UNC System 2018-19 Presidential Scholars from left to right: Dajer Fernandez, Ashley George, William Zahran, Colin Russell.

At the System Office, the arrival of our new Presidential Scholars is an annual sign that it’s just about time to ramp-up for the fall semester. Yesterday I met with the new group of four, and I walked away energized. These recent UNC System graduates will be giving us invaluable assistance as the business of running the University transitions from the summer’s steady simmer to the fall’s full boil.

Our four scholars serve a one-year appointment, working closely with the System Office to help us research, write, and implement policy.

The program is a win-win situation. The scholars help the UNC System do its work while they earn valuable experience in preparation for promising careers in public leadership. The Presidential Scholars program is one way the University fulfills its core mission to build a service mindset and create principled leaders.

Our four incoming scholars bring skills and insight from across the state:

Dajer Fernandez
UNC Pembroke
Bachelor of Science, Political Science

Ashley George
UNC Wilmington
Bachelor of Arts, Political Science; Minor, Pre-Law

Colin Russell
UNC-Chapel Hill
Business Administration and Political Science

William Zahran
East Carolina University
Biology, Bachelor of Science; Minor, Business Administration

Of course, new beginnings are almost always bittersweet. As we welcome this new cluster, we’ve had to say goodbye to last year’s group. We wish the 2017-18 class best of luck as they begin the next stage of their careers.

Elizabeth Boney started work as an associate with Whiteboard Advisors, an educational consulting firm in Washington, DC.

Carson Rich has begun a position as the special assistant to the chancellor at Elizabeth City State University.

Farris Smith will pursue her master’s degree in history at North Carolina State University. Her area of research will focus on the history of education in the South.

Katie Stanley will be a legislative assistant to Rep. Dean Arp in the North Carolina General Assembly.

The 2018-19 scholars certainly have big shoes to fill. But after meeting them, I’m nothing if not optimistic that North Carolina’s future will only get brighter and brighter.


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