Chapel Hill is a home away from home, the place I ran to when I had a free week in the summer, the town I lingered in long after exams ended.
I graduate in less than two weeks. As I prepare for an outwardly certain future, bouts of simmering melancholy and buttoned-up excitement have punctuated my final semester at Carolina. The truth is that, while I have a job lined up and an apartment secured, I don’t really know what the next few months (years? decades?) hold.
UNC is a fundamentally uncomfortable place. I spent my first few years here learning how to cope with the immense freedom afforded to college students. My first-year dorm had more students than my entire high school; as a sophomore, I lived in a house full of rambunctious yet deeply intellectual young men; and I spent my junior year rallying against Silent Sam.
It wasn't until I became comfortable with the University’s inherent discomfort that I began to call this place my own. I settled into a diverse set of friends, examined my most basic beliefs in afternoon philosophy courses and, piece by piece, uncovered who I was and what I hoped for in the world.
Not every aspect of UNC brings me pride. In my eyes, the school’s racial blindspots are the most glaring. Out of a class of about 4,000 undergraduates, I was one of only 91 Black men when I first arrived in Chapel Hill. And the administration’s handling of Silent Sam still troubles me to this day.