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Student Teaches Film at Duke Summer Camp

Student blog by Hannah Mullen, film studies, creative writing and psychology major


When I say that I worked for a summer camp over this summer, most people wouldn’t assume that I was teaching in a Duke University classroom. Summer camp, for most people is a nostalgic experience that often defines a big part of one’s childhood: sitting around a campfire, swimming in a lake, doing outdoorsy things. It’s one of the great joys of being a kid. But Duke TIP isn’t quite like most summer camps.

The Duke Talent Identification Program is a summer program offered to gifted students who were invited to take the ACT or SAT in 7th grade. The goal of the program itself is to give them a preview of the “college experience” as a high school student. Here, they use real university facilities: dorms, dining halls, classrooms, etc. For three weeks, each student takes a college-level introductory course (often taught by real college professors) for six days a week and six hours a day; topics of each class span across all fields of study, whether it’s math, science, fine arts or social sciences. The program is also balanced with a residential program where the kids spend their time after class doing fun team-building activities, which gives Duke TIP more of a “summer camp” atmosphere.

This summer, I worked for Duke TIP as a Teaching Assistant. This means that I helped a college professor teach and run Duke TIP class. We were there for two months (two three-week sessions) teaching film classes. The first being about screenwriting and the second diving more into film production.

Hannah with class

Being able to work with gifted students and help teach them about my field of study was a really special thing. I was able to watch them grow in their passions and witnessed the sheer creativity they possessed when they produced any of their multiple projects. When you’re around these students for long enough, you can really tell that not only you’re making an impact on them, but also they’re making an impact on you. It’s truly an unforgettable experience for everyone involved.

Spending two months of this summer in the middle of North Carolina was really one of the best summers I’ve ever had, and I can’t wait to see what awaits the future.