Elinor Benami, a junior from Tennessee, has been named the first Eve Marie Carson Scholar at UNC Chapel Hill.
The scholarship will fund a summer experience after her junior year and financial aid for her senior year. The daughter of Mary and Moti Benami of Knoxville, Tenn., Benami graduated from Bearden High School in Knoxville in 2006.
Benami is double-majoring in international studies and economics in the College of Arts and Sciences. She plans a career in environmental consulting.
The Eve Marie Carson Scholarship Executive Committee, composed entirely of students, designed the scholarship program. The value of the award will be the cost of attendance for an in-state student for one year, which varies from year to year.
A separate, selection committee of students, faculty, staff and alumni chose Benami from among 138 qualified applicants. She was selected for her leadership and dedication to environmental issues, as well as her high level of academic performance.
"Elinor was chosen for the breadth and depth of her passion," said senior Andy Woods, director of the scholarship's executive committee. "She has done a ton of work with the environment, and she has demonstrated a commitment to leadership and service while still pursuing her passions."
Carson, a senior from Athens, Ga., and UNC-CH's 2007-2008 student body president, was killed last March. One of her main goals as president was to create a merit-based scholarship for UNC juniors. In her memory, the scholarship was established last year to honor balanced, ambitious students who have shown strong involvement in a leadership role at Carolina and have at least a 3.0 GPA in their first three undergraduate years. The scholarship was named in honor of Carson.
Benami is in the honors program and North Carolina Fellows, a leadership development program. Her activities include interning for the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Battle Park on campus. She co-chairs the Student Government Environmental Affairs Committee, which collaborates with students, faculty and staff to promote key environmental principles, encourage sustainable lifestyles and facilitate cooperation between student environmental groups and the University.
She has her sights set on graduating as one of UNC-CH's public service scholars - students with notes of distinction on their diplomas for having performed impressive amounts of community service during their time at Carolina.
Last year, she was awarded a Morris K. Udall Undergraduate Scholarship, one of the nation's top merit awards, for her leadership potential, academic achievement and commitment to a career in the environment.
Benami has received other merit scholarships that funded study-abroad experiences in Germany during high school and Southeast Asia two summers ago.