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BHS grad honored

Elinor Benami, a 2006 Bearden High School graduate and a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sophomore, has received a Morris K. Udall Undergraduate Scholarship.

The Udall scholarship is one of the nation’s top 10 merit awards and will cover tuition, books and room and board for up to $5,000 for her junior year.

Benami, daughter of Mary and Moti Benami of Knoxville, is pursuing a double major in international studies and economics at UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

She said, “Through my work, as well as through positive civic engagement within the communities where I live, I hope to encourage an understanding of how environmental issues have ramifications on many other significant issues in the world. Those issues can include poverty, conflict, health, transportation, urban planning, food production and consumption, agricultural systems and more.

“The environment should be considered holistically with those issues,” Benami added.

The Morris K. Udall Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental Policy Foundation in Tucson, Ariz., chose 80 scholars this year from among 510 candidates nominated by 239 colleges and universities nationwide.

Scholars are chosen for commitment to careers in the environment or, for American Indian and Alaskan native applicants, commitment to careers in health care or tribal public policy. Scholars also must demonstrate leadership potential and academic achievement.

Congress authorized the Udall Foundation in 1992 to honor the late Congressman from Arizona. A trust fund in the U.S. Treasury and private contributions support the foundation. Udall, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1961-1991, advocated environmental conservation and championed the rights of American Indians and Alaska natives.

Benami has been on the dean’s list every semester at UNC. She is in the honors program and N.C. Fellows, a leadership development program.

Her many activities include interning for the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Battle Park on campus. She co-chairs the Renewable Energy Special Pro-jects Committee, which manages student fees for renewable energy projects on campus.

Benami has set her sights on graduating as one of UNC’s public service scholars — students with notes of distinction on their diplomas for having performed impressive amounts of community service during their time at UNC.

She intends to seek graduate degrees in environmental resource economics and policy. Already, she has studied abroad, in Germany during high school and last summer in Southeast Asia. Both experiences were funded by merit scholarships.

“A leader on campus in student government’s renewable energy initiatives, Elinor has made environmental stewardship a priority in her own life and an emerging goal in her graduate and career plans,” said George Lensing, Ph.D., UNC English professor and director of the Office of Distinguished Scholarships. “She will have wonderful opportunities to interact with other Udall scholars who share her passionate commitment,” he added.


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