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The Daily Tar Heel

COLUMN: Four years at UNC flew by at the DTH

A view of the Dean Dome and South Campus is seen from the Piper Cub.

A view of the Dean Dome and South Campus is seen from the Piper Cub.

My life was forever changed on a cold winter’s day in January 2015. I had just gotten home from swim practice and checked my phone as I walked through the back door. After setting my bags down, I opened Facebook and saw that three of my friends from high school were posting about getting into the University of North Carolina.

Immediately, I headed to my room and logged into ConnectCarolina. With excitement and worry coursing through my veins, I opened the decision.

Fast forward four years, and I’m graduating as a Tar Heel in 17 days. This is a moment I’ve been waiting for ever since I was a child. My college experience has been the best time of my life and part of that stems from my decision to join The Daily Tar Heel in the spring of 2017.

During my time with the DTH, I have worked on both the university and sports desk. These two desks gave me the opportunity to discover parts of campus and meet extraordinary people that not only enhanced my college career, but made me grow as a person. Three of my articles mean the most to me and had the most affect.

Writing an article about former North Carolina women’s soccer player Kate Morris showed me the true meaning of what it means to be a UNC athlete. In the past, I’ve played numerous sports, so I know what it’s like to be a part of a team. However, after interviewing Morris and hearing about her recovery from multiple knee injuries, it was very apparent that UNC athletes don’t just care about the number on their back, but rather the team family they’re a part of.

The next article was the hardest that I had to write at the DTH, but it is the one that I consider to be the most important. In December 2017, first-year Tyler D’Allaird committed suicide and in January 2018, I published an article about his life. Having to listen to his mother choke up during the interview and watch the emotion on his friends’ faces was very tough, but writing the article gave light to a bright soul and a national problem that needs to be addressed.

Finally, last spring I stumbled onto a beat about Horace Williams Airport and had the time of my life. Long story short, the closure of the airport was being contested. However, I’ll never forget the day I climbed into Bob Epting’s yellow Piper Cub and took off into the sky on a sunny afternoon. About 15 minutes later, Epting surprised me with the controls, giving me the opportunity to fly over the campus that I call home.

From flying around campus to meeting extraordinary people, the DTH has given me so much. As I finish my last article I want to say thank you and good luck.

@markburnett1234