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UNCP student interns as a Marian Drane Graham Scholar


Many UNC Pembroke students find opportunities to advance their professional careers during the summer. Elizabeth White recently completed a six-week, intensive summer internship with the University of North Carolina General Administration.

The Marian Drane Graham Scholars Program is in its inaugural year and was available this summer to only six rising juniors among the 16 UNC institutions. White is an elementary education major from Elkin, N.C.

“When I got the phone call that I was accepted, I screamed,” White said. “We had two hours of intense interviews; one was an individual interview, and in the other, I interviewed with a group of people including Board of Governors members.

“I thought because I was at one of the smaller UNC schools, I would not get the internship,” White said. “It’s a real honor.”

For elementary education professor Ashley Hope, White was first person she thought of when she heard about the internship. “I thought she would be an excellent candidate because of her tenacity, her outgoing personality and her willingness and interest to be involved in meaningful projects and work,” Dr. Hope said. “She has a curious mind, loves learning, has a strong work ethic and is both confident and humble.

“I’m so proud of her accomplishment in being selected and completing the program,” Dr. Hope continued. “I know Elizabeth has a bright future ahead of her.”

During the internship, White toured much of North Carolina from her quarters at NC State University.

“We toured all six of the intern’s campuses, including an overnight in Asheville,” she said. “I was the host and tour guide when we came to UNCP.”

The group also traveled to Washington D.C., where they met with UNC’s staff there and visited elected officials. “I got to meet Senator Kay Hagen (D-N.C.) and several other members of Congress,” she said. “In Chapel Hill, I met UNC President Tom Ross.”

White said it was “an immersion” in the policy and issues of higher education. “It was very interesting, and I would recommend it to other students,” she said. “If you are going into education like me, it was especially interesting. I would consider a career in higher education, after I teach for a while.”

A research project was required of the Marian Drane Graham Scholars. “I worked with the North Carolina Community Colleges to research my paper and presentation,” White said. “I talked with every community college in the state several times (there are 58). I studied the success of community college graduates who transfer to four-year schools.”

White would become a classroom teacher. Like many teacher candidates, she was inspired by a teacher.

“I had a great teacher in elementary school who inspired me,” White said. “I have always loved school; I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait for summer to end.”

White is a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and works summers and weekends in a group home. She is already looking forward to returning to Pembroke in the fall.

“I can’t wait for school to start, but I come back to Pembroke often in the summer,” said White. “I attended Lumbee Homecoming for the first time this summer.”

White expects to dive back into her studies and extracurricular activities, including membership in the Esther G. Maynor Honors College. She will run for office again on the Student Government Association, where she was a member of the Executive Committee. White is also a member of the Panhellenic Council.

Marian Drane Graham, whose name is attached to the program, was the wife of former U.S. Senator and first president of the consolidated UNC system Frank Porter Graham. Graham led UNC from 1930 to 1949.