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 Emily Drake, Class of 2018
Majors: Environmental Science and Peace, War, and Defense
What do you like most about ROTC?
For me, the best parts of ROTC are obviously the people. I get to know some amazing students who are interested in the same stuff I am. I’ve met not just students but also officers and enlisted people who will be mentors for the rest of my life in all walks of life.
What kind of opportunities has the UNC ROTC provided?
I went to Morocco this summer for 8 weeks on a fully paid-for study abroad program. I have friends who have studied in Germany, Comoros, Jordan, all over the world through the Army, and it’s all paid for. Being out of state, 100% of my tuition is covered, I get a book stipend and monthly stipend, and I also get some really amazing training opportunities. After I graduate, I can have a full time job if I want, or if I want to go to grad school, I’ll have a part time job on the weekends. It’s all because of the U.S. Army.
I will say hands down, the people who come out of ROTC are better prepared and better leaders than anyone else in the country. It’s an amazing program and the Tar Heel battalion are like family to me.
I chose Carolina because I’m from New Jersey, and the weather down here is way, way nicer. I’ve also lived in the same house for 18 years of my life and I came here not knowing anyone. It forced me to grow, and there’s no better place to grow than Carolina. The people are amazing, the campus is gorgeous, and the teachers here will do absolutely anything and everything for you.
Tell us about yourself!
I graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in African, African-American, and Diaspora Studies. Currently, I am a director at a company called Royce which brings unique experiences to the world of fashion accessories. I’ve been featured by The New York TImes, NBC’s Today, and Glamour Magazine for creating an innovative location-based tracking device placed in wallets, so you never lose your valuables again. We’ve sold this product to retailers like Selfridges and proudly have our own shop at 424 5th Avenue, New York in Lord and Taylor.
Additionally, I am a partner at a tech company providing thousands of language interpreters across 220 languages on-demand through an IOS and Android mobile application called OPI Translate. Most recently, we provided our donated our interpretation services to HIAS, the oldest refugee resettlement agency in North America.
How has Carolina prepared you for post-grad life?
The most influential experiences at UNC Chapel Hill were in the African, African-American, and Diaspora Studies Department with mentoring from professors like Professor Robert Porter, Dr. Kenneth Janken, Dr. Charlene Regester and Dr. Eunice Sahle. These passionate academics taught me to analyze the dynamics of power and how its constructions are manipulated to help or hurt different communities depending on race, class and ideology.
How has Carolina helped you with your personal goals?
Carolina has transformed many of my personal goals into collective goals. I graduated from this University with humility and critical reflection on my role in leading more inclusive action within our world. One of the shortcomings of our society is we focus on our personal development without reflecting on how we positively or negatively impact the environments we occupy. In the future, I want to better listen to the needs of people within my community, so I personally can become a more respectful and inspiring leader.
Carolina is a determined community of activists on a quest for social change. Our students question close-minded coercion, we search for cohesive coalitions, and we use the fluidity of our liberal arts education to mobilize responsible action.
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