Student Support

Supporting Middle-Income Families

The Blue Sky Scholars Program give scholarship support to middle-income parents and students.

Junior Brenda Palacios Rodriguez poses for a portrait in the Coker Arboretum.

The Blue Sky Scholars Program give scholarship support to middle-income parents and students.

The Vision

The Blue Sky Scholars Program started as the vision of Erskine Bowles ’67, who recalled meeting with hard-working, middle-income parents during his tenure as UNC System president. Many felt that college was out of reach for their children because of cost.

“What they couldn’t live with is that they felt their own children were going to miss their shot at the American Dream, that they weren’t going to be able to afford to go to college,” Bowles said. “So I decided to do something about this.”

Established in 2018 with an initial gift from Bowles and expanded through gifts from hundreds of donors, the Blue Sky Scholars Program gives Carolina students from middle-income, North Carolina families scholarship support, work-study employment opportunities, an enrichment award to support internship or study abroad opportunities, and access to academic, personal and career support. As of the start of the 2022-23 academic year, 40 Carolina students had received Blue Sky Scholarships.

Pursuing Passions

Brenda Palacios Rodriguez ’24 said her Mayan heritage instilled an appreciation for nature and its ability to foster reflection and mental wellness. As a first-generation student, she discovered that majoring in environmental studies and art would blend her passion for green spaces and creativity that speaks to people. She plans to pursue a career in landscape architecture, focusing on outdoor spaces and greenways that help people find connection with nature, especially during unique or challenging times.

The Blue Sky Scholarship is helping her follow those passions and partake in career-enhancing experiences such as studying abroad in northern Spain, where she took art classes and hiked the ancient Camino de Santiago.

“It was a life-opening opportunity,” Palacios Rodriguez said. “I was able to understand more about myself and think about how I can have an impact. It helped me understand what lies ahead, and it wouldn’t have been possible without my scholarship.”

Making a Difference

As one of the very first students to be awarded a Blue Sky Scholarship, Delancy Allred ’20 knew she wanted to pursue a career that would help students and teachers. Having grown up in a family of teachers in Jamestown, North Carolina, Allred had always placed a high value on education.

The Blue Sky Scholars Program helped her participate in an honors seminar in Washington, D.C., where she also interned at the Autism Society of America (ASA). After graduating, Allred served as a special education teacher in Baltimore Public Schools and then returned to ASA as a policy coordinator.

“The internship led to a full-time position in an organization where I can make a difference,” Allred said. “The way my life has turned out wouldn’t have been possible without the Blue Sky Scholars program.”

Readers Also Viewed...

Sonny Griffith seated at a table in a library in front of a laptop
Student Support

Following the Narrative

A Carolina Covenant Scholar pursues career-enhancing experiences through the Career Accelerator Program.

Ana Zurita Posas, Scott Hamilton, and Kevin Guskiewicz stand laughing at the Golden LEAF Luncheon
Student Support

Supporting North Carolina’s Rural Communities

Golden LEAF Scholarship increases opportunities for rural North Carolinians

David Routh stands in the center of his family holding the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award with Eddie Smith Field in the background.
Student Support

‘Uplifting future generations’

The David and Jenny Routh Blue Sky Scholars Fund honoring the vice chancellor for development and his wife will support 12 students a year in perpetuity.

Portrait of Alex Acosta
Student Support

‘Where I’m Meant to Be’

The third of four children, Alex Acosta '24 talks about how the Carolina Covenant opens doors and provides support.


Focused on Career Development

Rick Margerison ’70, along with his wife Leah, is still finding new ways to pay it forward.

Student Support

The Fruits of Our Efforts

A letter from Candice Powell, the director of Carolina Covenant