Dear #UNC19…


You made it.

You’re here. The land of UNC alumni (which, per the UNC GAA includes current students, too).

To the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Class of 2019, you can ceremoniously call yourself a Tar Heel. But don’t take that moniker lightly, as undertaking Tar Heel responsibilities is a very serious matter. You are fastening yourself to a legacy of innovation, compassion and more than 225 years of history. UNC Chapel Hill quite literally changed the world with its inception in 1789 and continues to do so every day.

Sounds like a lot of weight on your shoulders? They say (and by “they,” I mean Lewis, Horne or Holtz…and The Script), “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it,” and here at Carolina, we have a special way of carrying it.

Do you see where I’m going here? If that went right over your head, I’m talking about the Carolina Way, a creed we live, breathe and die by in #TarHeelNation.

Car•o•li•na Way /kar-uh-lahy-nuh wey/ noun.

The manner, mode or fashion in which a member of the Carolina community holds his or herself accountable to their community members

It’s a way of life, man (or woman). In civics, I’m sure you learned the difference among civil rights, duties and responsibilities. Well, the Carolina Way is your Carolina duty to your fellow Heels, and it’s the fundamental reason behind every day being a #GDTBATH. It’s why you want to leave your Heelprint. Not for the fame or the fortune, though neither is guaranteed but both would be nice. You feel this deep, burning-with-the-white-hot-intensity-of-a-thousand-suns (shoutout to Timmy Turner) desire to leave your Heelprint because making a difference matters to you. It’s just a thing at Carolina. You wouldn’t be there if you didn’t care about your fellow human beings, your fellow Heels and even the dOOkies (special circumstances, only).

But with that being said, it’s hard being an upstanding, genuine, honest, ethical human being of integrity. Temptation is everywhere. But in the words of Peter Burke, you do what’s right and let the pieces fall where they fall.

Now, we all have our moments of weakness, and lately, UNC’s moments have been splashed across headlines and evening news specials, but the Carolina Way is what makes Chapel Hill a place of magic with fairy dust you can take with you wherever you go. It goes beyond what your parents taught you in kindergarden and characteristic southern hospitality.

It’s why hungry students now have a resource on campus, why Deborah Paige could get her car fixed, and why you can ask the person next to you to watch your stuff when you go to the bathroom in the UL (though ill-advised by DPS).

When you enroll, you take your fellow Tar Heels to have and to hold, from that day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in homesickness and in health, until death do us part. And even then…

I’m a Tar Heel born; I’m a Tar Heel bred, and when I die, I’m a Tar Heel dead.

So #UNC19, I could give you all the advice in the world about which classes to take, which to avoid, where to find the best noms after 2 a.m. and how to boss college, but instead, I’ll leave you with this: uphold the Carolina Way. Because it truly is what you make it, and you’ll wish you had made it honorable when DPS is about to give you a ticket and some stranger claims your car is theirs to deter the evils of systematic oppression or when you’re studying at 3 a.m., have all your books/papers/notes spread out across the table and have to pee really bad.