Innovation Scholars

The Carolina Innovation Scholarships are intended to provide scholars with a rich and diverse educational experience including connections to a wide and growing network of entrepreneurs and organizations, all designed to support their entrepreneurial aspirations.  Backed by the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid and linked with the Minor in Entrepreneurship in the College of Arts & Sciences, scholars are prepared to invent solutions and create value, whether in commerce, science, society, or the arts.  Each scholar is guaranteed acceptance into the College’s Minor in Entrepreneurship, as well as key courses including a First Year Seminar on Entrepreneurship and university-wide Introduction to Entrepreneurship. Mentoring, coaching and assistance with placement into internship and externships throughout their Carolina career complement the program’s curricular components.

There is no stand-alone application for the Innovation Scholarships at this time. Candidates are chosen from those invited to Explore Carolina held each spring.

The awards cover full tuition, room, board, and fees at Carolina, as determined by the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid. Awards are renewable for four years.

Ellie Kravets- New Orleans, LA

Ellie Kravets- New Orleans, LA

Senior/Biology

What have you enjoyed about being an Innovation Scholar? I enjoy that Innovation is a small program, so I know most of its participants and feel like an important addition to the group. In addition to the other Innovation scholars, I know the professors and university staff who work to ensure the success of the program and its students.

How have you used your summer enrichment funding? Summer enrichment allowed me to go to Montana in 2014 for a rigorous field course experience outside of Glacier National Park. Last summer I used enrichment money to cover my living expenses while I held an internship to costume rear Mississippi sandhill crane chicks. Both experiences have proven highly formative for my career goals, and Innovation made them possible.

Ali Hasan- Concord, NC

Ali Hasan- Concord, NC

Senior/Applied Mathematics

How have you used your summer enrichment funding?  "I went to Boston for a machine learning conference."

Why did you attend UNC? "Liberal arts education because you're exposed to things you normally wouldn't be."

Eliza Filene- Carrboro, NC

Eliza Filene- Carrboro, NC

Junior/Public Policy

About Eliza:   "I work as an undergraduate research assistant at the UNC AIDS Clinical Trials Unit. I am also a student delegate to UNC Faculty Council, where I work to bring the student perspective to university policy-making. After working at a start-up company in Shanghai, I became interested in how entrepreneurship and public health fields can address health disparities in the U.S. and abroad."

What have you enjoyed about being an Innovation Scholar? " Having a home base here at UNC was instrumental in making me feel at home right from the beginning of my first year—I know that on any given day I can come to the entrepreneurship suite and receive kindness and support from the fantastic people who run the program. This is what I am most grateful for."

Ritam Chakraborty- Chapel Hill, NC

Ritam Chakraborty- Chapel Hill, NC

Junior/Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems

About Ritam: "I'm working on growing food in unused spaces to strengthen our local food system alongside the Chapel Hill community. I also enjoy practicing yoga, climbing mountains, meeting strangers, watching foreign films, asking questions, and finding and fixing inefficiencies."

What have you enjoyed about being an Innovation Scholar? "It's nice to feel included in the E Minor community even though I'm not interested in doing the minor. I have met some really good people and been given some really amazing opportunities. It's comforting to know that I can come to the professors for support on any projects, to talk about the weather, and get connected to other people on campus."

Daniel Stratton- Chapel Hill, NC

Daniel Stratton- Chapel Hill, NC

Sophomore/Computer Science

About Daniel: "I am pursing a career at the intersection of Computer Science and Business, hopefully working at a startup or maybe even my own startup one day.  I was and am involved in local startups here in Chapel Hill. .I love to travel and take a lot of road trips with friends on weekends while at school. I'm also a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo & Hapkido, and I like to play pop music on the violin."

What have you enjoyed about being an Innovation Scholar? "I've enjoyed the freedom that comes with being an Innovation Scholar. Innovation is found in every field, and so unlike other scholarships that tend to restrict your area of study or make you stick out, I feel that being an Innovation Scholar really gives you the freedom to focus on wherever your passion is."

Kaya Hedt- Asheville, NC

Kaya Hedt- Asheville, NC

Sophomore/Mathemetics Major

About Kaya: "So far I've used my freshmen year to explore my options at UNC and regain balance after a few very busy high school years. I've really enjoyed taking first year seminars in subjects I didn't even know existed and making school fun for myself."

What have you enjoyed about being an Innovation Scholar? "I'm really enjoying the entrepreneurship First Year Seminar with Buck Goldstein and Charles Merritt. It's completely different from any class I've ever taken and I absolutely love the way it mixes creativity and practicality."

Varun Amesur- Hillsborough, NJ

Varun Amesur- Hillsborough, NJ

Sophomore/Business Administration

What have you enjoyed about UNC? "In my first year so far, I've had the pleasure to meet some very talented folks. As a First Year representative on the Student Advisory Committee to the Chancellor, a committee that serves on the Executive Branch of Student Government, I've connected with the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, and a few key leaders on campus to ensure that student voice is heard across Carolina. My involvement with Innovate @ Carolina has let me network with intending and established entrepreneurs in social and commercial tracks. Hearing their stories has inspired me to think of ways I can truly make an impact at UNC."

What have you enjoyed about being an Innovation Scholar?  "As an Innovation Scholar, I've had the privilege to work and connect with some of the most talented people I've met. From the entrepreneurs in residence to the professors of practice, I've shared and heard stories that have redefined how I think of start-up, innovation, and forward thinking. Having access to these resources and a community of eager game-changers is one of the best perks of being an Innovation Scholar. You'll always know someone that has worked in the industry you're looking to disrupt."

Taylor Weckstein- Traverse City, MI

Taylor Weckstein- Traverse City, MI

First Year/Environmental Science

What about UNC and the Innovation Scholars Program are you most excited about? "I'm most excited to broaden my interests and explore entrepreneurship with mentors to guide me.  It would be great if I could hone entrepreneurial skills and apply them to better the Chapel Hill community. I'm also looking forward to summer opportunities provided by the program."

Tell us more about yourself: "I've done community service work through G1FT (a non-profit Taylor founded!) and as an adaptive ski coach. I have a passion for science and how that relates to my interest in alleviating health inequities and/or reducing our impact on climate change. My other miscellaneous hobbies including my love for running, tennis, skiing, and kite boarding."

Holland Blumer- Charlotte, NC

Holland Blumer- Charlotte, NC

First Year/Business Administration or Economics

Why did you decide to attend UNC? "I picked UNC because I love the ambitious, passionate, successful yet humble people working here. UNC's academic-focused and positive environment will for sure help me thrive as an entrepreneur."

Tell us more about your entrepreneurial journey? "My fashion interest led to an internship with Melvin Jewelry. During this internship, I managed inventory and designed jewelry. With the hands-on experience and business knowledge gained at Melvin, I founded Dewey Holland, and active-wear jewelry business. I attended MIT Launch in 2015 and co-founded Cleo, an e-commerce business with a plug-in platform that compiles online shopping carts from high-end apparel retailers into one universal cart for checkout. Also, at MIT Launch, my roommate and I founded Girls of 2morrow, a national support group for high school girls battling stereotypes to get involved in STEM subjects."