Skip to main content

WCU Stories

Alumna Annalee Blanks named UNC System Presidential Scholar

Annalee Blanks


Annalee Blanks, a May 2020 graduate of Western Carolina University, has been selected as one of three University of North Carolina System presidential scholars.

Blanks, who graduated from WCU in three years with bachelor of science degrees in history and political science, and a certificate in public history, will begin her one-year appointment in July.

Presidential scholars provide a wide range of professional functions for the UNC system office, including interacting with UNC System Interim President Tom Roper, his senior leadership and members of the UNC Board of Governors. They also contribute and work in areas that include education, public policy, research and data trends that affect higher education.

“I’m excited to do anything and everything I can,” said Blanks, of Southport. “I especially love research.”

Roper said the presidential scholars earn valuable experience in public leadership and provide key assistance to the UNC System. “The program has been a great success, and we are proud of each of these scholars for this great achievement,” he said. “We anticipate a great working relationship with them in the coming year.”

While at WCU, Blanks served as secretary for the Chancellor’s Ambassadors, a course tutor, resident assistant, and held executive positions for Alpha Chi Omega.

“Annalee is the epitome of what it means to be a Chancellor’s Ambassador and a true Catamount,” said Amber McKendrick, WCU special events coordinator and adviser to the Chancellor’s Ambassadors. “She has a natural flair for leadership by creating an atmosphere of certainty and trust among her peers. She is genuine, and has been committed to upholding the values of Western Carolina University. As one of the Ambassador advisers, I have had the pleasure of watching Annalee develop in her leadership roles.”

Scholars were selected from among 2020’s UNC System graduates. Each of the applicants demonstrated leadership skills, intellectual curiosity and a strong interest in higher education and public service. The scholars program goes beyond higher education and career development, exposing participants to the ideals of public service to the state. Scholars see firsthand how education legislation and university policy affect current students and state residents.

Blanks plans to attend law school following the completion of her appointment.

Office of Web Services