Duda Formoso ’26

A trailblazing First-Gen student, digital influencer Duda Formoso ’26 turned trials into transformation.

Duda Formoso

photo by Isabella Bastos '26

Two years ago on a 90-degree autumn day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Duda Formoso ’26 searched for U.S. colleges and landed on Ithaca College’s website. An accomplished actress, ballerina, and digital influencer, the dynamic high school senior wanted to find a place with a reputation for both the arts and communications.

But it was Ithaca’s natural beauty—and the changing seasons—that grabbed her attention first. “I saw waterfalls, and I thought, That’s so cool,” says Duda, who will be the first in her family to graduate from a U.S. college. Minutes later, as she scrolled through sweeping lake views and bright autumn foliage, she saw IC’s snow-covered campus. “There was so much snow!” she laughs. “I chose Ithaca because I wanted to have a totally different experience.”

Duda arrived in Ithaca on a Thursday night—a week after classes began. The campus seemed huge to her, but that didn’t stop her from plugging herself into every opportunity she could. She started a new job at the Center for IDEAS (now the BIPOC Unity Center), worked with the college’s YouTube content creation team, and managed a full course load. She especially loved meeting new people and going to events. But, while she relished every new experience, she also felt overwhelmed.

“I was ‘the girl from the study lounge.’”

“I feel like I lived an entire year in a semester,” says Duda, who started out in journalism before shifting her major to advertising, public relations, and marketing communications. To catch up after her late arrival to campus, and adapt to a new educational setting, she studied nonstop. “It was very different from the experiences I had in public school in Brazil, and I felt so behind because everyone had been here before me. I forgot that I needed to sleep and eat well, things like that. I didn’t have a life. I just studied all the time.”

In the residence hall where she lived, people knew Duda as “the girl from the study lounge,” the place she tended to spend most of her time. Things hit a low point for her midway through the semester: “I was so tired of feeling behind,” she remembers. She approached a professor she trusted, someone who always asked her how she was doing. “Literally, what helped me most was asking for help,” shares Duda.

The professor told Duda that what she was experiencing was normal and directed her to a few helpful resources. “I went to CAPS, and it was amazing. They helped me get extensions for my classes,” she says. With the support of additional faculty and staff, coupled with tutoring services, by the end of the semester, she earned straight As. She was also inducted into IC’s Oracle Society, and received the African-Latino Society Memorial Scholarship, which awards a student who has worked to influence and promote the academic, political, social, economic, and social welfare of students of color at IC and in the greater Ithaca community.

She had also discovered a new rule to live by: “Ask for help when you need it. It’s a self-love act,” advises Duda, who now knows what she’s capable of and always prioritizes her mental health. “I was so proud of myself because I saw my improvement, and the professors were also able to recognize it. That was very important to me. I feel like IC is an incredible environment if you want to learn and grow as a person.”

“One of my biggest dreams is to create more opportunities for education in Brazil.”

Duda infuses her creativity, resilience, and ambition into every project she undertakes. On top of her roles as a resident assistant, new student programs assistant, and community outreach manager for The Ithacan, she is a content creator who has drawn a community of over 270,000 followers. Her Instagram, TIkTok, and YouTube posts cover—among other subjects—college life in the United States as an international student from Brazil.

During Duda’s first semester, she and a group of her friends launched the Brazilian Students Association, an IC chapter of a student-led organization that seeks to share Brazilian culture abroad. “We create community for students like us. It means a lot to me. The Brazilian community here is not that big, but we’re like family,” says Duda, who notes that many students in the organization are grateful for the chance to speak in Portugese.

“One of my biggest dreams is to create more opportunities for education in Brazil because education transformed my life, so I really want to give back.”


A collection of introductions to the Ithaca College story—about those who continue to write it.
Previous Slide Next Slide
Hadil Khodji portrait

Hadil Khodji

Swimming in Opportunity

President of the IC Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Hadil Khodji '25 dove headfirst into actualizing a visionary solution for a formidable issue. 

Read On
Aaron and Kara

Kara Cusolito & Aaron Munzer

Growing the Future

Whether feature writing or farming, IC alumni Kara Cusolito ’08 & Aaron Munzer ’08 are building the future with their own hands.

Read On
Nick Capodilupo

Nick Capodilupo

Daring Stages and Stadiums

Nick Capodilupo ‘24 found his voice and his vigor as a vocal performance major and football player at Ithaca College.

Read On
Eric Jordan Young

Eric Jordan Young

Setting the Stage for Transformation

Eric Jordan Young ’93 finds fuel for continual collaboration, creative refuge, & transformation where he launched his career—IC.

Read On
Andrew Roberts '26

Andrew Roberts

Leveling the Playing Field

Diagnosed with autism, Andrew Roberts ’26 was told he might never speak. Now, this Park scholar is leveling the playing field.  

Read On