Becoming part of Carolina’s traditions

Graduating senior Saniyya Adams came to Chapel Hill as a lifelong fan and Carolina Covenant Scholar, and on May 14 she’ll leave after making her mark on the University.

Saniyya Adams in her regalia standing on a brick pathway
Saniyya Adams (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Saniyya Adams was born into a family of Tar Heel fans, and on May 14, she’ll become the first among them to earn a degree from the University.

Adams, a graduating business administration major, was raised in upstate New York, but her father’s family is from North Carolina, and she grew up watching Carolina sports with her family. UNC-Chapel Hill was always her dream school. In 2019, she became the first official Tar Heel in her family.

Adams came to the University as a Carolina Covenant Scholar, a scholarship program that covers the full financial need of its students through grants, scholarships and work-study. The program also offers academic and personal support to help students feel at home at Carolina and graduate on time.

“When I got my acceptance letter I thought, ‘I have to go because there’s so much tradition behind the school, and Carolina Covenant Scholars is such a great program’,” says Adams. “My first impression of Carolina was that it’s a huge school, and I didn’t know how I would find my people, find classes and how to be somewhere totally new. As time passed, I learned that campus isn’t nearly as big as it seems, and I found a group of friends through the Covenant.”

As a Tar Heel, Adams joined the student advisory council for the Covenant where she found her group at Carolina that she’s still friends with today and found a way to give back to the program.

“My financial aid package from Covenant changed everything for me, and when I had the chance to work with them, I applied to the council. I can say that I’ve helped build up the advisory council and brought together the Covenant Scholar community during my time here and gone from an intern to a senior position there,” Adams says.

A highlight of Adams’ work with the Covenant was a scholarship donor brunch last fall at the Carolina Inn. She met one of the donors who contributed to a scholarship she directly benefitted from and had the opportunity to thank them in person.

“It was nice to meet someone who made it possible for me to come to Carolina and tell them what I’ve accomplished here and how my being at Carolina is making an impact, and that’s because of them,” says Adams.

As a business administration major at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, Adams studied abroad in Hungary and took advantage of internship matching opportunities to build her undergraduate experience. One internship with Bank of America led to a job offer post-graduation.

“I interned with Bank of America in Houston last summer, and after graduation, I’ll be moving to Texas to start work as an enterprise credit analyst,” says Adams. “I think everything I learned at the business school and at Carolina prepared me for what comes next.”

On May 14, Adams’ family, who moved to Charlotte during her a sophomore year at Carolina, will come to Chapel Hill to watch her become a Carolina alumna and take the next step into her career.

“I’m not big on traditions, but I’ve enjoyed becoming part of Carolina’s history, and I’m going to miss it and the family I made through Covenant,” says Adams.