She’s graduated from UNC twice, but is not a double Tar Heel

When graduate student Aria Princehorn receives her master's in library science at Commencement this weekend, she'll have the unique characteristic of graduating from two different UNCs.

UNC graduate student Aria Princehorn by the Old Well.
(Photo by Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Aria Princehorn’s academic story could easily be a riddle: How do you earn two degrees from UNC without being a double Tar Heel?

The answer has roots near the Rocky Mountains, in Greeley, Colorado, home to the University of Northern Colorado. Princehorn earned her bachelor’s from Colorado’s UNC in the fall of 2020 and will now graduate from Carolina with a master’s in library science from the UNC School of Information and Library Science this weekend.

Her double UNC distinction didn’t stand out initially.

“I think it was more of an afterthought after I enrolled, especially when I first started taking classes,” Princehorn said. “I was like, ‘Oh, this is kind of ironic. I went to UNC, and now I’m at another UNC.’ I think it’s funny when I tell people.”

Princehorn, a native Coloradan, studied history at Northern Colorado, a university with about 9,000 students, and developed an interest in archives. That led her across the country to Carolina’s School of Information and Library Science two years ago.

“I knew that I wanted to archive, and I knew that I wanted to work in a museum, but that was all I knew going into this,” Princehorn said. “I did a general search for best archives, schools and programs — and I’ve always been drawn to the East Coast [because] I know there’s a lot of history there — and I saw UNC come up as second in the country in the SILS program specifically. So, I decided, ‘Why not see if I can get in?'”

She began her coursework in the fall of 2021. Princehorn has gotten used to the extra context she needs to use when talking about her alma maters.

“I met with my grandma earlier today, and she asked, ‘Do you mean Greeley or do you mean Chapel Hill?'” she said. “Even I have to distinguish, too. If I have someone ask me about UNC, I say, ‘Which one do you mean?’

Having completed most of her coursework remotely, Princehorn is looking forward to coming to Chapel Hill for Commencement this weekend.

Princehorn plans to work as an archivist after graduation. She’s excited about the knowledge she’s acquired from her history and information and library science studies and how it will help her as she enters the workforce.

She’s also mindful of the unique characteristic her diplomas will show.

“I think it’s definitely a special group when it comes to attending both UNCs,” Princehorn said. “I’m sure there are other people who have done that, but probably not very many.”