Scholar Profiles

Niharika Vattikonda

Campus: UNC
Hometown: Herndon, VA
High School: Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology

From the moment I stepped out of my first Model U.N. meeting as a 7th grader, I’ve been fascinated by how our institutions shape our lives and, conversely, how we can shape our institutions. As the Student Representative to the Fairfax County School Board, I was able to gain exposure to the field of education policy in the 10th largest school system in the country on issues ranging from student mental health to access to extracurricular activities to disproportional discipline outcomes, and I’ve worked throughout my term to prioritize equity in opportunity and access for our students. On the other side of the dais, I’ve worked in the community for grassroots advocacy to increase access to computer science for students in low-income neighborhoods through the workshops and hackathons I’ve hosted during my work as the founder of Teens Transforming Technology. In the coming years, I plan to continue my focus on learning about the interactions between society and our institutions, whether that be through public policy, economics, business, or journalism.

What drew you to the Robertson Program?

Every Robertson Scholar I talked to told me that the most valuable part of the program is the incredibly tight-knit peer community, and I had the opportunity to experience this community through the conversations and camaraderie I found during finalist weekend. The Robertson community is one of extremely supportive peers, but more importantly, the program is committed to encouraging us to push each other to achieve our goals with the support of the community, which spans the wonderful academic and extracurricular resources available at both campuses. I was so excited by the seemingly infinite number of possibilities that the Robertson program would provide by combining the pool of resources available at both UNC and Duke. I’m so grateful to be a part of the program that will drive me to challenge myself throughout my four years and for a lifetime of learning and service ahead.

Vattikonda Niharika 2022