Graduating tour guide welcomes visitors to campus

At the UNC Visitors Center, Kevin Rivera Araujo helps others “fall in love” with the place he calls home.

Kevin Rivera-Araujo speaking to visitors as he gives a tour of UNC-Chapel Hill.
“We see visitors from all over the country, all over North Carolina and even all around the world,” said Rivera Araujo. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Kevin Rivera Araujo has range.

As the Carolina senior leads a tour through the UNC Visitors Center, he tells guests all about the nation’s first public university. He covers the basics — class sizes, research opportunities, student housing, campus history and University traditions — and makes sure they know the proper name for the school color.

“It’s not sky blue. It’s not baby blue. It’s not powder blue,” Rivera Araujo explains. “It’s Carolina Blue.”

Rivera Araujo, a double major in psychology and Romance languages, has been setting the record straight on the best shade of blue for the last two years. As he prepares to graduate, he says this job is a highlight of his time at Carolina.

“I wish I would’ve started earlier because I really love it here,” says Rivera Araujo.

He was born in Dobson, North Carolina, roughly 100 miles northwest of Chapel Hill, and grew up there with his Mexican family. A first-generation college student, he came to UNC-Chapel Hill as a Carolina Covenant scholar.

After his sophomore year, Rivera Araujo was looking for a work study position and came across an opening for a tour guide. His friends told him they could see him giving tours and talking about the school.

Why did they think the job was a good fit for him?

“Just being able to talk to people,” he says. “I think that perfectly marries what we have to do here at the Visitors Center. We see visitors from all over the country, all over North Carolina and even all around the world.”

That ability to connect with people from all over has been one of Rivera Araujo’s favorite parts of the job. Sometimes visitors come from as far away as Sydney, Australia. And sometimes they turn out to be neighbors, like when he met a group from Elkin, close to his hometown in Surry County.

“My people!” he told them. “You get what I’m saying when I say I grew up in the middle of the woods.”

Kevin Rivera Araujo giving a tour of the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill.

“We really want to show you the school so you can also fall in love with it,” said Rivera Araujo (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Regardless of where his visitors come from, Rivera Araujo knows the impact he and his fellow tour guides can have on a person’s experience visiting the University.

Last year, a student from Brazil sent Rivera Araujo a tour thank you message that included an important update: He was going to be a Tar Heel, and Rivera Araujo’s “killer tour” helped sell him.

“I love to hear that because that’s what we do here,” Rivera Araujo says. “That’s our purpose: We really want to show you the school so you can also fall in love with it.”

Following graduation, Rivera Araujo plans to take some time off while pondering graduate school and other interests, like podcasting.

Graduation has him thinking back to his first semester at Carolina, when he struggled to find his way around campus during the height of the pandemic. Back then, he reached out to the leader of his virtual first-year orientation, who showed him around.

“I will always cherish that,” Rivera Araujo says. “It’s always a memory that I carry because it meant a lot to me that she took that time just to help me out.”

Years later, he’s paying it forward with tours of a campus he’s a bit more familiar with now.

“I would never change it for anything,” he says of coming to Carolina.

In so many words, he tells the University’s visitors the same.