By Scott Diekema, Morehead-Cain Scholar from the Class of 2019
A few weeks into my freshman year, Keegan McBride (Class of 2017) approached me with a radical idea – opening an entirely student-run café in the Campus Y, UNC’s Center for Social Justice. The concept was not novel; I soon learned that students had been toying with the idea for almost seven years. The reoccurring issue, however, was that each time a business plan was developed, the student team would graduate before they could bring it to fruition. With four years ahead of me, I, alongside Keegan and Lauren Eaves (Class of 2018), was in a position to make this vision a reality.
For the remainder of the fall semester last year, our team conducted market research and began putting together a business plan for The Meantime Coffee Company, an entirely student-run, non-profit coffee shop. Our first big break came at the start of the spring semester, when we were selected to be a CUBE venture. The CUBE is UNC’s Social Innovation Initiative, and as a participant in its social incubator, each venture receives mentorship and training from local entrepreneurs as well as $5,000 in seed capital. The CUBE lifted us out of the planning stage and guided us in taking concrete steps towards executing on our idea.
Lauren Eaves and I stayed in Chapel Hill this past summer to bring the project to life. We first met with campus administrators to secure the physical location in the Campus Y lobby and then began designing and building the space. Next came our legal identity; for this task, we partnered with the Chapel Hill Chamber of Commerce, which offers pro-bono legal and financial advice for local non-profits in an effort to promote social entrepreneurship in greater Chapel Hill. On a quest for the highest-quality beans, we chose Carrboro Coffee Roasters as our wholesale supplier, a mission-oriented roastery just down the road. In addition to supplying beans, they helped us build out our product plan and find all the necessary equipment. The last task of our summer was securing additional funding; we were very fortunate to receive grants from the Campus Y as well as the Food For All Steering Committee, the governing body of UNC’s current academic theme.
The Meantime opened on September 12 and took off like we never could have imagined. The line of customers stretched out the door, and within days we were going through more volume than almost any other coffee shop in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area. This was a hectic but rewarding time for our team, as we worked to keep up with the overwhelming demand. There were many pivots in that first month, for we learned that The Meantime had to operate on an entirely different scale than what we had expected. Eleven weeks after our launch, we’re ready to look ahead and reassess how The Meantime can maximize its positive impact on UNC’s campus. All of The Meantime’s residual profits are reinvested back into UNC students in the form of scholarships and grants, and we expect to announce our first major grant within the next few months.
As an Economics and Asian Studies double major with a minor in Entrepreneurship, I have found The Meantime to be an in-depth, practical application of what I’m learning in the classroom. I can speak on behalf of my team when I say that this has been an incredibly rewarding experience for all of us, and I cannot wait to see future Meantime employees benefit in the same way. While UNC students built The Meantime from the ground up, it would not have been possible without the incredible resources afforded to us by UNC-Chapel Hill and the greater Triangle community. This University is working within the Triangle’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem to position itself as a hub of student innovation nationwide. As a student entrepreneur, there is no place I’d rather be.
Meet alumna Chelsea Barnes, graduate of the Class of 2015 and current J.D. candidate in the UNC School of Law.
As a current law student and former undergraduate, I am what we affectionately call a “Double Tar Heel.”
I find a sense of pride in saying this now, but if you had asked me if I would be here five years ago there is a strong possibility I would have told you, “I don’t know.”
I am a citizen of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and grew up in a small town about 30 minutes outside of my tribal community. Though I excelled in high school, I still had those pre-application jitters that many of you may be all too familiar with. As I look back on my senior year of high school, I remember being nervous about whether or not I would get into Carolina and if I did, what it would be like when I got there. Very few people where I was from went to college and of those that did, few went to schools like Carolina. In some ways, it felt out of reach.
When I got my acceptance letter, I was ecstatic. I entered my first year at Carolina hopeful about what the future would bring. Once I got there, however, I soon realized that I would need to find a support system. I floundered (to say the least) during my first semester and questioned whether or not I really belonged. My initial support system was Alpha Pi Omega, a Native American interest sorority. During my first months at Carolina, the women within the sorority reached out to me and ensured me that I was welcome and supported. When I later joined the sorority during my sophomore year, I learned that its very purpose was to serve as a support for college women in today’s society.
Though I had grown up outside of my tribal community, I was beginning to find my home at Carolina. Becoming a sister of the sorority led me to other opportunities, including becoming more involved with the Carolina Indian Circle (CIC), UNC’s undergraduate Native student group. I had the pleasure of serving as the president of CIC for two years. In the process, I learned so much about myself, my culture, and how to be a leader.
My involvement in these organizations led me to a myriad of other opportunities during my time as an undergraduate. I had the opportunity to work as an intern for Congressman Tom Cole through the Udall Foundation and was an honorable mention for the Udall Scholarship. I had the opportunity to serve on committees and work with university officials to plan events. I got to know other leaders of student organizations and work with them in efforts to make Carolina a place that would seek to embrace diversity wholeheartedly. Though I worked hard to earn these opportunities, I wouldn’t have gotten there without the support system I established within the Native community at Carolina.
Despite my initial academic struggles and issues I faced during my first year at Carolina, my support system within the Native community enabled me to excel both personally and academically. The network I created provided me with the support I needed to apply to law school and the confidence to do so. In some ways, not much has changed. I am currently serving as the president of the Native American Law Students’ Association and working with other members of our organization to think of ways we can increase enrollment of Native students at the law school.
As I think back to my experience as an undergraduate, I am humbled by the opportunities I was given. As a Native American female from a small town in eastern North Carolina, there are many (including myself) who wouldn’t have predicted that I would be where I am today. All of this goes to show that with lots of hard work, finding your support system, and a little bit of fate, things happen exactly as they are supposed to. My name is Chelsea Barnes, and I am a (double) Tar Heel.
UNC is undeniably a community centered around the value of public service. As a public university, our students, staff and faculty all work to improve the lives of others, whether in their academic fields or simply offer their time to volunteer outside of the classroom. Many of these efforts go without thanks or are done with anonymity.
But at the annual Veteran’s Day ceremony at UNC, ROTC cadets, veterans, faculty and students joined to thank past, current and future veterans for their honorable service.
Dr. Bruce Cairns, chair of the faculty and a distinguished surgery professor, is a veteran of the U.S. navy and spoke at the memorial service.
Sharing the words of Frank Porter Graham, former UNC president and North Carolina senator, Dr. Cairns reminded us that the Chapel Hill campus was based on and continues to be a university for serving others above all else.
While first spoken in 1931 but remaining true today, Graham said, “In Chapel Hill among a friendly folk, this old university, the first state university to open its doors, stands on a hill set in the midst of beautiful forests under the skies that give their color and their charm to the life of youth gathered here… there is music in the air of the place.”
This past weekend, thousands of Tar Heels came home.
UNC homecoming means going back to where it all began. Where that professor forever changed your perspective, where you met lifelong friends, and where you first had that idea that led you down a more fulfilling path than you could’ve imagined.
Enrolling at Carolina means entering a vast support system of not only the resources to get you where you want to go, but also the people who genuinely care about how you get there. Of course leaving Carolina is bittersweet, but graduates can go out into the “real world” with the confidence to take on any challenge they face with that unwavering support.
UNC alumni always say how having that Carolina connection helped them find and land a job, or make friends in a new city. But above all, being a Carolina grad means having a common bond with an impressive group of people who, in whatever way they can, are changing the world.
Of the class of 2015, 90 percent reported being employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation. And you’ll find those grads working at top-notch companies around the world, including Google. Facebook, General Electric, or nonprofits, such as Teach for America and Americorps.
Our graduates are making a difference all over the world, from performing groundbreaking research in North Carolina to creating innovative businesses and nonprofits on multiple continents.
Whatever your plans are or however they change, UNC’s alumni network is not just expansive – it’s strong. People will drop everything and go out of their way to help out another Tar Heel, and that’s an invaluable asset to have throughout your life.
There’s a bond you get from lining up at the Old Well for a drink on the first day of classes, from passionately cheering on the Heels and just as passionately rooting against the Blue Devils, from sitting out on the quad during our perfect Chapel Hill fall, and from that feeling you get when you hear the Bell Tower chime after you’ve been away for a long time.
But even when you leave, being an alumnus of UNC-Chapel Hill means that no matter where you go, you’ll always have other Tar Heels you can lean on, and you’ll always be home.
Here at Carolina, amazing opportunities are all around you. You just have to choose which ones are best for you!
Hopefully you’ve already heard about this opportunity, but with the help of Jennifer Sato and her story, we get to take a closer look at Excel@Carolina!
Hometown: Lexington, KY
Year: I am a first-year student at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.
Major: Chemistry & Music with a minor in Hispanic Studies.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve been able to do through Excel@Carolina?
Through the Study Abroad Summer Fellowship of Excel@Carolina, I studied Organic Chemistry and Spanish in Seville, Spain. My spanish improved as I lived with a family while there, and I enjoyed my time living in such a vibrant city. After my summer course, I traveled through Southern Spain and Morocco.
How has Excel@Carolina helped you excel at Carolina?
I was in the Assured Admission Program for the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy through Excel@Carolina. It enabled me to pursue absolutely everything I wanted to do during my undergraduate years. I explored my passions and interests in the arts while also pursuing the sciences. Not many people can say they studied abroad twice – chemistry in Seville, Spain and art history in Edinburgh, Scotland – and then started school at the #1 pharmacy school in the nation. I was able to establish connections prior to starting school and Excel@Carolina and the Assured Admission Program provided me the resources and faculty support for a smooth transition from undergraduate to professional school.
Why should students consider Excel@Carolina?
Excel@Carolina is tailored for each student and offers extensive opportunities, but also university support in pursuing academic interests. From my experience, Excel@Carolina gave me security in knowing that I had great academic support while also enabling me with the flexibility to pursue my non-academic interests. College is the time to explore anything, and everything, and Excel@Carolina helps every step of the way.
Just for fun—what’s your favorite Carolina moment?
As a first-year, I was lucky enough to get a ticket to the Duke-UNC game in 2014. The game was postponed due to a snowstorm and after the long wait, UNC beat Duke! I remember celebrating on the court in the Dean Dome and then running up to Franklin Street with friends. There’s nothing that makes you feel more connected to the UNC community than celebrating a big win on Franklin Street!
This November we’re delighted to celebrate American Indian Heritage Month, along with the student groups, faculty and staff who support the Native American community on the Carolina campus.
The special events throughout the month range from a Culture Night & Fashion Show to discussions on indigenous foodways. You’re welcome to attend any event that interests you. Be sure to check dates and locations on the American Indian Center calendar.
If you’re interested in studying American Indian issues on an academic level, you’ve come to the right place. Carolina is one of only two schools that offer American Indian and Indigenous People’s Studies as a major.
Even as a non-major you’re welcome to explore these issues in courses, including through First-Year Seminars. Those are the classes that are only open to first-years and take on unique themes in any department, and they’re a great opportunity to knock out some general education requirements with a fun and interesting topic that you might not be able to take a class in otherwise. They change each semester, but this past fall there were seminars on American Indians in History, Law and Literature and on American Indian Art in the 20th Century.
There are also plenty of ways you can get involved with the American Indian community year-round, especially thanks to events through the American Indian Center, Alpha Pi Omega, the nation’s first Native American interest sorority, and the Carolina Indian Circle student group.
No matter your background, we hope that you feel at home at Carolina. Being a student here means being a part of an all-inclusive family, and we’re excited to see how the next class of incoming students will not only feel welcome but also add all of your unique perspectives and ideas to our UNC community.