This year’s student commencement speakers will be Trinity senior Kyle-Brandon “KB” Denis and M.D./Ph.D. candidate Dylan Eiger. They will deliver welcome remarks at the university-wide ceremony at 9.a.m. Sunday, May 14, in Wallace Wade Stadium.
Denis and Eiger were chosen from among more than 350 nominees. The selection committee reviewed nominations for students who have facilitated a welcoming community for their peers through seen and unseen leadership roles, impacted the greater Durham area through engagement with local schools and organizations, conducted groundbreaking research, and collaborated on initiatives that will benefit the Duke community for years to come.
In addition to the two students, Erika Weinthal, professor of environmental policy and public policy and chair of the Academic Council, will deliver welcoming remarks at the ceremony on behalf of the faculty.
Denis, who is graduating with majors in English and political science, was nominated as “someone who encourages, inspires, and uplifts.” Noting the remarkable effect he has had on the Duke community — and specifically Duke’s Black community — one nominator recalled, “When I first came to Duke… it was KB that ushered me in and made me feel safe.”
Denis’ English honors thesis, "Bastards & Butterflies: Theorizing the Hip-Hop Epic During the Woke Era," earned him Highest Distinction, the department’s Most Original Thesis Award, and a nomination for the Bascom Headen Palmer Literary Prize. During his time as Duke, he performed with Hoof ‘N’ Horn, United in Praise, and Speak of the Devil. He also held executive board positions in Black Student Alliance, Black Men’s Union, and the Alpha Alpha Chi Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. After graduation, he will join Billboard as a staff writer.
Eiger, who is graduating from the School of Medicine with a combined M.D. and Ph.D., was nominated for his research contributions and his efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in his field. “Dylan is simply one of the most extraordinarily effective students and human beings whom we have had the privilege to educate,” one of his nominators wrote.
A “triple Dukie” who received his B.A. in chemistry from Duke in 2016, Eiger has mentored undergraduates interested in careers as physician-scientists. While completing his Ph.D. in the Department of Biochemistry, Eiger focused his research on G protein-coupled receptors, the target of 33% of all drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Following graduation, Eiger will begin his Internal Medicine Residency training at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston.