Becky Agostino ’07 Wins Distinguished Robertson Scholarship; One of 30 From a Pool of 20,000

Rebecca Agostino ‘07 was recently awarded a Robertson Scholarship from Duke University. The Robertson Scholars Program selects approximately thirty applicants a year from a pool of 20,000 candidates. Students are chosen who exhibit leadership, a commitment to public service, and superior academic achievement. Robertson Scholars receive full tuition for four years, funding for three summers of service, and a laptop computer. The entire scholarship is valued at over $140,000. This joint merit program sends 15 Scholars to Duke University and 15 Scholars to UNC-Chapel Hill. While Agostino made it through the selection rounds for both schools, Duke ultimately awarded her the scholarship. According to the program website, director Dr. Eric Mlyn said, “Over the years I have been inspired by the young people I meet through our selection process. This year is no exception. They are bright, passionate, and eager, and will make meaningful contributions to every community they touch.” A week before classes start, Robertson Scholars attend a five-day leadership retreat led by the National Outdoor Leadership School in North Carolina. This retreat allows the Scholars to meet their fellow classmates and learn about their similar passions. Agostino said, “I’m really excited to be around other students who have pursued their interest in community service and general activism in high school. It’s really appealing to me because it’s something I’m interested in, and I’ll be meeting a group of kids with similar values.” Scholars are also encouraged to find mentors among the program staff and university faculty. A dozen Robertson Faculty Partners are available to Scholars for advising during formal and informal meetings. Another fundamental component of the program is the summer experience. Receiving a funding of $4000, the Scholars spend the summer after their freshman year working at community service site in the southeastern United States. According to the program press kit, Scholars receive a $6000 funding to spend their second summer abroad, “focusing on community service and crossing cultural boundaries in an international setting.” Scholars have the choice between sites in South Africa, Vietnam, and Argentina. During their third summer titled the “Exploration Summer,” Scholars have the freedom to pursue an interest at any location. With a funding of $6000, students typically research for documentary work, participate in a service project, or explore potential career interests in an internship. According to Agostino, she does not yet have plans for the Exploration Summer, although she is considering an internship. Of her thoughts for the future, Agostino said, “Community service is something I have always been interested in, but career-wise I would like to combine it with something more academic…so perhaps combining economics and development.” Agostino first became involved in community service during her lower year, when she began attending meetings for the Center for Global Justice. The club serves to educate PA students about issues of international social justice, while providing the resources and support necessary to become involved. At the end of the year, Agostino became the student coordinator of the group. This year, she holds a larger leadership role as one of two community service general coordinators. Her main responsibilities are to lead the Community Service Executive Board, guide student coordinators in weekly meetings, and plan campus-wide community service events such as the Bread and Roses picnic and the Walk for Hunger. Agostino said, “I just love community service because it is a really hands-on approach to addressing issues that we learn about in the classroom instead of just talking about it.” Agostino first learned of the Robertson program from Anne Ferguson, her college counselor. Senior Associate Director of College Counseling Anne Ferguson said, “The Robertson is a prestigious scholarship opportunity for students who are very involved with community service. How could I not think of Becky? She has been such an integral part of the community service program here at Andover.” Agostino is the first student from Phillips Academy ever to receive a Robertson Scholarship. Ferguson said, “I think Duke is a great match for Becky, and she will contribute enormously to their community service program. They are lucky to have her.” UNC graduate Julian Robertson and his wife Josie funded the Robertson Scholars Program in 2000 with a $24 million endowment gift. The Robertsons established this joint scholarship program to promote further collaboration between Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill. To emphasize this union, Scholars switch campuses for the second semester of their sophomore year. Additionally, all Scholars always have full student privileges at both Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill. This includes continual access to their sister school’s courses, faculty, research opportunities, and sporting events.