Meaningful designs

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

We talked with students who created unique designs to learn the meanings behind their caps.

A decorated graduation cap.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill celebrates the graduation of more than 6,000 students at the annual Spring Commencement May 13, 2018 at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Chancellor Carol L. Folt presided over the ceremony. Carolina alumnus Rye Barcott, a social entrepreneur, delivered the keynote address. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

On Commencement day, Kenan Stadium’s field was filled with graduates all dressed in the same Carolina blue. But some Tar Heels added a personal touch to the standard attire.

From messages of strength to nods to their passions, dozens of caps were designed with a special purpose.

We talked with students who created one-of-a-kind designs to learn the meanings behind their caps.

“On my cap I have a Bible verse which is Romans 8:28, which essentially says that everything that’s happening in your life is working for your good. I also have pearls because I’m a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and pearls are a symbol of our organization. I love AKA and it has had a pivotal role in my time at UNC, so I knew it had to be included. I also love flowers because I think it has a lot of symbolism with regard to growth and nourishment, and I think during my time at UNC I have grown and been nourished.”

Gwendolyn Smith

“I’m proud of my degree and my hard work. It is very hot [today], so I probably should have put a few more degrees on there.”

Victoria Hill

“Since I’m a political science major with a minor inAfrican, African American, and Diaspora Studies, I’ve learned a lot about my past regarding black history and our culture. I’ve grown, learned from it and it’s provoked me to enhance my political action against the stigmas and the racial, social and political injustices and inequalities in the world. I basically wanted to give tribute to my ancestors who couldn’t make it.”

Sharante Gore

“I received a travel research grant from the University last semester, so I’ll be conducting research in 14 countries for five months on albinism and social identity. The journey is about to begin on May 31. I have albinism and I’ve always kind of struggled with this idea of identity. I’m Puerto Rican, Cuban and black, but my whole life I’ve passed as white. So [my research is about] understanding those differentiations, what that does for me and how it affects people around the world as well.”

Desirae Fewell

“I’m a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority so I have pearls and diamonds — a girl’s best friend. I also have a saying ‘powerful beyond measure.’ It’s something I learned in my organization — how to be powerful and have a woman’s confidence. I’ll be going into corporate America, so I have a picture of a black woman with an afro in business professional clothes to represent being powerful and going beyond what you want.”

Dajah Anderson-Huff

“When I studied abroad, I chose to do marine science out of the blue. I just wanted to try something different and basically found my passion. It was the best decision I’ve ever made here. I’m going into the field of marine biology. I want to do either wildlife rehabilitation or research.”

Sarah Amblard

Kelsie Hester

“It says ‘nevertheless, she persisted.’ I’m a first-generation college student, so I kind of felt like a lot of my college experience was very individual and all on me. I had a lot of support, but they didn’t really know what was going on or what I was doing. I also come from a very poor area of North Carolina, so I think with all of those things stacked against me, it’s about being able to still persist and graduate.”

Kelsie Hester