“Won’t you say nice things about me when I’m gone?”

I cringe a little when I think about how long ago college graduation seems from today. When my biggest concerns were whether I was going to trip on stage (I didn’t, though I did trip walking back to my seat) or whether my long-separated parents could stand having dinner together (they were fine).

A lot has happened since I wrote my graduation post way back in May. But one thing had not:

I was still in North Carolina.

But that recently changed because of two reasons.

  1. My apartment lease finally ran out.
  2.  I’m finally employed!

But mainly because of #2. After going from “I’m so glad I’m taking a little bit of time off after college!” to “I think I’m ready to jump into work now” to “I’M GOING TO BE UNEMPLOYED FOREVER,” I’m very excited to start my career in Washington, D.C. this week.

That said, I’m going to miss North Carolina. It became my home away from home these past four years. I really do feel like I became a resident of the state and not just a student at UNC. Of all the things living here has given me beyond a bachelor’s degree, there are three things I consider most important.

  • An appreciation of Southern Culture- Although I’m convinced I came to North Carolina with a stronger appreciation of grits and collard greens than most people I ended up befriending, I absolutely did not identify as a Southerner before I arrived. Maryland isn’t a Southern state. It really doesn’t have a strong regional identity at all. So living in the South gave me something I could adopt. Sure, at first I felt uncomfortable saying “y’all.” I didn’t know the difference between barbecues in North Carolina. And my freshman year roommate was British. But through classes that interwove Southern history, exploring places outside of Chapel Hill and meeting folks with some real strong accents, I finally came around.  I still don’t like sweet tea as much as I should, but you can bet I’ll keep on saying “y’all.”
  • Fearlessness- For someone who was beyond ready to get out of their small hometown, I had my fair share of homesickness my freshman year. Leaving our comfort zone isn’t always as easy as we imagine it to be. I was the only person from my high school at Carolina, and only knew a hand full of people coming in. I had to learn to build things from scratch. I had to learn flexibility, which isn’t something that comes easy for a type-A person like myself. Whether it was living on my own for the first time or pursuing opportunities in London and New York City, going to Carolina was the first step in a very long journey. And what a valuable first step it was.
  • Friends for a lifetime- More important than anything were the people. Friends I met the first week of school to people I didn’t know until senior year. People I bonded with through work, extracurriculars and those certain classes we suffered through together. People who opened their homes to me and took me in when I was feeling homesick for my own family. Mentors who guided me through tough decisions and friends who were always there to listen. Each person played such an important part of my Carolina experience, and I hope many of them will continue to play a part in my life.

So thanks Carolina, and I’ll see you again soon. Until then…

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“We’re all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”

“We’re all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”

-The Eleventh Doctor, Doctor Who

On Sunday I turned the final page on one of the most important chapters of my life: college.

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And as I sit here, my fingers are itching to type every cliche imaginable. I mean, I already started with a Doctor Who quote, which is about as much of a cliched “Breeze thing” that I could do.

I want to write that college was a dream, it changed me, it was the best four years of my life, I made irreplaceable friendships and memories to last a lifetime, and when I die I’m a Tar Heel dead.

And all of those things are true. But that’s ignoring a lot of other truths.

That at times, college was stressful and lonely. That freshman year I considered transferring more than once. That not every professor was John Keating and some classes did feel like a waste of time. That I made mistakes and spent even more time wasting time because I was too afraid of making mistakes.

But in the end, my story was a good one. It was one of trials and triumph. And as I was reminded yesterday, it was one of fate.

I was brought to UNC  five years ago as a rising high school senior for the Chuck Stone Program. I’ve written about the program and the man before.

Yet I’m still amazed how the legacy of a man who I only met once continues to change my life. That program gave me friends and a family away from home. It inspired me to take a career path to tell stories to advocate for others.

And as I sat in Carmichael Arena listening to the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication Commencement speaker Barb Lee talk, I knew he was in the room with us. You see, she knew him as well. And as a documentary filmmaker, she carries on his legacy of storytelling. In her commencement speech she gave us a mission, one that I’m very familiar with:

“There are stories to tell. There is work to do…But in order to tell these stories and in order to take these responsibilities…they’re going to have to employ another very important J-school value. And that’s to be courageous. Every day.”

In the end, there are a lot of ways I could describe my Carolina experience. I am, after all, a storyteller.

But the truth of the matter is this:

Graduation is not the end of the story. It’s just the beginning.

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How a PR Girl Turned Mad Men For a Semester

On Friday the UNC-Chapel Hill National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) Team won the District 3 Regional Competition.

I am very proud to be a member of that team.

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In fact, all of the schools who competed should be proud of their accomplishments.  It takes a village to raise a child. It takes almost that much to create an outstanding advertising campaign.

But, if you’ve read my previous posts or looked at my portfolio, you might have noticed one thing: I’m not an advertising major. 

So, how did I end up on an advertising competition team, implicitly signing away my Tuesday and Thursday nights for an entire semester? Well like most decisions made by college students, it was made for one reason: A friend told me to.

One of my friends was on the team as a junior last year and was recruiting pretty much all of our J-school friends. In fact, I was visiting her in Ireland last year the weekend she found out she was going to be on the team, so I was already aware of what NSAC was.

And so when she mentioned applying to the team, it sounded like a good idea. It certainly wasn’t the craziest thing I’ve been peer-pressured to do.

Working in communications no longer means only knowing how to do one thing or the other. Most agencies are becoming integrated or at the very least you work together with your client’s ad agency on some campaigns.

And coming off my internship at Ogilvy PR where I had worked with my intern team to build a campaign from scratch, I was excited at the prospect of getting to build another campaign for a real client.

Knowing very little about media planning and knowing I would be competing with creatives way out of my league, I happily applied to do research. I’m fairly confident my enthusiasm for joining the research team is why I made it onto the team. For the application question “Why should we pick you?” I literally responded “Because research actually is my first choice.”

That was way back in October. It’s now April, and we’re the District champs. 

It’s been a long journey. There were definitely times when I felt like a fish out of water, being one of only three students on the team who weren’t advertising majors. “Fake it until you make it,” applied.

In the end though I’m glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. Even if we hadn’t won, the experience would’ve been worth it.

I’ve learned so much about the other areas of advertising. I’ve been able to expand my research expertise. I’ve spent more time in Carroll Hall than I have for any other class.

But most importantly I’ve made friends with people I probably would not have met otherwise.

Up next are semi-finals. After that?

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VEGASSSSSS!

Coast to Coast: Spring Break in San Francisco

My final spring break I decided to spend away from the North Carolina cold and in the California sunshine.

This past week I went with the School of Journalism and Mass Communication on a networking trip to meet with alumni in San Francisco and to explore the city.

I wrote more about the networking side in a blog post for UNC Admissions here. It was a great opportunity to meet with alumni, not necessarily to get a job, but just to hear about their experiences at Carolina and beyond. At worst networking can feel forced and awkward-this wasn’t at all the case with the alumni I met.  The idea of the “Carolina Family” isn’t a cliche.

I can’t lie. The prospect of leaving Chapel Hill in two months is both exhilarating and terrifying. It was a relief to meet people who have been in my shoes.

The trip also helped me get over my East Coast bias. After living in New York this summer, I wasn’t sure any other city could live up. But San Francisco has a great urban feel while also being surrounded by stunning natural beauty. Whether you’re downtown in the heart of business or walking down the  pier, it’s just a nice place to be.

Tuesday morning I woke up early before our trip out to Silicon Valley and just sat at a sidewalk cafe and people watched. For me, it was the best way to soak in my surroundings.  It’s hard to describe, but I just clicked with the city.

Though I did try to get an “authentic experience” to test drive the city, I didn’t skip out on the tourist attractions. After all, I was on vacation! I also may or may not have accidentally gotten on a tour bus when my phone died and I couldn’t book a Lyft or Uber to pick me up at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Unfortunately my sense of direction hasn’t caught up with my love of travel.

Until next time, Cali!

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Panorama of the Golden Gate
Panorama of the Golden Gate

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Lombard Street
Lombard Street

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$25K. 25 Hours. 1 Cause.

What difference can one day make?

That’s what Carolina For the Kids is trying to find out. Starting yesterday and ending tonight at 9 p.m., Carolina For The Kids is trying to raise $25,000 in 25 hours for the N.C. Children’s Hospital.

You might have read about why I stand on this blog before.

Well, today is a reminder. I stand because it makes a difference in the lives of the patients and families. Because I am proud to be a committee subchair for an organization with such a great cause. Because I value using my life to help others.

I encourage you to donate today, even if it’s just a dollar. Carolina For The Kids is dreaming big today. A dream to make an even greater difference in the lives of others.

I hope you’ll help us make that dream a reality.

You can donate here, and learn more about our cause at http://www.carolinaftk.org/.

Carolina For The Kids