Exploring at Carolina

Carolina is allowing me to explore my multiple identities and molding me into who I am and who I will become.

Carolina student Reina Kinnaly.

As a first-generation student, Carolina Covenant scholar, and daughter of a retired Marine, being at Carolina has been a dream come true. Through the Covenant, I don’t have to burden my parents with tuition, and it has been a huge weight off my family. I also love that I’m able to show my brother and sister that they can go to college, too. You’ll find me sharing this same message with middle school students as a volunteer for the First Look program at the UNC Visitors Center!

Since coming to Carolina, I’ve been exploring different pathways. Like many people, I started as a Biology major. Now, I’m studying Exercise and Sport Science and Medical Anthropology and aspire to be in some type of position in the medical field or maybe education or counseling.

I’ve also been able to get involved with organizations that mean a lot to me—the Recreational Women’s Lacrosse and the Pacific Islander Student Association. Lacrosse reminded me of high school since I was part of the first women’s lacrosse team there. The Pacific Islander Student Association was something new for me since I didn’t have anything like it in high school. I’ve always identified the Filipino side of me as Pacific Islander (PI) /Asian, and this organization is a space for PI identifying students on campus to create a community and educate the campus about our culture. People typically assume PI means Hawaii and hula outfits, but it’s a lot more than that. In our meetings, we focus on different topics including the American influence on the Pacific Islands. Most recently, we had a musubi workshop, where we invited people to learn how to make a snack popular in PI culture.


Another aspect I’ve explored at Carolina is learning to share my opinions and ideology. I’m more conservative, and even though it’s not how the majority of students identify here, I feel like we’re able to have productive conversations.


For example, in my cultural diversity class, we have a lot of different perspectives in class, and some of those conversations can get really intense. My professor has really stressed to us that our opinions aren’t wrong even if he doesn’t agree. He’ll let us have free rein of the conversation but will jump in if it starts to get too intense. I feel like listening to everyone else has allowed me to become more conscious, and I’m picking and choosing what makes sense to me instead of adopting one, single ideology.

It’s been the biggest blessing to be here. Carolina is allowing me to explore my multiple identities and molding me into who I am and will become.

Written by Reina Kinnaly, UNC ’19


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