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The Daily Tar Heel

Middle schoolers visit UNC for Tar Heel Preview Day

Students in the Carolina Millennial Scholars Program helped develop Tar Heel Preview Day in order to teach young males about higher education.

Marco Barker, director of the Carolina Millennial Scholars Program, said when the Carolina Millennial program began four years ago, schools and community organizations asked people from the program to visit their students and talk about education.

“We knew that we didn’t have the capacity to do that for schools across the area, and so we began thinking about how can we create an experience that does provide some exposure to students in a way that is cost effective and certainly efficient,” Barker said.

The one-day program specifically targets sixth through eighth graders, with a majority of the participants coming from Orange and Durham counties, said Michael John, spokesperson for the event. He said nearly 20 different schools were represented.

“The idea behind Tar Heel Preview Day is to engage middle-school males early on, to provide them with access and exposure and to allow them the opportunity to experience Carolina,” said Chief Diversity Officer Taffye Clayton. “We hope they see themselves as excited and thoughtful about how they can pursue higher education.”

Students worked with the School of Medicine to extract DNA from a strawberry and were introduced to the academic components of rapping by the Institute for the Arts and Humanities.

“The idea is for them to have an experience with a faculty member because we think that leaves an important mark on their memory,” Clayton said. “Our faculty, based on their work and their research, should really excite the young people”.

Student group showcases gave the middle schoolers an opportunity to see how culture is celebrated and recognized on campus.

The day ended with a panel about the path to college and college life with representatives from the Carolina Millennial Scholars Program and admissions on the panel.

“This is a very important aspect of the program because we understand they may not have that type of access where they are and certainly not the access to Carolina in the way that we provide it,” Barker said.

Middle schoolers who attended the program are contacted throughout the year with information about high school and other opportunities at UNC and around the state.

“Issues of access and student engagement are critically important, and I think when you engage and excite students early on about collegiate experiences that you get them thinking early on about their future and about their aspirations,” Clayton said.

“We want to inspire students to really pursue their fullest potential, and I think as a part of that, higher education is part of the development of the potential of young people.”

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