CHAPEL HILL, NC—After three years of hard work, Aaron Martin, junior Robertson Scholar, is fast on the heels of Hannah Nussbaum, freshman Morehead-Cain Scholar, in terms of on-campus leadership, moral resolve, and maturity.
Martin, who in middle school founded Sphinx—a web-based platform and mobile application intended to streamline multilateral business transactions—says he decided to “pivot” last year and began building a more relatable ‘Martin brand.’
“I thought telling everyone I was a Robertson would make them like me,” Martin said. “It seems to have had the opposite effect. So this year, I am just casually going to mention it whenever possible.”
Nussbaum, who only tells people about her scholarship if it is necessary, says that she is well-liked but busy.
“It’s hard to stay on top of friends, work and all the things I want to do,” Nussbaum said, earnestly. “Sometimes I feel like I have all these passions and opportunities, I want to give everything to this experience and learn as much as possible.”
Martin felt similarly.
“I think it is going to be a really important first step to a job in consulting,” he said.
Both are attempting to find a way to combine their career interests and their dedication to serving the community.
“Two months ago, while looking for a nearby bathroom, I walked into the Campus Y for the first time,” said Martin. “And despite its juvenile idealism, that place taught me something. Being a good person means helping other people. And when you’re a good person, people want to buy your product. And that’s what Sphinx is all about.”
Similarly, Nussbaum, who founded her own committee within the Campus Y to empower young women in Janakpur, Nepal, has become an integral pillar of the Campus Y’s leadership.
“It’s a real shame [Nussbaum] is only a first-year,” said Campus Y Co-President Malinda Wark. “Otherwise, we’d let her run the show. I literally get her advice before making any big decision for the Campus Y.”
“Hannah is so wise,” added Wark. “And well-rounded, just so well-rounded.”
As Martin pursues similar leadership roles on campus, many of his peers wonder whether he can successfully change his image.
“Aaron was on my team for a case competition in BUSI 554: Consulting Skills and Frameworks,” said junior economics major Riley Richards. “[Martin] launched two separate coups against our team-leader during the process. The project was only five days.
“I mean, he’s smart,” he added. “But just kind of a dick, too. Like a huge dick. But also, still a good guy. Does that make sense?”
A number of Martin’s friends have similar concerns.
“Aaron is an awesome guy and I think his moral center is as strong as ever, or at least getting better,” said Martin’s roommate Jeremy Lee. “But he told me yesterday that he would cut off his left thumb for a chance to ride in an elevator with Warren Buffet. I just don’t think he sees the bigger picture.”
Nevertheless, Martin continues to integrate servant leadership into his daily life and remains optimistic about one day rivaling many of the first-year Moreheads at UNC.
“If there is a way to make money and help people at the same time, I’ll find it,” says Martin. “But either way I feel pretty good about where Sphinx is headed.”
In the spirit of collaboration, Martin and Nussbaum discussed a joint project last week in the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program’s main office, a small study room in the basement of Graham Memorial.
Yesterday, they continued the conversation in the lavish multi-floored Morehead-Cain Foundation.
“I’ll never be as good,” Martin mumbled to himself as Nussbaum went to get him a soda.