Seniors, let’s talk. Soon (I refuse to acknowledge exactly how soon — that’s how deep in denial I am), we’re going to be dressed in Carolina blue caps and gowns, sitting in Kenan Stadium, surrounded by our friends as our last moments as official UNC undergraduates tick away.
I hope you’ve loved your four years here as much as I have. I hope you’ve made a connection with an amazing professor.
I hope you’ve shouted yourself hoarse at a sporting event. I hope you’ve met someone who’s completely changed the way you see the world.
I hope you’ve rushed Franklin. I hope you’ve laughed, cried, learned, loved and been challenged in this place with the Well and the Bell and the stone walls and the crisp October nights and the smell of dogwoods blooming.
I hope you’ve come to understand what being a graduate of the University of North Carolina means.
UNC is so closely tied to the state of North Carolina that it’s nearly impossible to mention one without the other. We have to respect and understand the intensity and mutuality of this relationship, and find where we belong in their greater story.
North Carolina could never have risen from its beginnings as a poor, backwards state — the land that separated wealthy Virginia from prosperous South Carolina — to its present position as one of the leaders in the South without UNC.
The University has sometimes been the gadfly, pushing for reforms in North Carolina and across the South, and sometimes it’s been the stable institutional structure, providing support and legitimacy to new ideas.
Likewise, UNC would never have become a world-class research institution or a public Ivy without the never-ending support it received from North Carolina.