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Saturday June 25th

Carolina Kickoff highlights diversity and deep connections for first-years

Students attended the 2019 Convocation on Sunday, Aug. 19. Convocation is regarded as the beginning of every incoming-student's journey at Carolina, as speakers including the Chancellor, deans from various departments and student leaders welcome students to the university.
Buy Photos Students attended the 2019 Convocation on Sunday, Aug. 19. Convocation is regarded as the beginning of every incoming-student's journey at Carolina, as speakers including the Chancellor, deans from various departments and student leaders welcome students to the university.

First-year students gathered for the 73rd annual Carolina Kickoff last week, a program aimed at helping incoming students transition into life at UNC. The three-day event consisted of team and self-building activities, campus-life exposure and advice from 40 student counselors. 

Campus Y, UNC's hub for social justice, sponsors Carolina Kickoff. The Center hopes to teach first-years about embracing the diversity present on campus and within the class of 2023 through its program's curriculum. 

Carolina Kickoff is held at New Hope Camp and Conference Center, a summer camp located about 20 minutes outside of the University.Students were able to move into their dorms the day before participating in program activities on Aug. 14. 

Multiple students learned about the program through friends who had attended in the past or through advertisements on social media. Out of hundreds of students who applied this year, 175 first-years were invited to join. 

“Before I applied, I was looking into things that would let me move in early and give me an early experience on campus,” first-year Max Palmer said. “Carolina Kickoff offered this.”

Along with the unique opportunity to move in early, Carolina Kickoff allows students to make new friendships with other first-year students.

“Unlike all of the other early programs, I heard that in Kickoff, you make a lot of long-lasting friendships,” first-year Jessica Uba said. “I also heard it was more social justice-oriented, so I wanted to see what it was talking about.”

Over the course of the three days, attendees were separated into groups and participated in team-building activities meant to foster a deeper connection between attendees and the counselors.

“They are really secretive about what they do and with the schedule,” Palmer said. “Every activity was a surprise to all the students, which I really liked.”

A variety of campus organizations visited the camp to give attendees a glimpse into FallFest. Students received more information about potential activities they could join once school started. 

"They brought a cappella groups and student organizations from campus to give us opportunities to learn about different things to get involved with once we got on campus," first-year Hunter Edkins said. 

The students also attended breakthrough sessions in which counselors shared their personal experiences and hardships while at UNC, ranging from sexual assault to racial identity. These sessions allowed students to connect with the counselors present. 

“It made you realize that you are not alone and that other people went through this and can help me,” Uba said. “Each student could relate to at least one person.”

Attendees also learned camp and school cheers, including the alma mater. It was the first time some had sung this song since becoming students at UNC, Edkins said. 

After attending this year's event, Uba said she recommends other first-years apply for next year's Carolina Kickoff. 

“At first it’s very overwhelming, but then you get right into it,” Uba said. “If you’re a shy person, you would never be able to guess because you get so caught up in what you’re doing. I want to be a counselor next year.”

@lindzbanks

university@dailytarheel.com

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