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Scholar Profiles

PJ Morales

Campus: UNC
Hometown: Coral Gables, FL
High School: Belen Jesuit Preparatory School

Louis XIV once said that “there is little that can withstand a man who can conquer himself.” Despite its militaristic language, I have found this quote to ring true throughout my life. From a young age, I was beset by multitudes of anxieties and self-esteem issues. I had severe stage fright, was afraid of attending social functions, and did not necessarily think very highly of myself. However, as I entered high school and began to take part in more activities, I realized that these problems were not impossible to overcome. I wanted to be a confident, intelligent, and collected speaker who was able to show people the very best parts of himself. I joined Model United Nations as a way to gain this confidence, as well as utilize my affinity for politics and international relations. I also joined competitions like History Bowl and Thespians, where I could use my passions for history and performance to their greatest extent. I was able to play supporting and leading roles in three different shows as an actor, which was a far cry from the days when I could barely muster enough courage to attend a friend’s birthday party. I also had the distinct honor and pleasure of serving as Vice President and President of my Model United Nations team in junior and senior years, respectively. Now, as a Robertson Scholar and going forward into the rest of my life, I want my leadership, in all the things I do, to allow people who are like me to flourish. I still struggle with social and personal anxiety on a daily basis, but I have been able to grow by finding comfort and example in those around me. My friends, schoolmates, teachers, parents, and role models have shown me that it is okay to be yourself in life, and that all people deserve to have their voices heard. I want to be able to do that for others. I want to show people that they are valuable and always deserve to be listened to and respected. More than anything, I want to help people go beyond their anxieties and fears, and truly grow.

What drew you to the Robertson Program?

I was drawn to the Robertson Program after seeing just how deeply the connection between Duke and UNC ran. After meeting many current scholars at the Finalist Weekend, it became clear to me just how amazing and unique the “dual-citizenship” experience is for Robertson Scholars. I was also attracted to the diversity of the program, as there are people from all different ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds, and with hugely varying interests and hobbies. It truly seemed to be an experience that would prepare me for the rest of my life.

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