Alumni Profiles

Bennett Stillerman

Campus: UNC
Hometown: Charlotte, NC
High School: Providence High School

Growing up in a politically divided family forced me to learn how to disagree without being disagreeable. Growing up in the suburbs of a big city taught me how to apply the lessons learned while debating at the dinner table to my friends and teachers. It was not easy at first. As an avid debater and political activist in high school, I had many opinions. I tend to think they are good ones too! But, through constant practice and repetition, I have gotten better and better about arguing without being antagonistic and being persuasive without being overbearing. These lessons formed the backdrop of my intellectual and political pursuits. As I made my way through high school, I often came into contact with divisive issues that would divide my friends and family. I became determined to set an example for how to discuss these issues without ending relationships. Now, as a first year matriculate scholar at UNC, I have many opportunities to put this determination to good use. Whether it be working with the Institute of Politics or researching the origins of political ideology, UNC has become the catalyst for me to truly test my ability to bridge divides and mend relationships. As the political crisis we face gets evermore pressing, our job becomes similarly perilous. Thank goodness I have the Robertson Scholarship Community at my back. I am excited for the many opportunities that lie ahead, and the work that is still yet to be done.

What drew you to the Robertson Program?

What better analogy of the divide between Democrats and Republicans than the rivalry between UNC and Duke? The Robertson Program is representative of the idea that has dominated my thinking for several years. We are enhanced by cooperation, not destroyed by it. So to is the Robertson Program. The Campus Switch and dual-student status presents innumerable opportunities to students from both campuses to interact, learn from, and teach others. This, in turn, allows us to grow and become better people. I fully expect to be a more well-rounded leader after graduating from college, and I will have the Robertson Program to thank for that.

Robertson Scholars, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, at Duke University’s Smith Warehouse in Durham, N.C.  

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