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

The Old Well

Campus life creators

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

    Spirit Team: Daniel Wood ’22

    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.

  • Katherin Xing standing outside.

    UNC Figure Skating: Katherine Xing

    A competitive figure skater and president of the UNC Figure Skating Club, 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.

  • Levi Tox holding a skateboard.

    BeAM: Levi Tox

    Senior Levi Tox has been a maker since high school. He used his expertise to create an efficient — and fun — way to get to campus with the help of BeAM and Carolina's makerspaces.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Ricardo sitting at a desk.

    Student Health Action Coalition: Ricardo Crespo

    Having grown up surrounded by fields in southeastern North Carolina, Ricardo Crespo is training to practice medicine in the same kinds of rural communities. He’s starting that mission with Carolina’s Student Health Action Coalition.

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.

  • 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
  • Theodore Nollert

    Graduate student Theodore Nollert, also president of Graduate and Professional Student Government, shared his experiences teaching American poetry and literature in a North Carolina prison.

    Read more about Theodore

Creative Tar Heels

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Mary Thurman standing outside

    Mary Thurman '17

    After graduating from Carolina in 2017, Mary Thurman moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in professional animation. She recently landed a job at Noggin, Nickelodeon’s children’s network, as a junior writer and producer on the short-form animation team.

  • 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

  • Tom Diaz standing outside.

    Tom Diaz

    Tom Diaz, a PharmD candidate at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, aims to advance patient health care in space. His mind is often pondering how medication dosing may be different for astronauts and how medications may be altered in little gravity.

  • 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.

  • A person catching butterflies in a field.

    Madison Milotte

    Madison Milotte used a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship to study how increasing temperatures affect the pupation of cabbage white butterflies.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.