Randi Dagenhart, a Fall 2020 graduate of UNC Pembroke, has been selected as a UNC System Presidential Scholar for the 2021-22 academic year.
Dagenhart will serve a one-year appointment and provide a wide range of professional functions for the UNC System Office. She will have the opportunity to interact with President Peter Hans, his senior leadership team and the UNC Board of Governors. She will experience firsthand how education legislation and university policy affect current students and faculty systemwide.
Dagenhart was among three scholars selected from UNC System’s Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 graduates following a rigorous application and interview process. She is only the second UNCP graduate to be awarded the prestigious appointment since the program began in 2008. Dajer Fernandez served as a scholar in 2018. Dagenhart believes that more UNCP alumni will follow and encourages seniors to apply for the position.
“I am honored to have been selected for this appointment and will represent my institution well,” she said. “I look forward to being a part of actionable and equitable change within the UNC System and am fortunate for the opportunity to work closely with various stakeholders as I learn more about the essential role of the UNC System Office within North Carolina education.”
She is grateful for the support she has received from the political science department and fellow alumni. Most notably, Dr. Emily Sharum encouraged her to pursue the position and empowered her as a student and professional.
Dagenhart graduated cum laude, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in management. Her passion for engagement began early on as she volunteered for her local chamber of commerce, where she was later named chamber ambassador. She further explored this passion when she was appointed as treasurer for the Student Government Association and during her participation in UNCP’s Model United Nation’s team.
As a first-generation American with Mexican and German heritage, she was inspired to research the impact of locally implemented federal immigration policies in North Carolina. She developed a thesis on the subject during her senior year.
She also notes her journey with accessibility as a significant part of her collegiate career following a severe motor vehicle accident that required her to navigate campus using assistive devices. “I am passionate about accessibility advocacy and have gained a deeper understanding of the integral role that higher education institutions have in accessibility initiatives on campus.”
Dagenhart is seeking a career in economic development at the local or state level and will be pursuing a graduate degree.
“I aspire to work with local businesses and nonprofits by helping them access state and federal funds to advance their business functions and vitalize their local economy,” she said. “I would love to develop strategic partnerships with chambers of commerce, local representatives and local educational institutions to carry out equity-minded change.”