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March 2008

Remembering a special young woman

Last Tuesday, the university and the community celebrated the life of Eve Carson, the Carolina student body president and Board of Trustees member taken from us so suddenly and so violently at the age of only 22.

Eve had compiled quite an impressive record of achievement in her short time with us. Morehead Scholar, member of Phi Beta Kappa, North Carolina Fellow -- her list of honors could easily fill this column.

But her achievements are only part of the Eve we remember, and I would say not the most important part. For the university is filled with high achievers and honors students, but in all of campus, there was only one Eve, incandescent and bubbling with intelligence and compassion.

Eve lived her life in such a way as to become the very embodiment of what we call the Carolina Way. What is the Carolina Way? Eve and I liked to describe it as "excellence with a heart."

That phrase also describes Eve. She had the excellence, as her résumé shows. But she also had the heart. And it is the combination of these two that we feel are at the core of our student culture -- a commitment to others, a commitment of service to the community, to the state, and indeed to the world; and a commitment to social justice, to fair play and equal opportunity for all. Eve cared about all these things, and more than caring, she labored in these vineyards, using her Morehead summer travel to engage herself in the world, and her time on campus to work with other students, as well as faculty and staff.

At the same time, she reached out to the local community, especially to the children here. She taught science to students at Frank Porter Graham Elementary School in Chapel Hill and tutored older children at Githens Middle School in Durham. She was also an assistant coach with Girls on the Run of the Triangle, which uses running to teach values and a sense of self to girls in the critical pre-teen years.

In life, she brought people together. And in death, she has continued to bring people together.

Eve Carson was truly a gift to Carolina and to the Chapel Hill community. We are a more caring, more committed, more compassionate and more joyful place for her having been a part of us. We are eternally grateful for this gift.

At the university, we are also grateful to the law enforcement agencies that have handled this case; to Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy, who attended Eve's funeral in Athens, and other representatives of local government for their expressions of support; and to the members of the greater Chapel Hill and Carrboro community, who sent so many messages of condolence and who joined us in the Smith Center for a celebration of Eve's life on Tuesday.

One way we can show our gratitude and honor Eve has been mentioned by Mayor Foy, who observed that Eve was destined to do great things. "Rather than have those things remain undone, each of us can look to pick up a piece of the work that Eve did, and to do the work she would have done, the way she would have done it," Mayor Foy said in his statement.

I would like to endorse those sentiments and challenge all of you reading this column to pick up a piece of Eve's work, to do something for others in her memory. Live your life as she would, the Carolina Way.


James Moeser is chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He welcomes readers’ messages at

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