We spent the morning of the third day in Charlotte. The first stop was West Charlotte High School, one of the schools served by our Carolina Advising Corps. Pharen Bowman is our Advising Corps member who helps the students at West Charlotte.
Lots of West Charlotte alums who also went to Carolina turned out for the event, and their love for Carolina and their high school alma mater was pervasive. The current West Charlotte students had a chance to hear from other UNC alums from their school and from Pharen about how to get to college and how to succeed.
I gave out a few Carolina T-shirts and then talked about Carolina, but I was glad to turn it over to Pharen. She made a passionate speech about coming to Carolina and how it was in reach for all the students there. When she described filling out her financial aid form, she said that every number she put down was a zero. But, in spite of her family’s financial situation, Pharen came to Chapel Hill, got a Journalism degree, and — thanks to the Carolina Covenant — left debt-free. After the students learned that, they had lots of questions for Pharen and Steve Farmer about how to get to Carolina. Pharen’s story was the most inspiring moment of the trip so far.
One of the students asked what made Carolina students so different from students at other universities. I fumbled around with some general statements and then finally said, “They love the university, and they love each other.”
Then Steve Farmer said, “I couldn’t have said it any better.”
After West Charlotte, we went to UNC-Charlotte where I visited with Chancellor Dubois and the folks from the Renaissance Computing Institute, based here in Chapel Hill but with efforts distributed to a number of the UNC system campuses. The folks at UNC-Charlotte are working on computer visualization techniques that address numerous problems in geography, urban planning and international relations.
Now we’re off to see Chancellors Brady and Battle at UNC-Greensboro and NC A&T.