A Letter to the best university in the world…
Carolina, my priceless gem, you have given me the experience of a lifetime. I have worked hard. I have persevered. I have succeeded. I have failed. I have cried just as hard from laughter as I have from sadness. I made countless mistakes and caught even more lucky breaks. I have rhymed haha. I’ve gone through loss and heartbreak. I’ve found love and friendship. I learned how to be unapologetically black; learned that being a proud brown woman is nothing to be sorry about. I began to learn how to think for myself. We worked together and grew together. We both have a long way to go. But you, Carolina, UNC Chapel Hill, have given me things that no other college or experience could have- a chance to call myself a Tar Heel and make my place in your history- and for that I am eternally grateful. So I thank you for these 4 years and giving me the opportunity to take this journey with you.
– Alicia Joy McDowell, class of 2016
1. Ebony Readers/Onyx Theater (EROT)
I can’t say enough about my EROT family. I never thought I was talented enough to perform my poetry on stage. EROT gave me the confidence to use my voice as a platform and the space to develop my writing. I learned so much about myself and I formed lifelong friendships. EEROOTTT!
Favorite moment– Our love show my senior year was 2 nights before my birthday (naturally since I am a Valentine’s Day baby) and our president, Resita, invited fellow EROT member, James, whose birthday was the 13th and I on stage and got the entire audience to sing us happy birthday. In that moment I knew that no other experience would trump the time I spent in EROT. That night I also performed one of my favorite pieces, Cupid’s Daughter, and I was happy to see that another piece I wrote that 2 other members performed was received really well by the audience. It has been my favorite EROT show.
2. UNC Women’s Rugby
I only played on the UNC Women’s Rugby team for two years, but this was definitely one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. It kept me in physically the best shape of my life, even though I broke my collar bone my freshman year and had to get surgery. Playing on the team gave me a physical and mental toughness that I know I benefit from to this day. Also, my teammates were some amazing girls that I wouldn’t have traded for anything.
Favorite moment– winning the Queen City 7’s Championship in Charlotte, NC.
3. Serving as MADO Chair for Student Government
I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have gotten my job now without my experience in Student Government. I was the Policy Chair for the Multicultural and Diversity Outreach committee, which also made me a member of the Student Body President’s cabinet. I enjoyed being so close to policy makers on campus and having that access to the chancellor and board of trustee members. It was a huge opportunity for me to develop my leadership skills and learn how to take initiative.
Favorite moment – Our annual UNITY Dinner was a huge success. It took so many planning hours, late nights, and pulled strings to pull it off with our budget, but having the majority of student leaders and THE Dr. Taffye Benson Clayton attend made it all worth it.
4. Being a Pre-College Mentor for Upward Bound
My passion for youth led me to become a Pre-College Mentor with Upward Bound. During the summer, the days were long, hot, and stressful, but knowing that our program was the reason many of those teens applied to college made it worthwhile. The staff was also amazing. Shoutout to Donovan, Deanna, and Jonathan!
Favorite moment – One of our summits during the summer was camping out in the woods. I hate camping, but on the second night all the staff and students participated a ‘face your fears’ activity around a campfire. Let’s just say, things got really vulnerable and personal, and the experience made the Upward Bound family closer than ever before.
5. UNC Dance Marathon
Every year, the UNC Dance Marathon (now I think it’s called Carolina For the Kids) trolls people to sign-up to participate in one of the biggest fundraisers on campus. I finally got suckered into signing up, but I am so glad I did. I was interning at a corporate headhunting firm and managed to raise my money really quickly, so it took a lot of stress off of participating.
Favorite moment – Finally sitting down after 24 hours on my feet!
6. Seeing First Lady Michelle Obama
I got to see Michelle Obama at UNC while President Obama was campaigning for his second term. It was amazing. She was amazing. I want to be her when I grow up.
Favorite moment – She dove into a “Let me tell ya’ll why I love my husband..” spiel and I knew in that moment that black, successful love was real.
7. Driving to Houston, TX for the Final Four game
As stressful as it is, I love me some Carolina Basketball. Only for them would I drive 17 hours with my best friend to see the team play in the Final Four game. Despite the heartbreaking loss to Villanova in the championship game, I was definitely grateful for the opportunity to cop those $40 tickets and sit so close to the court.
Favorite moment – Beating Syracuse and celebrating with the other students that were also crazy enough to travel to Houston.
8. Rushing Franklin after beating Dook sophomore year
It was lit but I literally don’t have any pictures to post haha
9. Freshman year DHOE
There was way too much that happened that night to tell it all but the weekend included 4lokos, house parties, fights, and bailing someone out of jail…and my collar bone was broken. This was back when we had East End, Players, Pulse, Rec Room, and the Glass House. The weekend was basically a movie and somehow to this day all we do is laugh at everything that happened and call it the most lit weekend ever.
10. Miss Krimson & Kream
Although I didn’t place, I had the time of my life with the fellow contestants of the Miss Krimson & Kream pageant. I performed my poetry for the first time, which gave me some much needed confidence on stage and led me to audition for EROT the next year. I also had so much fun with the Nupes. Theta Omicron will always have a special place in my heart ❤
Favorite Moment – Winning the Shimmy Like a Nupe contest with my fellow K&K contestants. Most lit LDOC out of all 4 years.
That’s it! What are some of your most memorable experiences? I would love to hear!
P.S. Shoutout to the people who were a huge part of my Carolina experience but weren’t in any pictures.