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Alumna Sara Duke Grey Continues to Care & Advocate for Survivors

In 2016, Sara Duke Grey (CLAS 2011) was kind enough to participate in the below Q&A in which she shared some thoughts from her early career experiences in providing primary care for women. Since then, she's continued to move forward in her life and work. We were thrilled to hear from Sara this month and proud to be part of the UVA foundation on which she continues to build a rewarding career and to make a difference for women in her community. In Sara's update, she described caring for a patient who recently sought her out specifically because her experience includes working on gender-violence prevention and response here. The patient needed to resume important health screenings that she had been avoiding due to her history of experiencing gender-based violence. Sara reached out to us to say, 

"It was a humbling experience and made it that much more important to me to make sure others have the chance to benefit from all the services and experiences the Women's Center has to offer."

We are fortunate to work every day with students and colleagues like Sara. The stories and support we receive from them keep us strong in our work year after year. 


When did you attend UVA? What did you study?

I was at UVA from Fall 2007 through Spring 2011. I got a bachelors of arts in sociology and completed pre-med and pre-nursing science courses.

What work did you do with the Women’s Center?

I was an intern with Claire Kaplan in the Sexual and Domestic Violence Services (Now Gender Violence and Social Change) internship for 2 years. I was also a member and the President of SAFE throughout my time at UVA so we did all sorts of education and different awareness based projects in the UVA community.

What are you doing now?

After going to UVA I headed to Vanderbilt School of Nursing and got my masters in nursing. So now I am a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. With my advanced degree I work at Planned Parenthood of Metro Washington as a nurse practitioner. I also work as a labor and delivery nurse at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, MD. I also am now married to a fellow UVA alumni, John Grey. He graduated from the Curry School in 2011, and we live in Alexandria, VA, where he is an elementary school special education teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools.

What was your very first job and what’s something you learned from it?

The first job I ever, ever had was as a nursing assistant at a pediatric doctors office. There I learned/earned a passion for helping people and medical care. My first job out of UVA was as a labor and delivery nurse at Holy Cross. I learned that work is what you make it and if you come every day with a good attitude, ready to work hard, you won’t feel like you’re working at all. It will also pay off - within 2.5 years of working at Holy Cross I have been trained as a charge nurse and given positions of extra responsibility.

What’s something you learned in college that turned out to be useful later, in some way you didn’t expect?

UVA teaches you a good balance of work and play. It has been useful in the “real world” because I’ve had an easier time preventing getting burned out or stressed. I work night shift at the hospital and RN work full time is 3x 12hr shifts, so on paper it’s not too challenging; however, the work is tough so finding ways to relax is key. Charlottesville can also give you a good appreciation of a nice glass of wine and view, which is much more useful than you might think!

What was your favorite memory from working with the Women’s Center?

While I was working at the Women’s Center Vice President Joe Biden celebrated the 16th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act. Some of the UVA interns and people involved in Women’s Center activities were invited to the reception for it at the Naval Observatory (VPs house) and it was an amazing day and celebration to take part in.

What do you miss most about Charlottesville?

Being so close to friends. Once you graduate everyone makes their own waves and follows their own paths so sometimes it is hard to stay in touch. It was so much more fun when you lived in a house with 9 of your friends, seeing them everyday versus planning weekends together in different cities a couple times a year. Once everyone has a job and starts to get married or have babies impulsive get-togethers or beers after the library just doesn’t happen as freely.

Looking back, what advice would you give your former, intern-self?

Take more classes in Women’s Studies…I took a lot of very challenging science classes that I didn’t end up using when I could have been working on expanding my thinking and writing. Everything will turn out right in the end, and I wish I had relaxed and taken some courses for my own enjoyment instead of worrying about the next step.