PEMBROKE — Cotrayia Hardison, the SGA president at UNC Pembroke, will earn a degree in political science at spring commencement next week and has chosen to further her studies in her hometown at Elon University.
Hardison is the first UNCP graduate to be accepted to the Master of Arts in Higher Education program at Elon. She will be a graduate apprentice for the Center for Designed Thinking. Hardison has also been awarded the Dean’s Scholarship at Elon.
She will be a member of the fourth MHE cohort. The program was established in fall 2018 and is highly selective as only 12 students are admitted each year.
A Greensboro native, Hardison said she is eager to begin the next chapter of her academic career.
“I plan to pursue a career in higher education,” she said. “I’ve always been passionate about helping others and creating change.”
Since her freshman year, Hardison has utilized her various leadership roles across campus and at the UNC System-level to advocate for positive change. In addition to her years of commitment to the Student Government Association, she represented UNCP as an appointed member of the University of North Carolina System Association of Student Governments during her sophomore year. She was a LEAD Fellow and member of UNCP’s chapters of the National Council of Negro Women and NAACP. As part of her role as SGA president, she also held a seat on the university’s Board of Trustees.
Last week, the Office of Civic and Community Engagement presented her with the Outstanding Leader of the Year, the highest individual student award at UNCP.
Hardison has her sights on a career as an administrator in higher education with aspirations of advancing as a vice chancellor and, one day, chancellor. As a future administrator, one of her career goals is to be in a position to help retain college students of color and, ultimately, close that achievement gap.
“I want to be able to be a part of the decision-making that makes the difference in students graduating and being successful,” she said.
“UNCP has changed my life, helped me identify my purpose and has developed me into the woman that I am today. I am forever indebted to all those here who have impacted my life and helped me get where I am.”