From left to right: Taliyah Daniels, Ezana Tamrat, and Patience Jones.

The University of North Carolina System represents 16 four-year institutions, one residential high school, and several affiliate organizations across North Carolina. As a world-renowned higher education system, the UNC System serves as North Carolina’s intellectual hub and economic engine. The Presidential Scholar program is designed to expose recent UNC System graduates to the full breadth of the System through a variety of functions inside and outside of the office. Created under the leadership of President Emeritus Erskine Bowles in 2006, more than 30 scholars have participated in the Presidential Scholars program and have continued on to enroll in top-ranked graduate programs and launch careers as the leaders of tomorrow. Today, scholars rotate through a variety of cross-functional teams to serve and support the work of the System’s institutions and affiliates.

UNC System announces Presidential Scholars for 2023-24 academic year

The best part of the presidential scholar program for me is the opportunity to interact with the brightest students. I probably learn more from them than they do from me as we exchange ideas throughout the year. The scholars make meaningful contributions while experiencing the inner workings of a large and complex public system of higher education.

Peter Hans, President of the University of North Carolina System 


The Presidential Scholar position is a one-year, full-time rotational fellowship awarded to three recent graduates of UNC System undergraduate programs. This position provides a wide range of exposure to the professional functions of the UNC System Office including but not limited to: communications, policy, data and analytics, government relations, budgeting, governing systems, academic and student affairs. Throughout the rotational experience, scholars will work on cross-functional teams that require candidates to be adaptable and innovative professionals seeking to make equity-minded change. Scholars will engage with numerous professional duties including attending meetings, researching initiatives, serving as support staff to a variety of councils/committees, as well as providing insight from the student experience in crucial policy decisions. Scholars will also be invited to attend a variety of events including campus tours, presidential and chancellor events, board meetings, and evening receptions. The UNC System will introduce candidates to numerous avenues change-makers can take and unique, career-launching opportunities while building an expansive network to support their goals. Candidates will be prepared to apply for a wide-variety of full-time positions or be prepared for enrollment in a top ranked graduate or professional program. 

To qualify for this program, candidates must be a December 2023 or May 2024 graduate of one of the 16 baccalaureate granting institutions of the UNC System. There is no professional or educational experience required. Candidates should be passionate advocates constantly seeking to understand how the UNC System can best serve its constituents. To learn more about the program and expectations, view the job flyer here.

To apply for this life-changing opportunity, candidates must complete the online application and upload various supporting documents. Those documents are: 

  • Resume, no longer than 2 pages
  • Cover Letter, no longer than 2 pages
  • Unofficial Transcript
  • Optional Letter of Recommendation
  • Essay Response

This application should speak to your passion and interest in learning more about the UNC System and best serving the System’s constituents. 


Patience Jones, North Carolina Central University

Patience Jones, of Raleigh, is a summa cum laude graduate of North Carolina Central University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English with a focus on secondary education and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Jones was a student leader while at NCCU, holding multiple positions on the Honors Student Council, Joint Greek Council, and in her sorority, Zeta Phi Beta. Previously, Jones interned with the University of North Carolina System as a Marian-Drane Graham Scholar conducting research on Educator Preparation Programs and the Lab School initiative. Following that experience, she served as a UNC Association of Student Governments Fellow, researching the allocation of student fees towards mental health services. Concurrent to her ASG fellowship, Jones served as the vice president of HBCU and MSI Relations. Outside of student leadership, Jones interned with the Duke Data Plus program to visualize Durham Public Schools’ data. She also co-published a paper on culturally responsive pedagogy and worked with the non-profit BeGreat Together on art and advocacy related initiatives. As a presidential scholar, Jones plans to learn about the nuances of higher education policy while employing the knowledge and skills she gained during college. Following the fellowship, Jones hopes to obtain her master’s in data analytics or education policy and analysis.

Ezana Tamrat, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Ezana Tamrat is a first-generation alumna of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. She was originally born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, before her family moved to Arlington, VA. Throughout her undergraduate experience, Ezana was involved in multiple organizations on campus. She served in the Student Government Association throughout her time at NC A&T. In her senior year she represented her peers as Student Body President and ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees. While Student Body President, Ezana worked to improve mental health resources, address food insecurity and celebrate campus diversity. Outside of SGA, Ezana served as the Public Relations Chair for the National Black Law Student Association and is a proud member of Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society. In spring of 2021, she was initiated into the Alpha Mu chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated. After her year as a scholar, Ezana plans to attend law school and is interested in international law.

Taliyah Daniels, University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Taliyah D. Daniels, of Longwood, NC, graduated from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. While at UNCP, she held numerous student leadership positions, culminating in her role as Student Body President and ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees. For three years she devoted her time to peer mentorship as a LEAD Fellow, working to educate students on leadership qualities. Daniels also serves as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, where she is committed to being of service to all mankind. She plans to use her time as a scholar to further develop leadership and campus engagement skills and gain the knowledge necessary for her future career plans in public service while learning from some of the state’s most impactful leaders.


Program participants have gone on to enroll in top-ranked graduate and professional programs across the nation as well as launch careers as the leaders of tomorrow.

Graduate ProgramsCareers
University of Virginia, Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public PolicyDirector, Communications & Equity Strategy at Whiteboard Advisors
The George Washington Law SchoolCommunications and Outreach Coordinator, Duke State Relations
The George Washington University, Trachtenberg SchoolSpecial Assistant to the Chief of Staff at PBS North Carolina
UNC-Chapel Hill, School of LawLegal Assistant at Ellis & Winters LLP
UNC-Chapel Hill, School of GovernmentPublic Policy Specialist at Akin Gump, LLC
UNC-Chapel Hill, Kenan-Flager Business SchoolTrade Marketing Manager at NBCUniversal
NC State University, School of Public and International AffairsLegislative Intern & Staffers – U.S. House of Representatives & U.S. Senate
American University, School of Public AffairsPolicy Advisor, The White House Office of Economic Initiatives
Duke University, Sanford School of Public PolicyU.S. Department of Education Staffer
Duke University, Fuqua School of BusinessChief of Staff, NC Dept. of Justice
Wake Forest University, School of LawDirector of Administrative Services, Office of the Governor (NC)
Georgetown University, McCourt School of Public PolicyAmerican Council on Education, Division of Government & Public Affairs
East Carolina University, MBA ProgramColorado Department of Education
University of Southern California, Rossier School of EducationRegional Planner at Lumber River Council of Governments