Story+ Project

Appalachian Stories: Young Voices from Madison County, North Carolina


[ OFF-SITE PROJECT: DIFFERENT PROGRAM DATES + STIPENDS ] Skylar Shelton is growing up in a community in Appalachian North Carolina called Laurel. She is being raised by her grandmother, who is an elderly woman struggling to make ends meet on social security. Skylar is heir to a rich culture, but also to the intergenerational poverty that has also been an Appalachian legacy. The Partnership for Appalachian Girls’ Education (‘PAGE’) was founded to help create ladders for opportunity for girls living in distressed rural communities such as Laurel. Its mission is to inspire and empower rural girls and young women through innovative education.

This Story+ project is focused on empowering girls in Appalachia through digital storytelling. Our project begins with team training in the process of digital storytelling on Duke Campus, then moves to Madison County, North Carolina to work with Appalachian girls. Our Duke team will reside on the campus of Mars Hill University but work with girls in grades 6-7 from across this rural county. Our goals are threefold: to provide team training in the process of digital storytelling; to facilitate the production of multi-media digital projects by Appalachian girls in grades 6-7; and to do post-production work that helps create a wider audience for the stories.

We are seeking students with interests in public humanities, education and empowerment for girls and young women, and digital projects or visual media (E.g., digital storytelling, oral histories, documentary work, photography). We also seek students with a strong interest in getting to know rural North Carolina people and communities, and working with rural people to create a truly collaborative project.
DIFFERENT PROGRAM DATES & FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS: The dates for this Story+ project is Wednesday, May 30 to Tuesday, July 31. Students will be based primarily at Madison County, NC, with 1 or 2 trips back to Duke to participate in broader Story+ activities. Special arrangements for housing, meals, transportation, etc. will be made for undergraduate participants at the field site. As a result, participants may receive a lower Story+ stipend (which is intended to offset housing and living expenses). Please check back soon for more details.

Essential Skills Required

  • Interest in public humanities;
  • Interest and/or previous experience in creating empowering education for girls;
  • Interest and/or previous experience/coursework in visual media and documentary work (E.g., digital storytelling, oral history, documentary work, photography, visual media);
  • Interest in getting to know rural North Carolina people and communities;
  • Commitment to working on site with rural people to create a truly collaborative project;
  • Coursework in any of the following would be helpful: Education; Public Policy; Visual and Media Studies; Documentary Studies; Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies; Psychology; Sociology.

Special supplementary application materials: None.

Project Sponsor(s): 

Deborah Hicks-Rogoff, Social Science Research Institute, Founding Director PAGE Institute

Photo by Mikalah Creasman, a young PAGE photographer.


  • Women/Girls
  • Visual Media
  • Public Humanities
  • Documentary
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Education

Skills required

  • Audio & Video Editing
  • Collaborative Work
  • Interviewing & Oral History
  • Website Design
  • Working with Primary Sources & Archival Research
  • Writing & Editing