OGA Spotlight: Rohini Thakkar

From India to Duke, Rohini Thakkar builds bridges across cultures.

-By Charles Givens

March 25, 2024

Rohini Thakkar’s journey has been one of crossing borders and embracing diverse cultures. From studying English literature and Japanese in India to coordinating global initiatives at Duke University, her passion for international education shines through.

“I was among the five students selected to receive a scholarship from the Japanese government for studying Japanese language and culture in Japan,” said Thakkar. “This study abroad experience significantly broadened my horizons and reshaped my worldview and led me to pursue a second master’s degree in international studies at NC State.”

Thakkar’s educational path mirrors her career path in terms of her commitment to fostering global understanding. After working as a finance analyst in the corporate sector, she transitioned to the field of international education, holding positions at NC State University and the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA). As Program Coordinator within the John Hope Franklin Center, she manages a wide range of programs and events for initiatives like the Africa Initiative, Duke India Initiative and the Concilium on Southern Africa.

A woman posing for a profile in front of Duke's campus.
Rohini Thakkar, Program Coordinator at the John Hope Franklin Center (Photo credit: Rohini Thakkar)

“These initiatives are not just programs; they represent bridges between communities, continents, and cultures,” said Thakkar.  “Witnessing the exchange of ideas, knowledge and experiences among students, faculty and experts from diverse backgrounds brings me immense joy. It’s the feeling of contributing to a world where diversity is celebrated, where borders are transcended, and where mutual respect and understanding reign supreme.”

Thakkar’s dedication extends beyond program coordination. She oversees funding for graduate students and faculty, facilitates interdisciplinary working groups on global issues and supports the visits of international diplomats and scholars.


On a personal level, Thakkar’s Indian heritage makes her work even more meaningful. She takes pride in connecting India and the Duke community. This passion, along with her impressive language skills (Kutchi, Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi, English and Japanese) and her love for dance, show just how multifaceted she is. Ultimately, Thakkar is dedicated to building a world where people understand and connect with each other better.

Thakkar encourages the Duke community to know more about and engage with the John Hope Franklin Center (JHFC). “The JHFC centers, initiatives and programs foster collaboration among scholars, students and practitioners from diverse fields and backgrounds,” said Thakkar. “The goal is to address complex challenges and promote understanding and cooperation across borders and cultures.”

Thakkar’s commitment to international education and intercultural understanding stands as a model for members of the Duke community.