A Tar Heel for life

As Tyger Hanback prepares to graduate from Carolina, he reflects on his time at UNC-Chapel Hill and the lifelong memories he's made with his fellow Tar Heels.

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I’ve had an incredible experience at Carolina. As an out-of-state student, I was not Tar Heel born or bred, but I will be a Tar Heel dead!

One of the things I’m missing most about campus is being an Admissions Ambassador. I have cherished touring prospective students and showing them why I love Carolina. Nothing is more rewarding than having an admitted student seek me out after admission to convey I was somehow instrumental in their decision to choose UNC-Chapel Hill and how happy they are with their choice.  At the end of every tour, next to the Old Well, ambassadors share our personal “Why Carolina.”

For me, I chose Carolina as the best option for the most well-rounded experience. I wanted an amazing experience along with a first-rate education. I wanted an experience I could make my own. The University stood out as dedicated to individual student success on all levels. Instead of prescribed curriculums, the students, faculty and staff all come together to forge pathways that can be as unique as each student.

For example, I really wanted to major in neuroscience. Through my involvement in the Carolina Neuroscience Club, I was able to work with faculty and staff to create a neuroscience major, and I became one of the first to declare for the major in the spring of my sophomore year. I also wanted to work in a research lab as an undergraduate. I found this opportunity and so much more by working along with brilliant and compassionate scientists studying the behavioral and neurological changes in the Herman Lab. These have been incredible academic experiences, but Chapel Hill is so much more than this.

The reason I stayed at Carolina is because of the people. Everyone is so caring, and I have become part of a united force for good. Reflecting as a senior who survived multiple hurricanes, water crises, crazy campus events and finished my college experience amid a pandemic, I have learned that I can overcome anything with the help of my fellow Tar Heels.

While at Carolina, I have experienced the thrill of great victories and the devastation of heartbreaking losses. I was fortunate enough to experience multiple athletic victories, including the men’s basketball national championship in 2017. These experiences will last well beyond graduation and make up the myriad of amazing memories and connections that I have made, which give me the confidence to go forth boldly and succeed in life.

My best memories and proudest Carolina accomplishment to date is my time as a member of the UNC Marching Tar Heels. I had the honor of participating in the band as a drum major and volunteer coordinator. On more than one occasion after wins and losses, I have had the unforgettable experience of playing Hark the Sound in the Dean Dome and Kenan Stadium surrounded by current and former students hugging and crying.  After the best wins, the school spirit explodes as students take over Franklin Street in unified elation to celebrate what it means to be a Tar Heel. I will never forget playing our hearts out at athletic events, supporting our Tar Heels and the resonating sound of thousands singing along to our alma mater.

While I will miss campus life, the people I have met here will stay with me forever. Connections with students, professors and staff will last a lifetime and influence how I approach the world after graduation.  With their support, I have succeeded at Carolina, and I know I can succeed after graduation. My incredible network and group of friends have already proven that not even a global pandemic can keep us apart. Our support for each other never waivers.

Contrary to popular belief, we do not become Tar Heels for life because our blood is Carolina blue or because we drink from the Old Well. We are Tar Heels for life because we share an unbreakable bond, which is the sense of home at Carolina that can only be experienced first-hand.  Although I will miss Chapel Hill, I will carry the Tar Heel legacy in my heart wherever I go surrounded by those I am proud to call my Carolina family.