Becoming a Tar Heel

July 29, 2009

By Emily Banks ’12

(An English major from New York deconstructs the Carolina mystique, excerpted from The New York Times/ Education Life, 7-26-09):

“It would take an hour to explain to New Yorkers the complicated relationship between the [Carolina] men’s and women’s water polo teams, what I learned in my Southern literature class, or how it felt to sing the alma mater on Franklin Street after our basketball team finally took home the national championship…..

“It could be argued that you’re not truly a Tar Heel until you’ve had your first experience beating Duke. Mine was with [Tar Heel-bred] Andy and three friends. Andy relieves his tension with a series of superstitions. One is that he has to drink a Coke. Another is that he can’t pee during the game, and neither can anyone else. You’re also not allowed to respond to text messages….

“When we came back to win (101-87, no less!), I could barely stand it. Singing the alma mater… as we jogged to Franklin Street, I felt more a part of a community than I ever had….

“… I’ve never been sentimental. Carolina changed me in that way. Maybe it’s O.K. to be a little corny — and to love a place with your whole heart.”


Remembering Deil Wright

July 28, 2009

From the News and Observer, July 27, 2009:

“Deil Wright wrote the sort of scholarly texts that helped administrators of government systems make sense of their complex worlds. He spent his life shining an academic light on the process of government as a professor of political science since 1967 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Wright was also a fierce competitor on the golf course and the softball diamond, and age seemed to scarcely dim either his athleticism or his intellect.

“Wright died last month. He was 79. Since his death, Wright’s family has heard from scores of former students who remember him kindly as their greatest mentor. He had a passion for getting to know those who studied under him and keeping in touch with them.”

Click here to read the rest of the story.

10 Tips for Taking a First Year Seminar

July 23, 2009

U.S. News & World Report has lauded UNC’s “imaginative” first-year seminars in a story on how college campuses are changing. At Carolina, some of the best teachers and scholars volunteer eagerly to teach small groups of first-year students for a full semester, using the opportunity to delve into complex issues across disciplines. And more than 60 percent of the newbie students get exposed to intellectually demanding work with a top professor in their first or second semester.

Steve Reznick, UNC professor of psychology and associate dean for first-year seminars and academic experiences, offered his best insider tips on how students can get the most out of such seminars in a US News Professors Guide Blog. These are brief excerpts:

!. Explore new territory. You may not get your top choice… so be strategic.

2. Play to your strengths. Pick a class that is built upon a type of activity that you enjoy.

3. Avoid your “major.” This is an opportunity to try something new.

4. Speak up. If speaking in class makes you uncomfortable, that’s all the more reason to do it.. find your college voice.

5. Add some spice to the stew. If your seminar doesn’t seem interesting, do something to make it more engaging.

6. Show up. In a class with only 15 to 25 students, your absence will be very noticeable… If you aren’t in class, you aren’t in the dialogue.

7. Experience courses are courses. Have fun, but don’t forget to get the job done.

8. Make friends. “Make” is an active verb. Start conversations, issue invitations and organize events.

9. Establish a relationship with your instructor. This can be helpful in many ways: picking future courses, getting academic advice, and ultimately obtaining a letter of recommendation.

10. Spread the words. You’ll learn more deeply about the focal topic by describing your seminar to others and by processing their questions and observations.

— UNC’s First Year Seminars Program is now in its 10th year.

The Super Sawyers

July 23, 2009

Connie and Bonnie Sawyer of Camden County, N.C., have nine children. They should get a medal just for raising them all. But wait – all nine won full scholarships to college, including seven for Carolina. That’s got to be some kind of a world record.

Here’s the Carolina tally first:

  • Connie Sawyer III is the oldest son at age 30. He was the family’s first Morehead Scholar at UNC. He graduated in 2000 with a degree in economics. He earned a law degree from Columbia University in 2003 and became an attorney in Charlotte.
  • Joshua, 29, was a Pogue Scholar at UNC. He graduated in 2002 with a degree in biostatistics.
  • Quinton, 27, was the second Sawyer to win a Pogue. (Are you still with me?) Did we mention he also was a finalist for the Morehead-Cain Scholarship? He got two degrees from UNC — B.A. and M.A. degrees in Exercise and Sport Science.
  • Crystal, 23, and Kellie, 22, both attended Carolina on full scholarships and graduated with degrees in Exercise and Sport Science. And both are now working on master’s degrees.
  • Anthony, 21, was accepted into Harvard but, of course, he came to Chapel Hill when he was offered the Robertson Scholarship. That entitled him to attend both UNC and Duke University. He’s studying in UNC’s School of Public Health, with his sights on medical school.
  • Raymond, the “baby,” just graduated from Camden County H.S. as the class salutatorian. He’s the second member of the family to receive a Morehead-Cain Scholarship to UNC.

Two Sawyers got full scholarships at other schools: Portia, 25, went to Elizabeth City State and Bonney, 20, is studying at East Carolina.

— Thanks to The Daily Advance in Albemarle.

Alum’s web site brokers news from Iran and other hot spots

July 21, 2009

A year ago, UNC College alumnus Jonathan Tepper was working in the financial district when his friend Turi Munthe proposed an idea for a web-based news site that would distribute breaking stories and fresh images to media all over the world.

Tepper, a history and economics major who graduated with high honors from UNC in 1998, quit his job and joined Munthe in co-founding in January. This summer the London-based company made news itself for distributing coverage of the election protests direct from the streets in Iran, where mainstream western media were banned.

“The Iran coverage has been a major boost for Demotix,” Tepper told the Daily Tar Heel. “Now many major news organizations have written stories on us.”

One of Demotix’ 30 freelance photographers in Iran was arrested. He has since been released, and Demotix continues to distribute news from Iran and other hot spots, such as the Uyghur conflicts in China and refugees in Myanmar. The company’s motto is “news by you.”

“BBC, Reuters and other mainstream news platforms are turning to Demotix to get perspective from the ground, putting communication from the site’s freelance journalists and amateurs on a mass state,” said one report on CNBC during the Iran protests.

Demotix photos and stories have been in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, the Guardian, El Pais and 100 media outlets around the globe.

After graduating from UNC, Tepper studied at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, where he met Munthe.

The name Demotix comes from Demotic, the form of writing used and most easily understood by the “man in the street” in Alexandria, circa 200 B.C., according to the company’s web information. It means “of the people.”

“Our aim is to open up journalism to the people in the modern age, just as the demotic script opened up writing in ancient Egypt,” the Demotix web page states.

Learn more about Demotix.

Times food critic/alum Frank Bruni recalls bouts with bulimia

July 20, 2009

New York Times food critic Frank Bruni ’86 was slightly plump as a child and struggled with keeping his weight down throughout pre-adolescence, he recalls in a new memoir . He dieted and fasted. Then he discovered competitive swimming during his teens;  this way he could enjoy food and keep the weight off. Sometimes with the help of pale blue amphetamine pills.

When he arrived at Carolina on a four-year Morehead scholarship, Bruni decided to give up swimming, devoting spare time to writing for the Daily Tar Heel. Like many students, he craved extra helpings at the cafeteria. But without swimming to burn up the extra calories, and no more little blue pills, he needed a new plan for controlling his weight.

He thought he found the solution in furtive post-meal visits to a restroom at the rear of the student union convenient to both the cafeteria and the newspaper offices. He was aware of bulimia but concluded at the time that was not really what he was doing when he stuck his fingers at the top of his throat. He was, after all, in control, right? Then his friends called him on it.

Bruni graduated from UNC with a B.A. in English in 1986. His memoir, Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-time Eater, comes out next month. You can read an excerpt in the July 19 Sunday New York Times Magazine.

The College has a new dean

July 9, 2009

Karen M. Gil, the Lee G. Pedersen Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Professor of Psychiatry, is the new Dean of UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences.  She took office July 1.

A UNC College faculty member since 1995, Dean Gil previously served as the senior associate dean for social sciences and international programs, the senior associate dean for undergraduate education, and chair of the department of psychology.

Learn more.