Office of Distinguished Scholarships
Andrea Barnes, a second year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been selected as the University’s first recipient of the Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows program, a competitive, five and a half week leadership development program for rising college juniors who want to make a difference.
Offering unparalleled opportunities to a select group of young men and women, the program immerses students in a dynamic leadership curriculum inspired by George Washington and today’s foremost leaders. This year 16 students will interact with nationally recognized corporate, government and military leaders and discover how to change the world through self-reflection, experiential activities and a community service-focused capstone project. The fully-funded, residential summer program, which is based at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate just outside Washington, D.C., includes a $600 weekly stipend plus all room, board and transportation expenses.
“Andrea has benefited from great mentors, and in turn, has devotedly sought ways to mentor others, said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “We are so proud that the Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows program recognized her commitment to public service and education and selected her as Carolina’s very first recipient of this distinguished fellowship. I know her experiences this summer will translate into new opportunities for many underserved populations.”
Andrea, 19, from Fort Washington, Maryland, is a public policy and sociology double major and Hispanic studies minor in the College of Arts and Sciences. She came to UNC-Chapel Hill as a Carolina Covenant Scholar and as the only Margerison Distinguished Scholar in her cohort.
“I am extremely honored to represent both Carolina and Prince George’s County, MD as a Mount Vernon Leadership Fellow,” said Andrea. “The fellowship will allow me to make monumental, community-based change that will give more students the ability to attend an extraordinary college or university, like UNC-Chapel Hill.”
As a first generation college student, Andrea is passionate about expanding access to higher education to more minority and low-income communities. Her desire to help others stems from impactful mentors who shaped the successes of her life. At Carolina, Andrea serves as the director of the Latina/o Mentoring Program, which provides academic and professional resources for students on campus. Additionally, she is an Admissions Ambassador, Co-Director of Advocacy and Community Engagement for Students for Education Reform, an Honors Carolina member and a member of Phi Alpha Delta, a pre-law fraternity. Andrea is also a gold medalist figure skater and coach. She plans to attend law school, and hopes to eventually run for Congress.
Learn more about the Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows program here.
Learn about other nationally-competitive and prestigious awards from the Office of Distinguished Scholarships (ODS), and follow ODS on Twitter: @ODS_UNCCH.
The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program named University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill third-year student Chiara Pancaldo Salemi as a 2016 Goldwater Scholar and Mike Lebhar, also a third-year student, as a 2016 Goldwater Honorable Mention.
This prestigious scholarship provides up to $7,500 per year for eligible educational expenses to students who excel in academics and who plan to pursue research careers in science, mathematics, engineering and computer disciplines.
“My congratulations go to Chiara and Mike on their prestigious recognition from the Goldwater Foundation,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “They are perfect examples of next generation leaders and problem solvers who make an impact on a global scale. The diversity of their research, encompassing simulations as well as programming and data analysis, sets them apart as pioneers charting a new course for future breakthroughs in physics, mathematics and engineering.”
For 2016, the foundation selected 252 scholarship recipients. Salemi and Lebhar were chosen from a field of 1,150 students who were nominated by colleges and universities nationwide.
Chiara, 20, is from Chapel Hill and is the daughter of Michael Kerry Salemi and Ariana Pancaldo. She is double-majoring in physics and mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences. Her research in nuclear and particle physics has taken her around the world, including the European Organization for Nuclear Research, also known as CERN. She plans to attend graduate school and study nuclear and particle physics.
Mike, 21, is from Naples, Florida and is the son of Steve and Maureen Lebhar. He is pursuing a major in biomedical engineering and minors in chemistry and neuroscience from the College of Arts and Sciences. He plans to pursue a doctoral degree in the design of artificial organs as tools for experimentation and drug screening.
Read more about Chiara and Mike here.
Learn more about the Goldwater Scholarship here.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alumna, Caroline Zullo, Class of 2015, has been selected for the elite Carnegie Junior Fellows Program. She is Carolina’s first recipient of the one-year award in 25 years of record keeping by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The Junior Fellows program provides substantive work experience at the Carnegie Endowment for students and recent graduates with career interests in international affairs.
Caroline, 22, is one of only 14 selected for the prestigious program from a pool of almost 200 applicants representing nearly 150 institutions. As a Junior Fellow, she will work full-time at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, D.C. as a paid research assistant to the endowment’s senior associates.
“We are tremendously proud of Caroline for being UNC-Chapel Hill’s first Junior Fellow of record,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “With her deep commitment to the advancement of peace and international affairs, I know her year with the Carnegie Endowment will be a transformative experience that will set her on course for a brilliant career in humanitarian affairs.”
Caroline, from Raleigh, North Carolina, is the daughter of Gary and Lisa Zullo. She graduated with honors from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2015 with a double major in political science and global studies and a minor in Arabic from the College of Arts and Sciences. She is currently teaching English to Palestinian high school students in East Jerusalem through the Amideast Educational and Training Services.
“I am truly honored to be Carolina’s first Junior Fellow of record and to be working with the Middle East program,” said Zullo. “It is an invaluable opportunity not only to research and write about pressing topics in the Middle East, but also to learn from acclaimed Carnegie scholars and senior associates.”
Read more about Caroline here.
Learn more about the Carnegie Junior Fellows Program here.
Larry Han and Matthew Leming ‘15 have been awarded prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarships, which provide full support for graduate study at the University of Cambridge in England.
This is the first time Carolina has had two people selected as Gates Cambridge Scholars in the same year. Carolina now has a total of five Gates Cambridge Scholars.
Larry, a fourth year student and Matt, a master’s student, are among 35 people selected from 826 applicants in the U.S. competition for the scholarship, which was established in 2000 and funded by a $210 million donation to the University of Cambridge by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It enables academically outstanding students from outside the United Kingdom with a strong interest in social leadership and responsibility to pursue graduate study at the storied university. Both Larry and Matt are Goldwater Scholars and members of Honors Carolina.
Larry, 21, from Raleigh, and the son of Bajin Han and Xiaomin Li, is a Morehead-Cain Scholar and plans to graduate this May with a major in biostatistics from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and minors in chemistry and mathematics from the College of Arts and Sciences. At Cambridge, Han intends to pivot toward understanding how healthcare services and intervention delivery can be modified to improve patient outcomes. He will pursue a master’s degree in philosophy in strategy, marketing and operations at The Judge Business School. Han will begin his studies at Cambridge in 2017 after a year at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.
Leming, 22, the son of Gary and Lisa Leming of New Orleans, LA, is a Carolina Covenant Scholar and plans to graduate this May with a master’s in computer science from the College of Arts and Sciences as part of a five-year computer science bachelor’s and master’s program. He earned his undergraduate degree and completed minors in mathematics and Russian language and literature, also from the College, last year. At Cambridge, Leming will pursue a doctorate in psychiatry in Churchill College, focusing his research on analyzing the circuitous connections in the brain with diffusion and functional MRIs, as a way to predict mental illness and neurological disorders in children.
Read more about Larry and Matt in UNC’s press release.
Learn more about the Gates Cambridge Scholarship here.
Blake M. Hauser, a fourth year Carolina student, has been named a recipient of the Churchill Scholarship, a research-focused award that provides funding to American students for a year of master’s study in science, mathematics and engineering at Churchill College, based at the University of Cambridge in England.
Blake was one of only 15 students selected for the prestigious award, which not only requires outstanding academic achievement but also seeks those with proven talent in research, extensive laboratory experience and personal activities outside of academic pursuits, especially in music, athletics and social service. She is UNC’s 16th Churchill Scholar.
Blake, 21, is the daughter of Michael David Hauser and Elizabeth Hungarland Hauser, and is from Marietta, Georgia. She is a 2012 graduate of The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Georgia and plans to graduate from Carolina this May with a double major in environmental health sciences from UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and biology from the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as a minor in chemistry, also from the College.
Last year, she was one of Carolina’s four Truman Scholarship finalists, the most Carolina has had in recent years.
Her interest in the study of infectious disease can be traced back to a summer in Malawi, where she worked on a systematic review of the impact of HIV counseling and testing on uninfected HIV individuals. Blake aspires to be a physician-scientist and plans to pursue an M.Phil in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation.
Aja Kennedy, a 2012 Carolina graduate, is one of 30 candidates chosen as a recipient of the 2015 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship. The Rangel Fellowship is a prestigious and nationally competitive award funded by the U.S. Department of State that supports extraordinary individuals who want to pursue a career in the U.S. Foreign Service. The award is worth approximately $95,000 in benefits, including funding of a master’s degree, internships, and professional development.
“The Rangel is a fantastic opportunity for me,” Kennedy said. “My summer congressional internship in D.C. and my postgraduate placement in a U.S. embassy will help me to learn how our government works as well immerse me in the working culture of an embassy. The fact that I’ll also be provided with mentors to guide my professional and personal development means I’ll be given the best possible chance to succeed in a diplomatic career once I graduate.”
Kennedy, 25, of Charlotte, NC, is the daughter of Anthony Kennedy and Alma Kennedy. She is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who completed service to the Darien Province of Panama this April as an English Education Facilitator and as president of Peace Corps Panama’s Gender and Development Committee, where she oversaw management of PEPFAR funds allotted to Peace Corps Panama. She learned about the Rangel Fellowship while investigating opportunities to join the Foreign Service. She plans to promote economic development and prosperity as a Foreign Service Officer while working in the Far East and other locations around the world. After completing her internship last summer, Kennedy enrolled in her first semester Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs last fall and is studying for a master’s degree in public affairs.
Kennedy was first drawn to public service and international affairs during her secondary school interactions learning from first and second generation immigrants’ cultural backgrounds. “I decided to attend UNC after hearing about the UNC Study Abroad office’s accessibility,” she said. “I learned that many UNC students study abroad, and I wanted to grow by having more cross-cultural experiences.”
At UNC, she pursued a double major in romance languages focused on Spanish and in international studies focused in Latin America and global economics, trade, and development and a minor in Chinese. Kennedy was a Phillips Ambassador, a Freeman-ASIA Scholar, and a participant in the UNC Southeast Asia Study Abroad Fellowship for first year students. She also studied abroad in Spain and has served as an ESL tutor, teaching assistant, outreach educator, and education facilitator both at UNC and with community organizations and institutions from Carrboro to Panama. A member of the Dean’s list during all semesters, she also placed first in two Chinese speaking competitions in the Asian studies department, served in the Kappa Kappa Psi national honorary band fraternity, and was drum major for the UNC Marching Tar Heels.
The Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program began in 2003 and is a joint initiative between the U.S. State Department and Howard University that aims to enhance the excellence and diversity of the U.S. Foreign Service. The program includes a summer enrichment program for undergraduate students in addition to its graduate fellowship. Managed by the Ralph J. Bunche Center at Howard University, the program has enabled Fellows to serve as diplomats around the world who contribute to a more diverse representation and effective execution of U.S. foreign policy.
In November 2014, Sarah Bufkin ’13 made history as she became the first female Mitchell Scholar in the country to also be named as a Rhodes Scholar. Sarah was able to pursue her love of writing and her coursework as a cultural studies and history major before becoming Carolina’s third Mitchell Scholar and 49th Rhodes Scholar.
Sarah received a competitive William W. and Ida W. Taylor Research Fellowship of $4,000 to study the intersection of public engagement, political unrest, and poetry in Northern Ireland during the 1970s. After taking a course with Pulitzer Prize-winner Taylor Branch ‘68, Sarah conducted comparative research on the death penalty in the UK and North Carolina. She earned the opportunity to choose between finalist interviews for both the Rhodes and Mitchell Scholarships in fall 2013. Before she began her master’s degree in moral, legal, and political philosophy in fall 2014 at Queens University, Belfast in Northern Ireland on her prestigious Mitchell Scholarship, she served as communications coordinator for the North Carolina NAACP.
Sarah will begin her D.Phil. in politics at the University of Oxford in fall 2015 as a Rhodes Scholar and plans to ultimately practice civil rights law. “Applying for the Rhodes is an arduous, but rewarding process because it makes you sit down and reflect on who you are, what motivates you, and how you want to have an impact on the world,” says Sarah. “Fortunately, I always had a support network who was able to have those substantive conversations with me and to ask me the deep questions about why I pursued the scholarship I did.”
Read more about Sarah here.
When S. Jakelin Bonilla ’12 and her family moved to NC from California, they shared visions of a brighter future filled with educational opportunities. A Siler City native, she began to realize those visions when she attended UNC-Chapel Hill on a Pogue Scholarship; she was also a Carolina Covenant Scholar and both a mentee and a mentor for the Scholars Latino Initiative.
In February 2015, Jakelin, 24, was one of 18 Americans announced as a Luce fellowship recipient. The Luce Scholars Program is a one-year fellowship designed to introduce Americans under age 30 with limited exposure to Asia to the continent. The award provides stipends, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia. Carolina is home to more Luce Scholars than any college or university in the United States. “I am eager to learn from immigration activists working in grassroots organizations,” said Jakelin. “Like in other areas of the world, the forces that drive immigration-economic opportunity, political oppression, and even environmental factors-are only increasing in Asia.”
Upon graduation, Jakelin served as the director of the Global Gap Year Fellowship and Global Programs in the Campus Y at UNC-Chapel Hill. After her Luce year in Asia, she plans to earn joint juris doctor and master’s degrees from Harvard and ultimately practice as a public interest lawyer.
Read more about Jakelin here.
UNC alumnus Surojit “Surge” Biswas ’13 was selected in January 2014 as one of 14 Churchill Scholars nationwide. The Churchill Scholarship is given to American undergraduates planning to pursue graduate studies in science, mathematics and engineering and is currently valued at $62,000 for graduate work at the University of Cambridge in England. Recipients are chosen for exceptional academic talent and achievement, capacity for original and creative work at an advanced level, and outstanding personal qualities.
Surge earned his bachelor of science in mathematical decision sciences and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in May 2012. He chose to remain for a year after graduation to complete his research project at UNC conducting experiments aimed at understanding how and why microbes interact with plant hosts.
Surge is pursuing a master of philosophy degree in plant sciences at Cambridge, and then plans to seek a doctorate in translational bioinformatics. “Given ongoing improvements in measurement technology like DNA sequencing, big biological data is increasingly becoming the norm. I want to use statistics and computer science to mine these datasets for answers to highly applied problems,” said Surge. “The opportunity to work at Cambridge with a world-class scientist toward genetically engineering thermally stable crops is a fantastic opportunity. Oh, and getting to do so at a university with the richest of cultures — scientific and otherwise — is exhilarating. I’m truly thankful for this awesome opportunity.”
Read more about Surge here.
In spring of 2015, Joseph Locklear ’17 was chosen in a nationwide competition as one of 50 Udall Scholars, and also became Carolina’s first American Indian recipient. The Udall Foundation in Tucson, Arizona, named for Morris Udall and Stewart Udall to honor their positive impact on this nation’s environment, public lands, and natural resources, and their support of the rights and self-governance of American Indians and Alaska Natives, bestows the Udall Scholarship on sophomores and juniors committed to careers in the environment or, for American Indian and Alaskan native applicants, students pursuing health care or tribal public policy. Scholars must demonstrate leadership potential and academic achievement.
“It feels great to know I am one step closer to reaching my goal of working in health care within Native American populations,” said Joseph. “I aspire to live up to the ideals of the Udall Scholarship and have a positive influence on my community.”
Joseph is from Rowland, NC and is a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. He plans to earn an M.D./Ph.D. and become a research physician, relying on his background and education to help build better doctor-patient relationships within Native American communities. Joseph has served as a member of the Minority Student Recruitment Committee, treasurer for the Carolina Indian Circle, and helped restore UNC-Chapel Hill’s chapter of Phi Sigma Nu, the largest Native American fraternity in the United States.
Read more about Joseph here.
Recent Award Finalists + Recipients
James Williams ‘16
Marshall Scholarship, 2015-16
James is a double major in economics and Asian studies who hopes to help shape U.S. foreign policy toward China. James, fluent in Mandarin, is from North Andover, Massachusetts and is UNC’s 17th Marshall Scholarship recipient.
Joseph Locklear ‘17
Udall Scholarship, 2014-15
Joseph, a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, plans to pursue a career in native health care to address the problem of addictive behaviors among tribal populations. He is Carolina’s 15th Udall Scholar and the university’s first American Indian recipient.
Jake Bernstein ‘16
Blake Hauser ‘16
Destiny Planter ’16
Shauna Rust ’16
Truman Finalists, 2014-15
This group was Carolina’s largest group of Finalists for the Truman Scholarship in recent years. Their interests include social entrepreneurship (Jake), epidemiology and surgical initiatives (Blake), children’s rights advocacy (Destiny), and community health promotion (Shauna).
Larry Han ‘16
Anya Katsevich ‘17
Kaitlyn Tsai ’16
Goldwater Scholarship, 2014-15
This trio is focused on global public health issues (Larry), practical applications of mathematical theory (Anya) and research aimed at treating disease (Kaitlyn). Carolina has produced 44 Goldwater Scholars.
Information Sessions, Workshops, and Prep-Shops
ODS regularly hosts information sessions, workshops, and prep-shops to help applicants better understand and prepare for the application process.
UNC HAS PRODUCED
49 RHODES SCHOLARS
Words of Wisdom:
The personal statement is the key to the application. It’s your chance to stand out. Tell a story that makes the reader want to get to know you. Create a narrative that speaks to your goals and what you hope to achieve.