Meet the Class of 2017 - Carmen Duran

2017 Most Valuable Student Recipient
University of Pennsylvania —
Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and Modern Middle Eastern Studies Major,
Legal Studies and History Minor
Sponsored by Newton, N.C., Lodge No. 2042

To persevere means to do something despite difficulty or delay to achieve success. Elks scholars understand that there’s no obstacle big enough to get between them and their best future.


Carmen Duran was born in a small, rural town in North Carolina. Population: 3,000. Due to her family dynamic, Carmen was forced to grow up fiercely independent. As soon as she could, Carmen balanced school and extra-curricular activities with a part-time job to provide financial support for her family.

Despite personal challenges, Carmen seized every academic and professional opportunity that came her way. She became the president of the National Honor Society at her school, the co-founder of Community of Students, a nonprofit that offers learning opportunities for local students, and the designer and creator of a 3D-printed prosthetic hand, which was later donated to a foundation that gives prostheses to children.

Carmen is attending the University of Pennsylvania to major in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and Modern Middle Eastern Studies, and minor in Legal Studies and History. Carmen is the first person in her family to attend a four-year university, and she plans to attend law school and eventually become involved in politics.

Carmen has a clear vision of who she wants to be and how she’s going to get there—with a lot of hard work and determination.

In addition to her high school academic accomplishments, Carmen completed a year-long research projects about mind-matter interaction. She was mentored by Dr. Roger Nelson and Dr. Brenda Dunne who are both members of the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research program at Princeton University.


With every success, Carmen finds a way to give back to her community. After her research project was completed, she donated new physics technology to her high school. Students will be able to use it in the classroom for years to come.

Carmen looks forward to utilizing her experiences to continue to create a better future for herself, her family and the world.

“Being an Elks scholar means being an agent of change and it means empowering those around you to be agents of change, too,” says Carmen. “Beyond all, being an Elks scholar means being a world-changer, no matter where you are, or what you’re going through.”

For 2017-18, the Elks National Foundation allocated $2.89 million to fund the Most Valuable Student scholarship program, which includes 500 four-year scholarships ranging from $4,000 to $50,000, which Carmen Duran is the recipient of. For more information about the Most Valuable Student scholarship program, including eligibility and deadlines, visit

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