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The many roads to Duke: Rebecca Young

Tuesday, March 10, 2020
By Stephen Schramm
Rebecca Young

An avid camper, Rebecca Young loved that living in Davis, California, had her a short drive from Yosemite National Park, redwood forests and the Sierra Nevadas. As a vegetarian, she treasured California’s year-round availability of fresh produce.

But after a decade, she and her husband, Renny, knew that California’s high cost of living meant their future would likely unfold elsewhere.

“For us, the California dream was over, we’d been looking to leave for a long time,” said Young, who joined the Duke Pediatrics Division of Infectious Diseases as a biostatistician in 2018.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, North Carolina added 112,820 people in 2018 – including the Youngs – ranking behind Texas, Florida, California and Arizona in the number of new residents. A strong job market is a prime driver of the influx.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce projects that, by 2026, the state will add around 389,000 new jobs.

“With the quality of life, the type of jobs and the type of incomes people can earn, it’s not hard to get anyone in the world to move here,” said North Carolina Secretary of Commerce Anthony Copeland. “And anybody would be happy to move here and be associated with a place like Duke.”

Denise Motley, executive director of Duke Human Resources Recruitment, Staffing and the Career Resource Center, said that Duke’s reputation as a world-class research university and health system coupled with robust employee benefits, are major factors in attracting top talent. And Motley, who moved here from Pennsylvania, said that North Carolina is a strong selling point.

“North Carolina has so much to offer,” Motley said. “If applicants prefer city life, they can get that feel here. For those who like a more rural environment, that can be realized here, as well. I believe this rich geographic diversity is another reason we successfully attract applicants from all over the United States.”

The high cost of living in California was a major factor in Rebecca Young's decision to come to Duke, where she's a biostatistician.

After two years in North Carolina, Rebecca Young, 32, has found plenty to appreciate about her new home.

She enjoys working with Duke’s accomplished faculty members, fellows, residents and medical students, showing them how math and coding fuel research breakthroughs.

A more affordable housing market has put home ownership within reach for her. Young’s mother, who moved to Asheville from Pennsylvania in 2018, is close by, and Young has made a network of friends in Durham.

“This is where we’re planning on being long-term,” said Young, who’s explored North Carolina’s wine country and Outer Banks. “I would never have thought I’d be a North Carolinian. But I like it a lot.”