Carroll Hall has become somewhat of a second home for me during my time at UNC. The building, which holds the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is where I take classes, work several days a week and design projects in the media labs. After spending so much time there, I am no stranger to its winding hallways and the confusing numbering of classrooms.
Those unfamiliar with the building often need help getting around, but so do those that are here daily. Because of the way Carroll was built, there is a stairway between parts of the first floor, the basement has several levels, and the third floor is practically a maze.
Perhaps the least confusing area in the entire building is a hallway between the dean’s suite and several classrooms. The hallway, parallel to the main auditorium in Carroll, is lined with dozens of plaques and name plates recognizing scholarship winners over the past several decades. It might be the simplicity of this hallway that makes it memorable, but then again, the plethora of plaques make a compelling argument.
A few weeks ago, I saw the receptionist from the dean’s suite as I was running some errands in the building. She stood in that hallway with a miniature screwdriver in hand, meticulously removing a name plate from each plaque. Curious as to what she was doing and planning to do with each of those tiny plates, I asked her about her task. She explained to me that she was removing the plates so that they could be engraved with the most recent scholarship winners’ names and a few weeks later, she would have to come to put them all back.
And with that simple description, I found myself on the verge of tears.
The first time I got lost down the crooked hallways of Carroll was more than a year before I was a confused and nervous freshman. In the summer of 2008, before my senior year of high school, I was selected to participate in the Chuck Stone Program for Diversity and Education in Media – the chance of a lifetime. Twelve students were selected nation-wide to learn from journalism professors while exploring the concept of diversity. We even published our own newspaper about our experiences, which included visiting the Daily Tar Heel, reviewing performances, and for some, interviewing basketball players.
After my short time at the Chuck Stone Program, I was convinced — I had to be a Tar Heel. I had fallen in love with the brick sidewalks, the journalism school and the simple feeling of being on campus. I returned home with memories of what I learned and where I had been – including that hallway lined with plaques.
Several months later, I began working on my application to UNC. Because my heart had already decided where I wanted to go, it was up to my mind and my writing skills to put me there (along with everything I had done in high school). One of the prompts that year was the following:
What is one thing you hope to be remembered for after four years at Carolina? What do you hope would be your most memorable contribution- to the life of our community and the experience of your fellow students?
Such a hefty question for a high school senior. What did I want the next four years to look like? What did I want to contribute to the community I so wanted to be apart of? I considered what I remembered from my time at Chuck Stone and the things I had learned there. I spent several months perfecting my response. What I came up with was the following:
Throughout the halls of the University of North Carolina, there are plaques listing names of former students and their past contributions to the school. That is how these students will be remembered. However, the kind of contribution I want to make to Carolina and the things I want to be remembered for are not accomplishments that can be inscribed on a plaque and hung on a wall. After four years at Carolina, I look forward to being remembered for the dedicated student I was and the positive influence I had on the individuals I shared those four years with.
It is my goal to be remembered as the student who pushed herself just to get one foot inside Carolina and didn’t stop there. The faculty and students that I come in contact with will hopefully recognize my determination and dedication to my education. I want my professors to remember me as the motivated student, committed to success in the classroom and in life.
Hopefully my most memorable contribution will be to the lives and the collegiate experience of my fellow classmates. I intend to have a positive influence on as many people as possible, and truly impact their lives. Through my involvement in a number of school organizations, I hope to achieve this. This will not only benefit the community, but help me to become the strong, well-rounded individual I hope to be remembered for.
Sure, an astounding accomplishment inscribed on a plaque and my own little space on some wall on campus might be nice to be remembered for, but I would much rather be remembered for the person I became and the lasting relationships I developed after four years at Carolina.
While talking to the receptionist, nearly four years after writing that essay, I was reminded of the words I had put into my UNC application. What brought me to the verge of tears was the realization that two of those little name plates she was meticulously removing were for me.
This past spring, I was awarded two scholarships from the journalism school. Because of the work I have put in during my time at Carolina and thanks to generous donors, my name would be scribbled on a tiny plate and would remain in the halls of Carroll after my graduation.
Aside from a name plate, I feel that in my three years as a Tar Heel, I have worked my hardest to follow my passion. Whether or not I have achieved all of the goals I had written about when I applied is debatable. You would have to ask my peers, professors and the organizations I am involved with, but I think they would respond favorably to my contribution to the “life of our community and experience of my fellow students.”
It’s a lot to think about over just a few short years and pretty crazy how things can come full-circle. But, hey, I got my name on a wall. Twice.