When Judy Zhu ’17 graduated from Duke, she moved to Montreal, where she had a nice place to live and a job she liked. Yet remembering that time, she said, “It was so scary. I had no idea what I was doing.”
Speaking with her friends about their post-graduation experiences, Zhu realized that regardless of how things appeared, most recent grads were dealing with the same challenges she was—namely loneliness, uncertainty, and self-doubt. “That’s when I realized we need to destigmatize those feelings,” Zhu said. “It’s a myth that at some point in our life we’re just supposed to know the answers.”
While at Duke, Zhu had developed her entrepreneurship skillset through programs and resources including I&E courses, Melissa & Doug Entrepreneurs, the Innovation Co-Lab, and DUhatch. She’d founded Walla, an app that facilitated spontaneous hangouts among peers, which she sold following graduation.
Now Zhu felt the entrepreneurial itch again, calling her to address the problems facing recent graduates like herself. She partnered with Michelle Nie, a colleague she’d met in the education consultancy space, and reached out to her connections in Duke Clinical Psychology from her work on Walla.
They put her in touch with Savannah Erwin, a fifth-year Clinical Psychology PhD student whose initial focus on eating disorders evolved to explore how peer relationships can impact mental health issues. Erwin had previously collaborated on DukeLine—an anonymous support and referral textline by Duke students, for Duke students—and she was eager to lend her expertise to Zhu’s new project.