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Inspirational messages

Dozens of graduating seniors added personal touches to their graduation caps, bringing a special purpose to their Commencement attire.

A student waves during Commencement.
More than 6,000 students graduated from Carolina this spring. The Commencement ceremony was held at Kenan Stadium on Sunday, May 12. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

On Commencement day, Kenan Stadium was filled with graduates dressed mostly in Carolina blue graduation gowns, but some Tar Heels added a personal touch to the standard attire.

The students decorated their caps with messages of strength and gratitude, nods to their passions and more. Take a look at some of the one-of-a-kind designs and learn from the graduates the meaning behind their caps.

It has a quetzal on it, which is a bird that’s native to Guatemala. “Chapina” is what they call people from Guatemala so it reads “Guatemalan and educated. Thanks Mom and Dad,” because my parents are Guatemalan immigrants and that means a lot to me. I have the Guatemalan flag and glitter because I’m proud to be Guatemalan and a first-generation immigrant student who graduated from UNC. I sent a picture of it to my mom and she loved it.

Lourdes Velasquez

I wanted an inspirational message that could go well with all of my peers who are graduating. It pretty much says, “We are gonna be all right.” This is a map of Ghana. It’s where my family is from and I decorated it with a U.S. flag because this is where I was raised. This is a picture of Kendrick Lamar and he has a song called “Alright,” so that represents the “all right” in the message. I have a globe in the middle because I’m going to graduate school in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. It highlights that I graduated here in 2019 and I’m going to graduate there in 2021.

Kojo Minta

I decorated it this way to give back to my family because I come from a small town — Morganton, North Carolina. Basically, it’s to humble me. Wherever I go, I’ll always have home to go back to.

Ciara Smith

I got here on a full-ride track scholarship, but when I first got here a lot of people would say “She’s only here because she’s an athlete. She’s not going to make it. She’s not going to graduate, she’s not smart enough,” and I did it. This inspired me to make this. I’m the first one in my family to go to college. I also have a twin sister and she didn’t go to college but now, after I graduated, she wants to go back to school.

Kristin Hall

“What she tackles she conquers” is a quote from Gilmore Girls. It’s my favorite TV show, and it’s that show I put on when I’m happy or when I’m sad. That quote really stuck with me as being an “always finish what you start” philosophy. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it right and I’m going to do it well.

Sia Kennedy

I decorated it with Beyonce because she has been very inspirational for my whole four years here at Carolina. She’s the epitome of a strong, black woman, and I am, too.

Selwyn Southerland