A Diamond Heel returns to campus to earn his degree

When RC Orlan signed his first professional contract with the Washington Nationals in 2012, he made a promise to himself that he would return to Carolina to finish his degree. He fulfilled that promise in December through the Complete Carolina program.

RC Orlan had one dream growing up: to play professional baseball.

He was drafted out of high school by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but instead of playing in the minor leagues, he enrolled at Carolina in the fall of 2009 to set himself up for greater success in the future both on and off the field.

After a dominant junior season on the mound for the Tar Heels, Orlan was drafted again in 2012, this time by the Washington Nationals. He took the next step toward his dream and signed a professional contract. Before leaving Carolina, though, he made a commitment to his coaches and himself that he would finish getting his degree.

“As much as I wanted to come back the first two years to say, ‘Boom, I knocked it out at 23,’ it was just not an option,” Orlan said.

This fall, Orlan returned to Chapel Hill for his final semester, and on Dec. 15, he will graduate with a degree in management and society from the College of Arts & Sciences.

Orlan returned to campus as part of the Complete Carolina program, which helps student-athletes who turn pro before graduating return to Chapel Hill to earn their degrees.

“I guess I look back over a 10-year timeline now — being able to go to the school that I wanted to, playing in the College World Series and pitching twice there,” he said. “I met my wife here. I got to play professional baseball for almost seven years. I’m a Tar Heel, and I’m forever thankful for the opportunities it’s given me.”

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