Alumni Profiles

Niharika Vattikonda

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

What drew you to the Robertson Program?

In a word, the community. During Finalist Weekend, every scholar I talked to always spoke about the incredibly tight-knit peer community—I’m so grateful to have experienced this camaraderie and support over the past few years. It’s a community that challenges us to rethink our beliefs, to critically examine our role in the community, and to reach our goals. I’ve met some of my closest friends in the Robertson Program, and as a community, we’ve had the chance to work together in our classes, extracurriculars, and our Community and Exploration Summers. Our entire community really encourages us to make the most of the opportunities available to us at both UNC and Duke, supporting each other as we pursue growth and service during our time in college and beyond.

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

Through the Robertson Program, we have the wonderful privilege of having access to infinite opportunities on both of our campuses, and over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to embrace different aspects of each campus. I’ve been able to pursue interdisciplinary study and to find new connections between my interests in technology, finance, journalism, and public policy. A key part of the Robertson experience is continuous reflection—from our first check-ins freshman year and throughout our academic and summer experiences, we’re challenged to think more critically about our experiences and to commit to living the Robertson values of intellectual curiosity, strength of character, purposeful leadership, and collaborative spirit in everything we do. That focus on reflection has given me an entirely new perspective on my goals for the future.

What has been your favorite Robertson moment so far?

During fall semester sophomore year, we had a weekend class retreat, spending the afternoon playing arcade games, laser tag, and mini-golf. It was one of the first times we were able to really reconnect as a class after living in different places during our Community Summer. For me, it was amazing to see how much we had grown as a class in just a year. We spent the afternoon trading anecdotes about our Community Summer experiences, looking forward to Campus Switch, and reflecting on how we’ve grown as a cohort from our initial icebreakers during Finalist Weekend and the beginning of freshman year. It was the moment that I realized that, for the rest of our lives, we’re always going to have an incredible community to learn and grow with.

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