2019 Distinguished Alumni

The Distinguished Alumni Awards recognize exceptional leaders and contributing citizens who are alumni of the Duke University Talent Identification Program. Candidates are selected based on achievements in their field. Visit the Distinguished Alumni Award page to see a list of past recipients.

Distinguished Alumni Award 

Adriane Lentz-Smith

Adriane Lentz-Smith is an accomplished author and associate professor of history at Duke University. She earned a PhD from Yale University in 2005. As an author, her interests lie in African American history, twentieth-century United States History, and world history. Her 2009 book, Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I, looks at the black freedom struggle in the World War I years, focusing on manhood, citizenship, and global encounters. Lentz-Smith’s work has been featured in many academic journals, including American Quarterly and Oregon Historical Quarterly.

Throughout her career, Lentz-Smith has spoken at various conferences and has appeared on C-Span as an expert on WWI and African-American history. She recently collaborated on two studies entitled Voting Rights in the United States and Challenging the Master Narrative of the Civil Rights Movement. In 2005, Lentz-Smith earned a Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowship from the University of North Carolina. And in 2010, she was awarded the Honor Book Award by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. 

TIP courses: German I, 1987. American History: Fads and Fading Dreams, 1988. European History, 1989. People and Power, 1990.


Matt Wisdom  

Matt Wisdom is CEO of TurboSquid, a company he co-founded in 2000 that allows artists free access to publish and sell digital creations on the internet. TurboSquid is now the world’s leading seller of 3D models used in feature films, computer games, architecture, and defense. Wisdom graduated from Brown University in 1994 with a personal emphasis on software engineering.  

He has earned numerous awards and honors, including the Louisiana Governor’s Office “Technology Leader of the Year” and Junior Achievement’s “Business Hall of Fame.” He is also a member of the 2014 Class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute. Wisdom serves as New Orleans Startup Fund Board Chairman, Tricentennial Racial Reconciliation Committee Co-chairman, and RosaMary Foundation Trustee. In 2005, he co-authored legislation for the Digital Interactive Media incentives for the state of Louisiana, widely cited as significantly contributing to the city’s entrepreneurial renaissance. More recently, he co-chaired New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s transition team in 2018. 

TIP courses: Precalculus Mathematics, 1985. Russian I & Precalculus Math, 1986.


Sue Yom  

Sue Yom is a Professor of Clinical Radiation Oncology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Dr. Yom is also a radiation oncologist who specializes in the treatment of head and neck, skin and thoracic cancers. She studied at Rice University, where she earned an undergraduate degree in French, and the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a PhD in English and a Medical Doctorate.  

Dr. Yom is a member of the American Board of Radiology, the American Society for Radiation Oncology, and the Journal of Radiation Oncology Editorial Board. She has been honored with numerous awards throughout her career, including Best Doctors in America listings, the Young Investigator Award (presented by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Foundation), and the Brachytherapy Fellowship (presented by the American Brachytherapy Society). At UCSF, Dr. Yom supervises a number of medical studies and clinical trials aimed at finding novel and more effective forms of therapy for cancer patients.

TIP courses: Precalculus Mathematics, 1983. French I & French II, 1984.


Early Achievement Award 


Joni Deutsch  

Joni Deutsch is Podcast Manager for WFAE, an NPR news source in Charlotte, NC. She studied at West Virginia University before earning a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication from American University.  

Deutsch began her professional career with WLUR 91.5FM in Lexington, Virginia before transitioning to West Virginia Public Broadcasting, where she created and hosted two podcasts. In 2015, Deutsch became assistant producer for NPR Music’s program “Mountain Stage.” A year later, she became the program’s host, making her the youngest host of a nationally syndicated public radio program at the age of 24. In 2018, Deutsch launched “She Says,” WFAE’s first investigative podcast about a sexual assault case in Mecklenburg County, which hit the Top 200 on Apple Podcasts and was recognized by the Online Journalism Awards for “Excellence in Audio Digital Storytelling.”  

Deutsch’s other awards and honors include West Virginia State Journal’s “40 under 40,” the Online Journalism Association’s “Women’s Leadership Accelerator,” and the Charlotte Agenda’s “30 under 30.” 

TIP courses: Molecules, Proteins, and Genes, 2008 (eStudies). The Institute of Clinical Psychology, 2009 (Field Studies).