It's a Great Day to be a Tar Heel

“It’s a great day to be a Tar Heel” is a phrase you’ll often hear around Carolina, and for a good reason.

Every day, Tar Heels are creating a positive impact on the world by improving communities and inspiring change through their extraordinary talents. They’re artists, scientists, humanitarians, researchers and innovators doing great things.

Meet some of our students and alumni to find out why every day really is a great day to be a Tar Heel.

Campus life creators

  • Jay Garner in a referee uniform.

    Intramural Sports: Jay Garner

    Growing up, Jay Garner always preferred to be the referee for backyard football. The Tar Heel has earned his ref stripes at Carolina as an official for Campus Recreation's intramural sports.

  • Audrey Zuck in front of Carmichael Residence Hall.

    Transfer United: Audrey Zuck

    Carolina Housing’s Transfer United program helps transfer students as they transition to UNC-Chapel Hill, connects them to peers who have a common experience through the transfer process and provides support and resources.

  • people jumping rope

    Carolina Jump Rope: Luke Boyle

    Carolina Jump Rope is making their fellow Tar Heels rethink what it means to jump rope. The team performs dazzling spins and flips at campus events and even competes against other universities and jump rope clubs from around the country.

  • A baseball player at bat.

    Club baseball: Cameron Wade

    The Carolina club baseball team is an opportunity for Tar Heels to pursue their passion for playing baseball in college while bonding with their teammates. They are part of the Mid-Atlantic Conference, competing against other universities, including NC State, Elon, East Carolina, UNC Wilmington and Appalachian State.

  • Caitlin Russell outside.

    Carolina Veterans Resource Center: Caitlin Russell

    Caitlin Russell spent the past six years working on public affairs in the Air Force, flying in Black Hawks and documenting military training exercises. Now she's in Chapel Hill gaining new skills to take her career to the next level. As an active member at the Carolina Veterans Resource Center, she's helping build a community for all veterans on our campus.

  • Marissa Carmi outside.

    First Nations Graduate Circle: Marissa Carmi

    Graduate student Marissa Carmi is co-president of the First Nations Graduate Circle, which supports and advocates for American Indian graduate and professional students on campus.

Beyond our stone walls

Public service is a critical part of Carolina’s mission, and Tar Heels are finding numerous ways to fulfill that goal and serve communities far and wide.

Our students and alumni work with nonprofits and community organizations throughout the year to address critical issues and challenges facing North Carolinians. They’re bringing our mission to life and spreading it across our state.

  • Shayla Douglas.

    Shayla Douglas ’17, 22 (MPA) launched into a career giving back to North Carolina as the downtown and small business development manager in Garner, North Carolina. Douglas is working to revitalize the downtown area and strengthen the economy of the Wake County town of 31,000.

    Read more about Shayla's work in Garner
  • Daniel Garcia in blue Carolina pullover with trees in background

    Despite financial and social hurdles to earning a college degree, Daniel Garcia ’21 ultimately found his path to a four-year college through C-STEP and the community college system. As a member of the Carolina College Advising Corps, he is now helping more high school students see higher education as an option.

    Read more about Daniel
  • Sally Dowd on a boat.

    Alongside Associate Professor Janet Nye at the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences, graduate student Sally Dowd is working toward a better understanding of how ocean warming affects fish populations in coastal regions and how that could impact our state's fisheries.

    Read more about Sally

Creative Tar Heels

  • Alexis Payton in her dressing room.

    Alexis Payton ‘20, ‘21 (MS)

    Double Tar Heel Alexis Payton is living her dream of performing as a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall while also working as a data scientist at the UNC School of Medicine.

  • Matthew Troyer in front of his photography

    Matthew Troyer

    A master of fine arts student, Matthew Troyer is channeling his experience in the Marine Corps to create photography that shares the military experience with the civilian population and fellow veterans.

  • Bronwyn sitting in a theater.

    Bronwyn White

    Bronwyn White spends most of her time at the Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art backstage, but her work is on display for all to see. As a production assistant in the work-study program, the Carolina junior designs lighting for the Center for Dramatic Art, helps with set construction and runs the lighting board during Kenan Theater Company performances.

  • Cortland Gilliam near the Unsung Founders Memorial at McCorkle Place on Carolina's campus.

    Cortland Gilliam

    Double Tar Heel Cortland Gilliam ‘14 has been named the Town of Chapel Hill’s second poet laureate. The UNC School of Education doctoral candidate is a scholar, educator, cultural organizer and now, the Town’s official poet.

Budding researchers

  • Isabel standing in the water.

    Isabel Silva-Romero

    Isabel Silva-Romero studies how ocean temperatures affect the food web on rocky reefs around the Galápagos Islands.

  • Jack Sundberg sits behind a row of batteries

    Jack Sundberg

    Time and cost are huge considerations when chemists are looking for new materials to use in their experiments. Jack Sundberg has created a software to help chemists uncover the best materials for their experiments — a potential game-changer for minimizing time and costs.

  • Rhianna Lee standing in a lab.

    Rhianna Lee

    Having watched her brother grow up and struggle with cystic fibrosis, Carolina doctoral student Rhianna Lee has dedicated her life to studying the disease. She works on developing therapies for people with cystic fibrosis and creates cell lines to test therapies that could minimize symptoms for those with rare types of the disease.

  • Emily Chavez

    Emily Chávez

    A graduate student at the UNC School of Social Work, Emily Chávez is researching intimate partner violence, housing injustice and marginalized communities and is working alongside Tonya Van Deinse, a clinical assistant professor, on a study on the experiences of people who experienced crime, with attention to marginalized populations.

  • Sarah Vickers

    Sarah Vickers

    Junior Sarah Vickers knew in middle school that physics would be a lifelong passion. In the Gruszko lab, researchers are working to understand why there is significantly more matter than antimatter in the universe by studying neutrinos — miniscule, abundant, neutrally charged particles.

  • Nathan Kelete looking through a server with cables.

    Nathan Kelete

    Nathan Kelete is a sophomore majoring in computer science and a Chancellor’s Science Scholar within the College of Arts and Sciences. He spent this past summer studying toxic air exposure in the Fry Lab within the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health but hopes to ultimately use artificial intelligence and machine learning to solve problems.