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Student Success


The University of North Carolina is now accepting applications for the 2019-2020 Presidential Scholars Program.

This is a one-year, paid appointment for three May 2017 UNC system graduates to serve at The UNC System Office in Chapel Hill under the UNC System President.

The program gives graduates the opportunity to see how the University runs at the highest level while also giving them a chance to work with senior leadership and the Board of Governors.

Ms. Kimberly Mitchell, director for student development and UNC ASG advisor, advises the current class of four scholars.

Scholars are assigned a variety of projects throughout the year where they get to work in depth to hone professional skills and gain real working experience.  Current Scholars have projects from all UNC System departments including legal, advancement, academic affairs, and communications.

Cortland Mercer, a political science graduate of the University of North Carolina at Asheville, began his career as a 2011-2012 Presidential Scholar. He said, “The Presidential Scholars program gives recent graduates a seat at the table in the high stakes, high impact world of public affairs.” It was this opportunity that allowed him to see the importance of effective communications and directed his career path. He now serves as Associate Director for High Lantern Group, a strategic communications consulting firm. 

The Scholars program goes beyond higher education and career development, with an exposure to the ideals of public service to the state.  Scholars see firsthand how education legislation and University policy affect current students and state residents.

South Moore, a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was a 2015-2016 Presidential Scholar who attended Duke University School of Law. He reflected on the experience saying, “I had, for a long time, desired a career in public service, and the Presidential Scholars program exposed me to the importance and urgency of serving North Carolina specifically. It’s impossible to be surrounded by so many talented individuals who have devoted their careers to this state and not become infected by their devotion.”

Ashley George, a 2018-2019 Scholar states, “The Presidential Scholars program has given me invaluable experience in the world of higher education. The program allows recent graduates to emerge themselves into the policies that affect our institutions of higher education and all North Carolinians. This program has showed me how important and impactful public service work is.”

Presidential Scholars also have the unique responsibility of providing a student voice to University administration. Having just graduated, they have the ability to comment on issues under discussion from the student perspective.

The late University President Emeritus Bill Friday told students that, “Every morning a million North Carolinians get up and go to work for wages which leave them below the poverty line so they can pay taxes that finance the education you receive…” and charged them that their job was “to figure out how you’re going to pay them back.”

Graduates need look no further that the Presidential Scholars Program to fulfill this charge.

More information may be found at https://www.northcarolina.edu/Current-Students/Presidential-Scholars and applicants may apply by using the online application. Applications are due by January 28, 2019 and interviews will take place in February.


Written by Kathryn Walker, a 2016-2017 Presidential Scholar
Edited, 2018