togo and are looking forward to bringing her home to Durham this fall. As natives of Elon, N.C., Russell and her husband say they are especially pleased to return home to the support of family and friends and to join the Duke Law community.
“There are many inherent challenges of being a parent in law school,” Russell says, “but I know the support of my husband, family, and the Duke Law community will go a long way in helping me to be successful.”