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In August, The Daily Tar Heel set out to "chart the lives of these first-year students as they move in, rush, join student organizations, study, take exams and return home."

And because each freshman did just that, one last meeting with the four chosen to represent 3,400 was required.

But the fashion in which each of the four freshmen arrived offered a bit of insight into each one's life and year at UNC.

Of course, Aletha Green was a couple minutes early. Her tall frame, clothed in a white Carolina volleyball T-shirt, Nike jacket and a pair of Air Max, stood in the doorway.

Without a word, Green was ready to get the show on the road as her silver hoop earrings dangled from her ears.

A childhood in a military family and a healthy dose of sports in her life means self-discipline is nothing new to this freshman from San Diego. But Green had three others to wait on, and when she realized she was the first face to show, decided to squeeze the most our of her time. "I'm going to take a nap," she said.

This particular morning was Green's last volleyball practice of the season, and now it was time to catch up on sleep.

Next to pop in was S.J. Barrie-Chapman. She was bubbly, excited to interact with the rest of the crew she journeyed through the year with.

Remember: Meeting and greeting drive this freshman from Wilmette, Ill.

She had her brown hair pulled back, exposing the piercing in the cartilage of her right ear. (The tongue's pierced, too). And this day she wore glasses -- picture frames for her blue eyes.

Not far behind strolled in Kent Welch. A white UNC baseball cap covered his eyes at first. His navy-blue collared shirt was accompanied by a long sleeve gray T-shirt and jeans.

He brought a bag of gummy worms, which he and Barrie-Chapman ate while they bonded over the popularity of summer school and the work of 10-page papers.

There was a missing link: Katie Welch. But Kent, her twin brother, had an idea. "She might've forgotten," he said and proceeded to call her room with his cell phone. Katie was there.

Ten minutes later, Katie showed in a plain long-sleeved white T-shirt and a light-washed pair of blue jeans.

Once Aletha was awoken, the meeting began. But what took place was less like a comparison of years and more like six degrees of separation.

They were all interconnected -- by a class, an interest, a friend or an experience. Something links each one to another.

To start simple, Kent's sister is Katie, who has had a class with Aletha, who's had a class with S.J.

Or try this: Kent and S.J. bonded over the fact that he plays the banjo and loves jazz and she sang in a jazz band back home.

At one point, both Kent and Aletha realized they attended the same fraternity party at the start of the year. Kent soon joined that fraternity.

There's more. Aletha has a friend from Winston-Salem who both Welches (Winston-Salem natives themselves) know.

The meeting even included a "Wait! You're the one ..."

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All that was missing was a reference to Kevin Bacon.

"I didn't think you guys existed."

One day Aletha awoke in class to a female student uttering the phrase "I have a question." But it was tinged with what was to her a thick Southern accent and thus alerted the Californian.

"I didn't think you guys existed," Aletha said, after relaying the story to Katie and noting that Katie was the girl in the class.

Katie insisted she doesn't have a heavy accent. But when she said "there's no way" in her defense, the two out-of-staters repeated the sentence, emphasizing the accent.

S.J. and Aletha are just two representatives of the average 18 percent of out-of-state students that enter the University yearly. And accents always has been one of those awe causing and adjustment-forcing characteristics of the South.

For S.J., Southern hospitality was another issue.

After being in a car accident with four friends that left scars visible with the three-quarters length shirt she wore this day, people were quick to offer help and did everything for her. And in a place where opening doors is commonplace, S.J. still doesn't want it. "I can't have people do anything for me," S.J. said about gentleman-like behavior.

"That's so wild." Katie said. "Our mother would get all over (Kent) if he didn't."

"See, my mother would laugh," S.J. said.

"Don't deny the relationship."

Katie and Kent did not have to deal with a new cultural setting. They had to deal with being so close to one another. For four more years.

"Don't deny the relationship," Aletha told Kent and Katie. They are twins, they both live in Granville Towers, and Aletha knows there has to be some sort of story behind their interaction.

Katie admitted that she and her brother had squabbles growing up as twins. "We were very competitive," she said.

So when they both decided to attend the same university, Kent was a little apprehensive about the situation.

"For 18 years, it's been Katie and Kent," Kent said in August. "The independent part of me has been irked because you're linked to someone by default."

Both admit that nine months later their relationship is less stressful than it could have been.

But they still can't agree on exactly how often they see each other.

"We see each other every day," Katie said, with Kent's rebuttal not far behind: "That's not true."

"I dropped psych."

As conversation went wherever the four took it, S.J. finished a sentence with the phrase "his nucleus interpositive."

And a "nucleu-what?" look came over everyone's face.

"I dropped psych," Aletha said. "First week, I dropped psych."

But with the last week of class ending today, now there's no way out. All that's left to focus on for these freshmen are final exams.

"I don't even care," Aletha said about finals. "Practice is over. I'm going to sleep for the next two weeks."

No tricks or special studying methods are up Kent's sleeve. His plan: "Study. Pretty much the same way everyone else does."

Katie has constructed a plan opposite of her strategy for fall finals: stay in the library as much as needed. "I'm going to pitch a tent," she said. "I didn't do that last semester, so I figure I should do that this semester."

And by mid-May, Katie will be able to figure out if the campout was successful. Also by that time, S.J. will know whether her goal to get all A's this year was achieved. "I'm aiming for straight A's," S.J. said in August.

But waiting until May is not necessary because S.J., a self-proclaimed "lazy ass" for second semester, already knows the verdict. "(It's) far from working out," S.J. said. "Not that far, but far."

"That's just a plan."

Among these four freshmen, the list of potential majors included biomedical engineering, journalism, political science and philosophy. Luckily, some of them settled on a course of study. Others have yet to pick a definite track.

Katie knows she has to get down to business. Especially if she plans on majoring in that and political science. "I'm going to try," she explained to the other three. So she will enroll herself in three of the business prerequisites for the fall of 2001, allowing her to go abroad in the spring.

"That's just a plan," Katie warns. "I'll come up with a plan B if it doesn't work out."

If advertising doesn't work out for S.J., then she has a couple of choices to fall back on. At the beginning of the year, psychology, history and biomedical engineering all were possible interests to her.

And don't even play the major game with Aletha. "Do you really want to know what I'm majoring in this week?" she'll ask.

For Kent, the list of possibilities have dwindled since August, when it was completely up in the air and from December, when it was American studies, history, religion or philosophy.

Now Kent described his major to his group as "history or American studies." Well, sort of. "I'm trying to do the pre-med thing without majoring in a science."

"I swore it off."

More than anything this year, Kent majored in himself -- not in a narcissistic way. In the way he set up in August by saying he wants to grow and become a different person. And college was just the place for him to do that.

This year, Kent spent time honing his banjo-playing skills. "He had a concert last weekend," Katie said for Kent. "A recital."

But for now, making music with friends and taking lessons locally is just fine with Kent. He recently found a mandolin player to play with.

As Kent increases his time spent with music, S.J. is wrapping up a year without letting her music capabilities shine. In high school, S.J. played saxophone, flute and piano on top of singing in a jazz band. But that was high school. This is college. "I don't do any of that here, because I swore it off," S.J. said. Dabbling in some campus music courses like "Introduction to Jazz" is still an option though.

"Is that good?" S.J. asked Kent about the class, in which he was enrolled.

"It's great," Kent replied.

"Maybe I'll take that then. I'm in 'Introduction to Drawing,' and I'm terrified."

"It's a four-year occupation."

"So wait," S.J. says, taking the conversation on another track. "Why don't you like volleyball?"

"I didn't say I don't like volleyball!" Aletha responded. A scholarship was what brought her from the California sun to Carolina blue skies. UNC's women's volleyball team won the ACC championship this year, and the season kept Aletha on a schedule of conditioning, practicing and playing.

But S.J. didn't understand Aletha's explanation of her relationship with volleyball, which she gave earlier in the discussion.

"It's a four-year occupation," she said. "I don't associate emotions with volleyball."

"I rushed first semester, and I loved it."

"I don't want a frat to define my career. (But) I think it could be a great outlet to meet people." That was Kent in August, and after a semester of surveying the Greek scene for the semester before joining the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity this fall, those results are in as well.

And it's simple for Kent: "I don't regret it."

The verdict is the same for his sister, just with more words. For Katie, rush led to a bid, which led to her becoming a part of Kappa Delta, getting involved and enjoying the experience. So much even that she'll spend the fall semester in the Kappa Delta house.

While talking to S.J. about the pros and cons of rushing first semester, Katie said, "I must say I rushed first semester, and I loved it."

"I heard it was necessary for life."

There are a still a couple of things that still bewilder S.J. On one level: hot dogs from street vendors. She revealed that her "epiphany about North Carolina is that you can't get hot dogs."

But on a more academic level, S.J. was new to the popularity of summer school. The fact that students stick around for the break to catch up and get ahead was surprising to S.J. "I heard it was necessary for life," she said.

S.J. herself, however, will be heading back to Illinois to spend her days. Necessary for her life are "job opportunities that are open in Chicago."

Aletha, on the other hand, is doing that summer school thing. She won't be venturing back to California.

Kent is looking forward to spending time with his family in Winston-Salem and working for some extra cash.

That internship in Washington, D.C., did come through for Katie. She'll be working for Sen. Jesse Helms.

The commonality between all of these summer plans is when they are over and done with, it will be time to head to Chapel Hill and again start anew.

"I'm sad it's over."

As the doors of freshman years close behind them and sophomore years await, all four look back on a life changing freshman year.

Scene changes. "I definitely enjoyed Chapel Hill, and I'm definitely glad I came here," Kent said.

Social changes. "I thought it was fun," Aletha said.

"I think it flew by. I learned a lot of different things outside the classroom."

Changes in friendship. "I think that it really changed me when I stopped trying to replace my old friends." S.J. said. "Because friends are irreplaceable."

And changes that these four fresh perspectives don't want to see go.

"I'm sad it's over," Katie said. "I like being a freshman."

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