Meet Christopher Suggs, an incoming Class of 2021 Tar Heel.
Coming from Kinston, North Carolina, Christopher is the founder and CEO of Kinston Teens, an internationally recognized nonprofit with a mission to empower youth through service, leadership and civic engagement.
He was appointed by Gov. McCrory to NC Governor’s Crime Commission to serve as the youngest member of an advisory that addresses issues surrounding crime and justice. At Carolina, he plans to major in political science and aspires to be a policy maker.
“The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a phenomenal school! I’ve been in love with Carolina since 2006, when my older brother’s high school basketball team played in the Dean Dome for the NC High School Men’s Basketball State Championships. From the campus, to the programs, to the student culture, to its alumni, there is so much to love about Carolina, and I truly love it all.
I have a strong passion for service, leadership and advocacy, especially when it comes to serving communities here in North Carolina. From starting my own nonprofit organization to being the youngest appointee to the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission, being a leader and representing my state is something I’m deeply invested in. It’s my hope to continue and expand upon these passions at Carolina.”
Meet Andrew Romza, Class of 2018
Major: Statistical and Operations Research
How did you decide to get involved with ROTC?
I actually didn’t come to college thinking that I was going to be in ROTC. I very much stumbled across it when I saw an advertisement for it in a student bulletin and thought it would be an interesting class. It wasn’t really until I started taking the classes at the Armory that I realized ROTC was much more than any one little paragraph could say. I really got invested in the program, and it became a lifestyle.
What is a day in the life of an ROTC cadet?
On any given week, you’re putting in 10-15 hours of work, which is great. It’s very fulfilling because you’re working with people who share the same passions. For example, I work with my peers in the operations office to plan events for ROTC. It’s very detailed and everything has to come together within the program in order for the cadets to get effective training to become better leaders, to go out into the army, and later into the civilian world to use the experience they gained here to help others and develop them into leaders as well.
What opportunities have you had with ROTC?
ROTC fills my summers. The summer after my sophomore year, I was given the opportunity to train in Mozambique with their military. But like many things in the army, it was not purely military training for that month. It was a week of that, and then a week of building gardens in a section of their capital. Then in the next week, I worked with the US Embassy to teach Mozambicans who have US Citizenship how to speak English.
ROTC is very eclectic. You can find yourself doing classwork one moment, and then going out and running with some cadets the other moment, then traveling all over the world. In the end, ROTC transforms you and makes you a better person. ROTC is the best conduit for developing leadership and developing others at the same time.
I really chose Carolina because of the quality of the education. The statistics department here is one of the best. For me, I got into a number of different schools that had good math and statistics programs, but Carolina just stuck out as as a very unique opportunity to learn both actuarial and optimization skills, of which other colleges only had one or the other.
Meet Sofia Ocegueda
Psychology major and Hispanic Studies minor, on the Pre-Med track.
Involvements on Campus: I’m involved with a lot of mentoring programs, including SOAR, a mentoring program for middle-school Latinos, and NC Sli, a mentoring program for Latino high schoolers. I feel like it’s important to give back to the community and give back the knowledge you acquired, and just let other students know that it’s possible to become a Tar Heel.
Carolina Opportunities: I am a Covenant scholar, and the program really helped me out. They reach out and give advice if you’re feeling troubles here academically. I just had lunch with my advisor at Top of the Hill, and it was really nice talking to him and just telling him what I’m going through to go into the classroom with more confidence.
There’s also work-study, so if you want to work here, it’s definitely possible. I am a research assistant at UNC Hospitals in the Pediatrics division. You get experience interacting with doctors, interacting with other students that may be in the medical field, and learning about research and fields that you may be interested in.
Why Carolina: I chose Carolina because I felt like it was a family, and I wanted to be a part of that Tar Heel spirit. I felt like as a Latina, my story was going to be heard. When I came to visit for the first time, I enjoyed seeing that all the minorities were somehow involved. That’s why I wanted to come here, because I would feel included, and not just put in a separate little circle.
Meet Taylor Edwards, Class of 2017
Hometown: Woodbridge, VA
Why did you join Army ROTC at UNC?
I joined ROTC my junior year, and I really love it. At first I was skeptical because you have to wake up at 5 a.m. and have to devote a lot of time to it, but it really taught me to step outside my comfort zone. It gave me a lot more confidence, and it brought me closer to a lot of people that I may not have otherwise met.
I had a select view of the world and everything around me, but ROTC really opened my eyes to a bigger picture. It focuses on a bigger picture of life, not just what’s right in front of you and what you’ve always known.
What can students expect throughout the program?
For first year you have to take one class per semester, and it’s pretty light, mostly on tactics and what a normal army unit would do. You have physical training (PT) three days a week and one two-hour lab. And there will be that steady progression from your first year to your senior year each semester that you take the classes.
As you progress to the higher classes, it’s more focused on leadership, instead of the tactical aspect of it. You’ll go more in depth about ethics and what you think about policies that are passed in the government. Now as a senior, we talk a lot about leadership, especially what it means to be a good leader. They really help you with your strengths and weaknesses to improve your leadership skills.
I came here for a tour the summer before my senior year of high school and fell in love with the atmosphere, the look of the campus, and the Psychology department with its promise of small, intimate classes and research opportunities. Surprisingly, Carolina offered me more money in scholarships than any of the in-state schools I got into, which was an added bonus on top of my early devotion to going to this school.
Meet Tarik Woods
English and Public Policy double major with a minor in Philosophy
Involvements on Campus: Rules and Judiciary Committee for Student Congress, Carolina for the Kids, Relay for Life, and the International Affairs Committee for the Executive Branch of Student Government.
Best Experience at Carolina (so far): My favorite experiences would just be the sense of community I feel when I publish a new video on an issue here on campus. I try to go around and talk to as many students as possible, and I was able to meet hundreds of new students, get their opinion on issues and situations all around campus. It’s just been an awesome experience for me.
Future Goals: I am big on going into politics one day, and Student Government has been a great place to learn about new people and network and have an interaction with all kinds of clubs on campus.
How Carolina Helped Him: Carolina has definitely been a driving influence on how I see the world. Not just looking through my personal eyes, but also looking through the eyes of others.
Favorite Part of UNC: My favorite part of Carolina would have to be that same sense of community. Carolina almost feels like a town, it feels like a city of people who are all striving towards a common goal. Carolina has definitely made me see that I’m not in this by myself. That education and learning and growing as a person is not something that you do alone, it’s something that you do with a family.
Why Carolina: I picked Carolina because I knew that every single person here was just like me. They were striving for success. They want to do big things. They want to help the world. They want to help their community. They want to build better lives for the next generation. Just like I wanted to do the same. Everyone here is smart, everyone here wants to challenge themselves, and that’s why I picked Carolina, because it was a great community of people who wanted the same thing out of life and achievements that I want.
Austin Helms is a perfect example of how student entrepreneurs can thrive at Carolina. Austin, a senior from Valdese, North Carolina, is an aspiring entrepreneur in the Kenan-Flagler Business School. During his time at UNC, Austin has taken full advantage of Carolina’s entrepreneurial resources and has successfully launched his own venture: Waterless Buddy’s.
The business plan for Waterless Buddy’s was born in Austin’s Intro to Entrepreneurship class. Waterless Buddy’s is a simplified wash-while-you-shop carwash service that’s both convenient and sustainable. Since Waterless Buddy’s uses only cleaning solution and a microfiber cloth, a Waterless Buddy’s carwash saves 45 gallons of water per wash compared to normal car wash services.
Austin has been able to grow and improve his venture thanks to a number of entrepreneurial resources available through UNC and Kenan-Flagler Business School. Austin and his team competed in the 2015 Carolina Challenge and won third-place and valuable seed money for Waterless Buddy’s. In summer 2015, Austin had the opportunity to study social entrepreneurship in South Africa. The Waterless Buddy’s team had the chance to travel to Los Angeles for the 2015 California Dreamin’ business competition. Austin was recently selected to join the Adams Apprenticeship, a program connecting students with successful founders, funders and growth executives. This year, Austin and his partner were tapped to join Launch Chapel Hill, a business-accelerator program that helps students turn young businesses into sustainable enterprises. The opportunities for entrepreneurship are endless, and they’ve helped turn Austin’s class project into a legitimate business.
Austin came to Carolina and launched his own start-up carwash venture. What will be your Carolina creation be?