Making the most of summer

A woman working at a desk and looking at a map.

A time for discovery

Senior Christian Sodano spent much of summer 2023 in a Carolina neuroscience lab, researching human memory. Incoming first-year student Oge Chidubem visited the School of Nursing to learn how future nurses train. Doctoral student Sarah Blanton used campus as home base for writing her dissertation and conducting research on North Carolina farmworkers.

Like them, hundreds of incoming Carolina students, undergraduate students and graduate students enriched their lives through the University’s summer programs, which helped them learn, perform public service and travel.

Their varied academic journeys included:

  • Spending a day on campus learning about college life before starting their senior year in high school.
  • Living on campus for two weeks and taking classes before starting fall semester.
  • Working on a doctoral thesis or undergraduate research project, supported by University funding.
  • Traveling abroad to conduct undergraduate honors research.

Continue reading to learn about some of Carolina’s on-campus summer programs.

Summer Bridge

Sixty highly motivated incoming students from North Carolina attended Summer Bridge, a six-week program to aid their transition to life at Carolina. They lived in residence halls, met other future Tar Heels, talked with a health professions adviser and learned about Carolina’s many academic resources like the UNC Libraries, Learning and Writing Centers and Career Services. And, yes, they had lots of fun. Some earned college credit in courses in English, algebra or chemistry and on thriving in college. The program paid for housing and tuition, plus participants received a $750 stipend to pay for books, meals and expenses such as laundry.

“The most memorable part of Summer Bridge is certainly the people. I didn’t know my roommate before move-in, and it was incredible how fast we clicked; the counselors are amazing people. Plus, the program has definitely raised my confidence by immersing myself in new environments!”
Emma Culley ‘27, Summer Bridge participant


A student smiling and giving a thumbs up while posing for a photo on Polk Place on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill.

Project Uplift/Project Uplift PLUS

Through Project Uplift, 600 rising high school seniors engaged in a one-day immersive college experience. They learned about admissions and financial aid processes, connected with other seniors from across the country and interacted with Carolina students, faculty and staff. They toured campus, ate in a dining hall, visited classrooms, got tips on college essay writing and participated in a cultural show with performances by student organizations. Their parents and guardians toured campus and attended a session on resources and academic life.

Project Uplift PLUS, a two-week program, prepared 44 high school students from North Carolina for college and enriched their academic abilities. Participants lived on campus, took a college essay writing course, participated in cultural competence workshops and learned about campus offices and resources that can help ensure their success. They also engaged in college application preparation, leadership development, team-building activities, experiments in simulation labs and much more.

“I was focused on medicine and closed off about different academic majors. We visited places like the law school, the business school and a lab and that shocked me into considering other majors and pathways that I hadn’t thought of before.”
Saniya Styles, Project Uplift PLUS participant

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships

Through Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships, 61 students worked with Carolina faculty to conduct research and produce original scholarship. They sought better treatments for cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease, expanded knowledge of gravitational waves and efficient fuels, researched Southeast Asian American writers, explored the history of the Panama Canal through music and much more. SURF recipients received $4,000 and spent a minimum of 20 hours weekly on their work over nine weeks. Some also collaborated with postdoctoral and graduate student mentors.


A student named Anna Jin transfers liquid from a syringe into a vial.


At orientation sessions throughout the summer, 4,801 new undergraduate and 860 transfer students, along with their families, began a years-long partnership with Carolina to help each student thrive. During activities and information sessions, participants:
• Enhanced their knowledge of campus and the people here.
• Learned about resources for academics, mental health, safety and more.
• Connected with faculty and current students.

As a transfer student, I listened to the perspectives of my orientation leader —recommendations for what to do, where to go and how to get involved. After orientation, they became my go-to person when I had questions.

Alex Lepisto ‘25


A group of students participating in a group cheer in an auditorium.

Graduate student opportunities

The Graduate School hosted a series of workshops for prospective graduate students on how to plan and prepare for graduate school. Session coordinators met with undergraduates who are engaged in a research program to share tips on communication, preparing admissions materials and pitfalls to avoid.

Graduate student summer research fellowships

Summer Research Fellowships provided financial support to 33 graduate students to work on their dissertation research. The one-time $7,000 stipend per student came from philanthropic support to The Graduate School. The fellowships enabled recipients who would not normally have summer funding to progress more quickly toward their degrees. Doctoral student Taylor West benefited from a Laura Mayer Summer Research Fellowship, which enabled her to dedicate her summer to collecting and analyzing data on the benefits of positive connections with strangers.

Taylor West

Taylor West (Elizabeth Poindexter/The Graduate School)

“I feel a lot of gratitude and also validation, especially in a field where you’re always putting yourself out there for fellowships. It’s a rewarding feeling to be acknowledged with support for my summer research.”
Taylor West, doctoral student, psychology and neuroscience



21st Century Environmental Health Scholars

Eight undergraduates from Carolina, NCCU and Oakwood University spent the summer in an intensive part of their year as 21EH Scholars. The program, administered by the Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology, had scholars working 35 hours per week for 10 weeks as part of an on-campus lab team. They participated in cutting-edge research and practiced science communication skills.

A group of students at a garden.

Our summer programs provide amazing ways for students to build community and begin tapping into Carolina’s resources that will help them thrive. They also discover a lot about themselves and their interests, while studying and serving others.

Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz

Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz shaking the hand of a student in front of the Old Well.