Meet Dr. Clemens (pictured left), an astrophysicist and faculty member at Carolina.
When I was young I disliked the question: “What do you want to do when you grow up?” I was curious about everything, and I didn’t want to settle on one subject. When I got an undergraduate degree in astrophysics and decided to go on to graduate school in astronomy, I was still in search of a way to study everything— the whole universe. When my first serious research project took me to the telescopes at McDonald Observatory, I found a passion for the gears, the grease, and the glass that extend our sight deep into the heavens, and I later came to Carolina to help build instrumentation that now measures the composition of crushed-up exoplanets as they fall onto burned-out stars.
But I did not lose my interest in everything else, and am excited every year to meet students at Carolina who are passionate about learning, both in the classroom and outside. The most interesting questions are still the ones science alone cannot answer. Who made all this? Why is it here? What are we supposed to do in it? For the eternally curious, the answers unfold over a lifetime, but the searching and learning are never more intense than in the four years spent as an undergraduate. Carolina students like to read and think deeply, and they are ready for challenging ideas. I try to contribute to this in the classroom by incorporating the humanities, especially history, into my work. Outside the classroom I am very open about my Christian faith and the ways in which I find it not only compatible with science but preceding it and standing under it.
I am delighted to live and work in a the great public university where students and faculty ask big questions and seek answers that are genuine and truthful.
Carolina alumni encourage and inspire us year after year. Learn how Charles McMillan’s Carolina education helped him reach his goals and how he is making the world a safer place – from the barracks to the classroom.
Charles McMillan, Class of 2015
2010: Leaves the U.S. Army with an honorable discharge and enrolls at Fayetteville Technical Community College with his eye on Carolina.
2013: Transfers to Carolina through the Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program (C-STEP), which provides a clear pathway from community college to Carolina with continuous support.
2014: Selects Peace, War, and Defense (PWAD) as his major, combining his passion for national security and experiences in the military.
2015: Graduates from Carolina and lands a job working with government agencies at Oracle, a computer technology corporation.
Today: Continues his education at Johns Hopkins University working toward his master’s degree in Global Security Studies. “Graduating from UNC and being surrounded by some of the brightest minds in the country gave me the knowledge and confidence to succeed in academia.”
Meet Gabriela Frazelle, a senior at Carolina from Florida.
I found my first “faith home” in Chapel Hill. Wherever I may go in life I will always think of Chapel Hill to remind me to root myself in faith — specifically, a crosswalk on Franklin Street that bears a sign with the message, “Walk with the light.” Whenever I see this I always think about how everywhere we go we should be walking with the light of Jesus. I go to a church called “Love Chapel Hill” where we say, “Our name is our mission — to love Chapel Hill with the heart of Jesus.”
Going to a school like UNC, it is easy to think about everything in terms of Chapel Hill and Tar Heels. I like going to a church that takes this philosophy and translates it into pouring into the community that is so special to us. Our “church” is really a movie theatre on Franklin Street- a purposeful choice from our leaders to ensure that we are at the center of town—accessible to students and “townies” alike.
Every Valentine’s Day, we give out flowers to show people that they are loved; every August we hold church service at the Old Well to remind ourselves that we are a part of the Chapel Hill community; and every winter we collect coats to give to those who need help staying warm.
Since joining Love Chapel Hill, my faith has matured tremendously. I have been able to join Bible studies that help me to learn about the Word, and I have been a part of community outreach that helps me put the Word into actions. Love Chapel Hill has taught me that caring for the community around you is a big part of sharing the love of Jesus with the world.
You can’t separate “the University of North Carolina” from the fact that we are “at Chapel Hill.” The town and the school are linked, each thriving off the other; it’s one of the most special things about this place. Love Chapel Hill celebrates this wonderful city through our love for Jesus Christ. I consider myself very blessed that my four years at Carolina were intertwined with my four years at Love, two places that will always represent some of the best years of my life.
|Carolina students come from a variety of religious backgrounds and faiths. Like Gabrielle, many choose to to continue their spiritual journeys at Carolina through organizations on campus or in the local community. Have a story? We regularly feature different perspectives from Carolina students and invite you to share yours.