Campus News

The Carolina Covenant in action

Candice Powell, director of the Carolina Covenant, reflects on the program’s impact and looks ahead to its future.

Two graduates hug at commencement near a banner reading
Two graduates celebrate at the 2019 Spring Commencement at Kenan Memorial Stadium. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Since the first class of scholars enrolled in 2004, the Carolina Covenant has been awarded to more than 8,900 students whose contributions and successes are, collectively, a testament to the University’s unwavering commitment to excellence.

Through a combination of grants, scholarships and work-study jobs, the Carolina Covenant provides eligible low-income students the opportunity to graduate from Carolina debt-free. In return, Covenant Scholars bring to UNC-Chapel Hill strengths and talents that are critical to the University’s mission to serve as a center for research, scholarship and creativity and critical to its goal of teaching the next generation of leaders. When the University attracts the highest talent and the greatest diversity of views and backgrounds to Carolina, all students benefit, not just Covenant Scholars.

“As we reflect on the impact the Carolina Covenant has had on thousands of students over the past two decades, we are also celebrating how the University has benefited from the perspectives, skills, knowledge and wisdom these scholars bring to Carolina,” said Candice Powell, director of the Carolina Covenant.

“Each and every scholar is an asset to our institution — not in spite of where they came from but because of where they come from.”

Big plans for the Covenant

Powell was named director of the Carolina Covenant in August 2019, and she has big plans for the Covenant’s future.

“At this point, we’ve observed an entire generation of students come through the program,” she said. “I can’t think of a better time to reassess and consider how students’ needs and circumstances have changed as we study the impact of the Covenant.”

Powell shared that the key components of this reassessment include research, evaluation and investment — but, most of all, it involves listening.

“What does it mean to invest in a life like this? What happens when a world-class education is accessed by a talented person who just happens to come from a low-income background?”

“We are in the process of developing a qualitative study, where we ask students who they say they are,” emphasized Powell.

The Carolina Covenant Program also convened a new Student Advisory Council, which consists of 10 outstanding students selected from more than 70 applicants.

“These are students who want to be involved in helping to set the vision of the Covenant and impact the experience of their peers and future generations,” added Powell. “For us, the Covenant is our students and the commitment that so many have made to Carolina. The students should be our partners in everything we do.”

Current need in the wake of COVID-19

More than one in 10 students at Carolina are Covenant Scholars, and Powell expects students’ financial needs to increase tremendously in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Already, the University anticipates needing up to an additional $15 million in aid in 2021–22, which would represent an 18% increase over the prior year.

“It’s especially critical that we do everything we can to attract high-achieving students to our institution and to support them, regardless of their financial circumstances,” said Powell. “The benefit of the Covenant is that it is not just financial aid. It’s a facilitator of high-impact opportunities and connections that help students apply their talents and gifts in a way that will help them fulfill their purpose in the wider world that we all share.”

Learn about six Carolina Covenant Scholars making an impact on campus and the world.

Maria Tiznado: “An asset to our institution”

When Candice Powell, director of the Carolina Covenant, says, “Each and every Covenant Scholar is an asset to our institution — not in spite of where they come from but because of where they come from,” she likely has students like Maria Tiznado ’22 in mind. Read more.

Maria Tiznado

Noah Miller: Clear goals, Carolina memories

Noah Miller ’19 was determined to attend Carolina even without financial aid, but receiving the Carolina Covenant Scholarship and the Johnston Scholarship made his decision all the sweeter. Read more.

Noah Miller

Jacky Zheng: Carrying the torch

Jacky Zheng ’19 hadn’t been born when his parents emigrated from China to the small town of Perry, New York, but he was one of the reasons they risked the trip. Like so many parents, the Zhengs hoped to provide their children with more than they’d had — a steady income, a strong education, a measure of certainty about the future. Read more.

Jacky Zheng.

Lorenzo Hopper: Resources for success

Lorenzo Hopper ’10, ’20, professor at UNC Charlotte, recently earned his Ph.D. from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Ten years ago, he graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill as a Carolina Covenant Scholar. He credits the Carolina Covenant for the career path he’s on today. Read more.

Lorenzo Hopper

Patsy Montesinos: A ProPublica emerging reporter

Carolina Covenant Scholar Patsy Montesinos ’21 is one of five 2019-20 ProPublica Emerging Reporters. Read more.

Patsy Montesinos.

Jessica Redmond: The Carolina Covenant comes full circle

High school counselor Jessica Redmond ’13 gives back every day through her chosen career. Read more.

Jessica Redmond

Support students through the Carolina Covenant by making an online gift today.