Annalee Blanks, (she/her), Western Carolina University, Presidential Scholar 2020-2021 

Annalee Blanks, graduated from Western Carolina University with a B.S. in History, B.S. in Political Science, and a B.A. in Political Science and Public Policy. Following graduation, she had a year gap until starting Law School and chose to pursue the Presidential Scholar program. During her time as a Presidential Scholar, Annalee thoroughly enjoyed attending Board of Governors meetings and enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the governing body from mentors and colleagues. She found that she was not only able to learn from colleagues but also able to build a professional network and connect with leaders across the State. Annalee valued the rotational structure of the program and found it to be both dynamic and challenging. She learned to balance projects, tasks, and responsibilities by developing a list of goals every week to stay aligned with focal objectives. 

The Presidential Scholar program is a unique opportunity for young leaders to be immersed in the UNC System.  Each scholar is able to spend a few months in various divisions to gain a better understanding of their functions and initiatives.  This fellowship allows for meaningful engagement with senior leaders and provides hands-on experience, thus giving a better understanding of the leading university system in the nation.

Austen Nowell, Director of State Government Relations

Katharine Shriver, (she/her), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Presidential Scholar 2019-2020  

Katharine Shriver is from Cary, North Carolina and graduated with distinction from UNC-Chapel Hill in May 2019 with a B.A. in Political Science and Public Policy. Following graduation,  she worked at the UNC System Office as a Presidential Scholar from 2019 – 2020. Through this immersive opportunity, she was able to explore the system’s inner workings and develop a keener understanding of how higher education has transformed North Carolina’s economy and why it is critical to our state’s future. Specifically, she was able to assist in a 1 million statewide affordability campaign, participate in a commercial, traveled across the state, and conducted high level research on general education requirements. It was through this fellowship that led Katharine to stay at the UNC System for an additional year working as a research assistant within the Division of Strategy & Policy. Katharine is currently at the University of Virginia, Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy pushing a master of public policy degree. Upon graduation, she hopes to enter into governmental consulting and return back to the UNC System in the future.

Ashley George, (she/her), University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Presidential Scholar 2018-2019

Ashley George graduated from UNC Wilmington in 2018 with a B.A. in Political Science and Government. She was involved in various campus organizations including the Black Women’s Association, NAACP, Chancellor’s Campus Climate Committee, and others. Ashley applied for the Presidential Scholar program and sought to learn more about the inner workings of North Carolina’s education policies and procedures at the highest level. During her time as a Scholar, Ashely was involved in data analysis with the Strategy and Policy division and worked to determine institutional strategic plan metrics across the System. She was also involved in the WePromise campaign to highlight the affordability of several UNC System institutions to high schools across the state. Ashley’s time as a Scholar helped her realize that she wanted to pursue a career in which she could inform equitable policy decisions using data.Through a career in Public Policy, her goal was to work towards the betterment of constituents and the greater public, and today she is doing just that. Following her graduate studies at The George Washington University for a Master’s Degree in Public Policy, Ashley advanced her career in Community and Economic Development for a local government agency in Central Pennsylvania. Her advice to prospective Scholars is to ask questions, proactively pursue projects, and find a mentor who can provide professional guidance during and after the program.