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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

First welcome

‘Believe you can be successful here’

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Nearly 20 percent of Carolina’s students are the first in their families to begin the journey of earning a college degree. But they aren’t alone.

Hundreds of Carolina faculty and staff, including members of the University’s leadership team, understand the struggle – and excitement and accomplishment. They were also first-generation college students.

Starting with the initial hurdle of applying and facing challenges such as making friends and learning how to succeed, these first-generation graduates overcame daunting obstacles.

With determination and hard work, they reached their goal: a meaningful college experience culminating at graduation day.

And they want all students to know that they can reach that goal, too.

Learn more about Carolina’s faculty, staff and leadership who were the first in their families to graduate from college – or if you are member of the faculty or staff, share your story.

(Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)


Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

“As I advanced in my academic career, [my parents] understood less about what I was doing, but they were always supportive.”


Dwight Stone UNC Board of Trustees University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)


Chair, UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees

“I came from a high school graduating class of 82. So just being a little overwhelmed, at least initially, gave way to feeling a lot more comfortable once I found my way around this place.”


MABEL (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)MIGUEL

Clinical Professor of Organizational Behavior and Director of Global Business Center, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“I came from Venezuela. Not every woman in my generation was going to college. I worked during the day and went to school at night.”


WINSTON CRISPWinston Crisp Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

“They wanted us to have the opportunity to choose what we wanted to do with our lives, which was something none of them got to do.”

(Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)


Special Assistant to the Chancellor

Director, Office of Inclusive Excellence, School of Nursing

Interim Chief Diversity Officer

“My parents told me that I was as good as anyone, anywhere. Failure was not an option.”

Roy Williams Head coach Men's basketball University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)


Men’s Basketball Coach

“I can remember coming down for orientation and getting out and looking at that great big dormitory and saying to myself, ‘You’ve got to make the decisions.’”