Alumni Profiles

Lilly Clark

Campus: Duke
Hometown: Tucson, AZ
High School: University High School

When I was twelve years old, I decided I would invent a human teleportation device. I had spent years saving for a plane ticket to see my friend across the country, and I just knew that with my machine I could finally make cheap travel accessible to girls like me. Although today my aspirations are less fantastical, I remain fascinated by the movement of people around the world, especially across borders. Humans are so limited by our geography. In coming years, I hope to advocate against this global inequity by championing the right to choose where to call home. Through Model United Nations, I’ve gained exposure to much of the international and domestic politics that make movement of people so contested and complicated. Two years ago I began volunteering through a local refugee resettlement agency as an academic tutor for students of refugee backgrounds. I was asked to teach, but I found myself constantly learning from the close friends I made from Somalia, Kenya, Syria, and Rwanda. I joined a community that quickly became my second home. Later I founded Unity Club, a pilot extension of the tutoring center on my high school campus, so students would no longer need an hour-long bus ride to access homework help. Our club provides a space for more students to cross cultural boundaries and participate in rewarding peer exchange, learning from each other regardless of citizenship status.

My interests lay not only in building communities socially, but physically. I plan to major in Civil Engineering and Global Health to gain the technical abilities and perspective I need to construct safer, healthier living spaces. I have always been captivated by the physical mechanisms of our world, and I love Civil because it offers the opportunity to combine science with human-centered design. The skills I learn will allow me to develop new ways to allow those in need to access important resources sustainably, through natural processes. I hope to combine my passions for classical oboe, modern poetry, backpacking, thrift store fashion, science, social activism, international politics, migration and refugees in way that will do the world a little good and leave me Sunday afternoons to stop and smell the flowers.

What drew you to the Robertson Program? 

I love that the purpose of the Robertson Program is to change scholars’ trajectories. I enjoy trying to plan out the details of my future, but I relish the idea that I could end up doing something completely unexpected after the next four years even more. I eagerly anticipate living, learning, and leading at both Duke and UNC alongside a group of remarkable scholars who have already inspired me in the few months I have known them. I know they will push me to be my best self, and I hope to do the same for them.

Lilly Clark