There’s a moment we’ve all experienced. It’s the moment we fall completely head over heels in love with this University. Mine happened in the seventh grade. We were supposed to write a page-long report on a historical figure. Ever the thoughtful scholar, I had narrowed the choices for my topic down to Gandhi and Dean Smith.
And I chose Dean.
That moment wasn’t love though. That was infatuation.
Love was when a few weeks later I received a package from the basketball office. My dad had sent my mediocre seventh-grade essay (complete with clip art illustrations) to Coach Smith who wrote me a letter and included a signed photo as a late 12th birthday present. He said he hoped to see me at Carolina one day.
Well, I’m here, Coach.
And I’ve spent the last four years learning that I never want to leave.
I know I’m not alone in this. I don’t know why UNC inspires such love in people. I can’t point out Chapel Hill’s distinguishing characteristic that makes people write poems, or songs or rambling columns about this place.
I don’t know what it is that makes us throw around terms like “University of the People,” and “The Carolina Way.” Terms that in any other context would be cliched and saccharine, and inspire nothing but eye rolls, somehow not only are justified, but seem like they don’t go far enough in capturing the magic of this place.
I don’t know what it is, but I know where it is.