Alumni Profiles

Carsten Pran

Campus: Duke
Hometown: Tustin, CA
High School: Foothill High School

In the short time I have been in college, the world around me has gained many layers of complexity. With each new perspective and discussion I am exposed to, the issues that I thought only concerned a few parties gain more dimension, adding knots to the tangle of conflicts. One such issue that fascinates me with its complexity is climate change. Climate change is a beast made up of hundreds of intricately connected, but sometimes vastly different issues, and not all of them are environmental. I believe that to conquer this beast, we need buy-in from all directions and every discipline. I was thrilled to learn that Duke was taking the initiative to commit to achieve carbon neutrality by 2024 and I wanted my peers to share this excitement and bring a general consciousness about climate change into their own academic paths. I have found platforms on campus in organizations like Green Devils and the Chronicle, where I have worked to facilitate top-down administrative projects within our school’s Climate Action Plan by engaging the student body. This semester, I led a team to create an online learning module surrounding Duke’s Climate Action Plan, condensing the information in a grab-and-go fashion. I am also working with a group of faculty and students to assess energy use for buildings on campus to provide recommendations on how to reduce energy waste and increase efficiency. Beginning at Duke and UNC and reaching larger audiences, I want to inspire others to believe that complex issues, though overwhelming and often depressing, can be mitigated through the collaboration of people with diverse talents, perspectives and fields of study. By showing action, preaching hope and meeting people where they are, I believe we can alter the entire paradigm of how we view our responsibilities to this planet.

What drew you to the Robertson Program?

I believe attending college is a privilege that comes with the responsibility of making my education apply to something larger than myself. The RSLP, with nearly infinite guidance and opportunities, serves as an incubator for students to develop as leaders who are cognizant of issues in their communities and prepared to find impactful, creative solutions. I was drawn to the program because it provides unparalleled support throughout the difficult and exciting path towards self-discovery and leadership development.

How has your experience with the Robertson shaped your goals and career path?

Perhaps the most valuable thing that RSLP’s programming has taught me is how to be comfortable with deep introspection. In the short amount of time I have been a Scholar, I have gained the framework to better understand myself and my surroundings, guiding me onto a track of ongoing self-actualization. Going through this vulnerable process with other scholars has gotten me closer to my core intentions, fears and passions and has helped me feel more confident in my intuition. The constant process of asking questions, listening intently and refining my perceptions has made me obsessed with numerous forms of exploration. Academic and professional development, in my opinion, follows naturally and in tandem.

Favorite Robertson moment?

Sitting on top of a car watching the sun disappear over the soybean fields in the thick, warm Mississippi air with new friends. I joined the program at the end of my freshman year as a matriculate scholar and Community Summer was my first real introduction to a cohort of people who had already gotten close throughout freshman year. I felt an immediate sense of community and trust, which was an amazing introduction to the experiences to come.

Carsten Pran