Design Your Future

My Younger Self: Learning for Life and Career Success

Students take self-paced Coursera Techincal Skill Specializations.

Schedule: Self-paced with two required live sessions (opening and closing) and optional office hours
Delivery Method: Synchronous and Asynchronous 
Credential: This course earns a Practical Oriented Experience (POE) transcript notation.
Team Lead: Katelyn Donnelly, Matthew Rascoff

To accomplish big goals, you need to be a lifelong learner. You need to build relationships. Take intellectual risks. Build up a diverse skill set. And, most importantly, you will need to know and trust yourself.

This Winter Breakaway is designed to get you started on a journey of independent learning that you direct. Students will be able to pick a specialized online, self-paced course on Coursera for Duke to complete during the two weeks of the session. You will have access to the full Coursera catalog, with learning options from Java Programming to Roman Art to the Science of Well Being

This can be a solo exploration or include a group-learning component with a pod. This course should complement what you study as a Duke student and push you to develop a new skill or pursue an interest with the freedom that comes from no grades, no curve, no assigned class time. You are accountable only to yourself and your pod. 

Everyone will participate in a live kickoff session on Zoom and a closing session. We will host optional guest office hours with Duke alums at various career stages, reflecting on what they have learned, what they wished they knew at Duke, and how they are thinking about the future.  

A small number of assignments will support your thinking about who you are, where you are going, and what skills, relationships, and experiences you will need to get there. 

Katelyn Donnelly

Katelyn Donnelly is the founder of Avalanche VC, a fund that invests in startups catalyzing category-level change. Previously, she was the founder and Managing Director of Pearson Ventures, a $65M venture fund that globally invests in education technology companies. Katelyn also co-founded Delivery Associates, a consulting and technology firm that drives public sector implementation in over 40 countries. 

She is also a Kauffman Fellow and was named to the corporate venturing power list, Forbes 30 under 30, and a rising star at the women’s economic forum. Katelyn is an alum of McKinsey in San Francisco and New York. She graduated from Duke University with high distinction in economics and serves on Duke’s Learning Innovation Committee. Read more at and subscribe to her weekly newsletter at

Matthew Rascoff

Matthew Rascoff is the Associate Vice Provost for Digital Education and Innovation at Duke University. He was previously Vice President and founder of the Office of Learning Technology & Innovation for the University of North Carolina system, where he worked from 2014-17.

In 2012-13, Matthew launched JSTOR’s first international office in Berlin, where he was also a Fellow of the Bertelsmann Foundation and a strategic advisor to the Robert Bosch Foundation. He previously led product management teams at Wireless Generation, an education technology company (acquired by News Corporation in 2010 and renamed Amplify). In 2011, he built and launched Wireless Generation’s product development center in Durham, North Carolina.

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