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DURHAM, N.C. - Former Gov. Bev Perdue says she's loving life outside the political bubble -- focusing on what matters most to her: education.

Perdue splits her time between the Triangle and the coast, and spent the fall semester as a distinguished visiting fellow at Duke University.

Since leaving office, she founded DigiLEARN: Digital Learning Institute, a non-profit funded by two nationally renowned foundations to accelerate digital learning at all ages.

"I am working with technology now, because I think technology can change the learning platform for every kid in our state," she said.

In a rare interview with WNCN on Duke's campus, Perdue said since becoming a private citizen, she has been, "Working with educators, being on two college campuses (Duke and Harvard), [which are] two magnificent learning institutions," she said. "I have been able to focus on how kids learn."

When asked what advice she shares with Duke students after years of advocating for education from the top of state government, she said, "Think big thoughts. They can change the world if they think big thoughts. Be audacious. Identify the areas they might have some expertise in."

And before one thinks you need power and prestige to effect change, Perdue said this: "I've found the power of the bully pulpit doesn't end with not being the elected governor. Folks who care about core issues can really make a difference."

Even students at the university level.

Perdue was elected North Carolina's 73rd governor in 2008. She was the first woman to serve in that role.

Her passion for education reform was a hallmark of her political career. And she said it still is.