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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 to find out why every day really is a great day to be a Tar Heel.

Students throwing colorful powder in the air.

Campus life creators

  • Daniel Wood in the Rameses outfit sitting in the stands.

    Spirit Team: Daniel Wood

    Daniel Wood has spent the past four years as one of the most recognizable Tar Heels on campus without anybody knowing it was him. Wood has anonymously been making memories for hundreds of thousands of fans at Carolina’s biggest games and becoming a regular figure at community events around the state as Rameses.

  • Kyla Locklear at the American Indian Center.

    American Indian Center: Kyla Locklear

    Since she first arrived in Chapel Hill, junior Kyla Locklear has been dedicated to bringing awareness to Carolina's Native American community. The UNC American Indian Center quickly became the perfect place for Locklear to work toward that goal.

  • Emily Madrzykowski siting on steps.

    Admissions ambassador: Emily Madrzykowski

    Wanting to alleviate the stress of the college admissions process, Emily Madrzykowski had dreams of becoming a tour guide even before becoming a Tar Heel. Now an admissions ambassador, she guides prospective students through campus, sharing the Carolina story along the way.

  • Ashley Dos Santos in the makerspace.

    Be a Maker Network: Ashley Dos Santos

    Senior Ashley Dos Santos knew that Carolina's makerspaces were where she belonged even before she was officially a Tar Heel. Now an active member in the Be A Maker Network, she's working to bring the world of making to more students.

  • A man performing a magic trick with a light.

    Tar Heel Club of Magic: Jonathan Thai

    Jonathan Thai has been captivated by magic since first he saw his cousin perform a card trick years ago. As he works on mastering the craft himself, he’s bringing his passion for magic to Chapel Hill and creating a community of Tar Heel magicians in a new student organization.

  • Katherin Xing standing outside.

    UNC Figure Skating: Katherine Xing

    A competitive figure skater and president of the UNC Figure Skating Club, Carolina sophomore Katherine Xing is inviting more Tar Heels into the sport with the goal of empowering the skaters and providing a mindset that they can apply to anything they do in life.

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 work with nonprofits and community organizations throughout the year to address critical issues and challenges facing North Carolinians. By volunteering and sharing the skills they’re sharpening in the classroom, they’re bringing our mission to life and spreading it across our state.

  • Cameron Baker standing outside.

    Cameron Baker wanted to become a politician or judge to find ways to make a positive impact in his hometown. But through his studies at Carolina and an internship with the local chapter of the NAACP, the junior found a different path to social change.

    Read more about Cameron
  • Jade Neptune standing outside Memorial Hall.

    Jade Neptune has served as a Chapel Hill Town Council campaign manager, worked with Carolina Performing Arts and the North Carolina Symphony, and provided academic coaching to North Carolina prisoners.

    Read more about Jade
  • Desiree Lockhart posing for a photo.

    Carolina junior Desireé Lockhart has dedicated her time in Chapel Hill to supporting and serving the community as an intern with a local nonprofit focused on affordable housing and grassroots economic development.

    Read more about Desireé

Creative Tar Heels

  • Jason Lord works on a screenprinting board.

    Jason Lord

    After more than two decades as a school teacher, Jason Lord began taking classes at Carolina to hone his visual art skills to teach his middle school students. That experience led the Tar Heel to put his teaching career on hold and pursue a degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

  • Louisa Penafor

    Luisa Peñaflor

    First-year student Luisa Peñaflor has a knack for writing that has already earned her the Thomas Wolfe Scholarship, but at Carolina, she's diving into coursework that is helping take her talents to the next level.

  • Alex Upton walking on campus.

    Alex Upton

    Alex Upton, a Carolina junior studying music in the College of Arts & Sciences, is connecting with his musical intuition through performance, composition and improvisation.

  • A student playing the cello at the bell tower.

    Dariel Liakhovetski

    Dental student Dariel Liakhovetski has provided his own soundtrack to life. A classically trained cellist, he has traveled across the world playing for audiences and recently found his home as a Tar Heel.

Budding researchers

  • Emmaus in the mountains with his bike.

    Emmaus Holder

    Over the span of 56 days, Emmaus Holder cycled 4,300 miles from Topsail Beach, North Carolina, to Los Angeles in a solo, self-supported ride to raise awareness for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and gather dozens of interviews that he'll turn into a research paper.

  • Kelli Smith-Biwer in the Beat Lab. (Photo by Jess Abel)

    Kelli Smith-Biwer

    Kelli Smith-Biwer’s research delves into 1950s home audio advertisements, with a focus on the construction of gendered buying and listening practices in high fidelity culture. A vital aspect of her work hinges on community engagement and activism.

  • Nihar Mahon outside

    Nihar Vaidya

    Carolina junior Nihar Vaidya is combining his majors of computer science and statistics and analytics to predict when patients may encounter seizures caused by epilepsy.

  • Kena Lemu standing outside.

    Kena Lemu

    Chancellors Science Scholar Kena Lemu remembers seeing deaths from treatable diseases and the impact the HIV epidemic was having on her community when she was growing up in Oromia. She knew as a child that she wanted to be the change that her community needed and enrolled at Carolina to start that journey.

  • Alayna Mackiewicz standing by the ocean.

    Alayna Mackiewicz

    Through The Graduate School's Summer Research Fellowship, Ph.D. student Alayna Mackiewicz is spending the summer in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, studying sensory biology.

  • Brian Lerch standing in front of a projection of beetles.

    Brian Lerch

    Why do some organisms live in groups? What influences their cooperation with one another? How do they choose their mates? Ph.D. student Brian Lerch has a lot of questions about ecology and evolutionary biology — and he strives to answer them using math.