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|Abstract||This collection contains recorded interviews, transcripts, and other related material from the UNC Story Archive project. Initiated in 2020, The UNC Story Archive is a collection of short, conversational recordings that document the voices and experiences of historically under-represented, misrepresented, or silenced narratives from people affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Stories are recorded in collaboration with student and alumni groups and document a wide range of experiences including those of LGBTQIA+ students and staff, first generation college students, and life during COVID-19 pandemic.|
The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.
Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.
Initiated in 2020, the UNC Story Archive is a collection of short, conversational recordings that document the voices and experiences of historically under-represented narratives as part of a larger effort to preserve a full record of campus history in the Wilson Special Collections Library. Stories are recorded in collaboration with student and alumni groups. The "Story of Us" recordings were developed in collaboration with the Carolina Pride Alumni Network, which provided financial support for the project.Back to Top
This collection contains recorded interviews, transcripts, and other related materials such as photographs from the UNC Story Archive project. Stories are recorded in collaboration with student and alumni groups and document a wide range of experiences including those of LGBTQIA+ students and staff, first generation college students, and life during COVID-19 pandemic.Back to Top
The "Story of Us" is a collection of recorded stories about the experiences of the LGBTQIA+ Carolina alumni. This collection of audio recordings sheds a light on more than five decades of the rich history of the Carolina LGBTQIA+ community in the words of those who lived it. The "Story of Us" was developed in collaboration with the Carolina Pride Alumni Network, which has provided financial support for the project.
|Digital Folder DF-70096/10||
Alford, Larry P., January 2021 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/10
During a remote recording session, Larry Alford (Class of 1973, MSLS class of 1977) describes being a student during this turbulent era and how carefully he had to navigate life as a Gay man on campus and in North Carolina generally. Alford explains how he and other Gay men maintained a "firewall…between your Gay life…and, in my case, my straight friends" for their safety and that finding a community of Gay men had to be done "very, very secretive[ly]." His career as a librarian began as a student worker in 1970 and, while later working as the head of the Circulation Department, Alford recalls the University librarian coming in "to sort of warn me [about being Gay] by actually talking about another person who was an unmarried male in the department." It was during this time that Alford read about "five or six people, Gay men, who had some sort of rare cancer, and it was being called the "Gay cancer"; many of the Gay men he met at UNC lost their lives to AIDS. Alford shared that, although "there are negative experiences," he would not change a thing about himself and found that, like Armistead Maupin's Tales from the City, being Gay was "the very joy of his life and it was fundamental to who he was."
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Gay male
|Digital Folder DF-70096/4||
Bar Am, Maia, November 2020 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/4
During a remote recording session, Maia Bar Am (class of 2001), a varsity fencer at UNC, describes the sense of family she found in UNC’s fencing team. Bar Am found support and acceptance when she came out during her sophomore year and became more involved with B-GLAD. She also found support from her fencing teammates and coach when, during her junior year, Bar Am became seriously depressed and spent time in student health and the crisis clinic. Reflecting on this time, Bar Am notes that "my UNC friends truly became family and I know I would not be who I am today without them."
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Bisexual, Cis-woman, Gender-nonconforming; Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
|Digital Folder DF-70096/11||
Crouthamel, Jeremy February 2021 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/11
During a remote recording session, Jeremy Crouthamel (Class of 2009) shares how "getting to where I am today...an Out and proud Gay man whose self-doubt ended, and life began" was "a bit of a messy slow burn." Crouthamel describes committing to campus religious organizations after years of "internaliz[ing] that this was something that I needed to be ashamed of." But, after being encouraged to "dig deep" in his classes and seeing "campus leaders who were LGBT and were happy...I began to feel a tension that was really going to have to come to a head at some point." After experiencing great love, great loss, and allowing himself to fall in love again, Crouthamel said "You know what? This is who I am" and "[I] started to come out to my chosen family." Jeremy Crouthamel shares "that journeys aren't linear" and that "all these years later, I am not only at peace with who I am but proud of who I am."
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Gay male; Ethnic or Racial Identity: Caucasian, white; Pronouns: He, Him, His
|Digital Folder DF-70096/5||
Culpepper, Michael Lee, December 2020 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/5
During a remote recording session, Michael Culpepper (Class of 1968, J.D. class of 1974) describes how he saw the attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community change while he served active duty in the Navy between his time as an undergraduate in the 1960s and later as a law student in the 1970s. Although Culpepper "was able to have a gay life in law school," being a Navy Reservist meant that he "was still not open about being gay [because] being gay was a reason to get discharged from the Navy." Culpepper became "a lawyer for a number of the gay people in Chapel Hill at the time," including a beloved man who lived at the Friendly Castle, and began to see members of the community die of the then mysterious disease called GRID, later renamed AIDS. Culpepper spend twenty-three years renovating a World War I era house on the UNC campus, where all "my roommates were gay."
Pronouns: He, Him, His
|Digital Folder DF-70096/20||
Curtis, Jonathan, March 2021 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/20
During a remote recording session, Jonathan "Jon" Curtis, former Associate Director for Student Activities and Student Organizations at Carolina (1986-2012), shares the joys and challenges of supporting diverse communities of students on campus. Curtis says how he found the Student Union "was a place that made me feel at home" and "for an LGBTQ person, I found that the atmosphere at a union was a welcoming one, was one that embraced differences of gender, of sexuality, of race, of faith, disability." During his time at UNC, Curtis saw "a lot of different things come out of the union," including the Black Cultural Center (now the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History) and the Carolina Gay and Lesbian Association (CGLA), then the campus' LGBTQ student organization. Curtis explains how Student Congress made things "pretty unpleasant with minority groups, and the CGLA was one of the most fiercely attacked" and on a National Coming Out Day during the 1990s students in The Pit were attacked with "a terrifically childish demonstration by one of the conservative groups." Despite the challenges and some personal attacks, Curtis "feel[s] privileged to have seen the changes I saw during my years there, and I hope in some small way that some of what I did there was a lasting positive effect with the students, not just then but through their lives."
Gender Identity, Sexuality: I don't owe allegiance to this identity or sexuality; Ethnic or Racial Identity: Free-spirited citizen of the world unbeholden to any one community; Pronouns: He, Him, His, (but I don't owe allegiance to this identity and sexuality)
|Digital Folder DF-70096/6||
Fisher, Christina, December 2020 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/6
During a remote recording session, Christina Fisher (Class of 1990, M. Ed. class of 1997) describes how moving to France after earning her bachelors in French helped her get in touch with her sexuality when she saw two women kissing at a club in Lyon and "I really couldn’t take my eyes off of them." Fisher returned to North Carolina and worked in education, which forced her to remain deeply closeted because, as a friend bluntly warned her, "if anybody in this county ever finds out [you] will be out of here faster than you can blink." As a graduate student, Fisher went to campus counseling feeling "a lot lost" because "not being your whole self" is "psychologically damaging," where she connected with a counselor who was also part of the LGBTQ+ community and helped her "find my place in the world."
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Female, Lesbian; Ethnic or Racial Identity: White; Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
|Digital Folder DF-70096/12||
Gray, Jr., P. Allen, January 2021 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/12
During a remote recording session, P. Allen Gray, Jr. (Class of 1966, M.S.N. class of 1973, Ph.D. class of 1982), describes how, at the age of thirty, he "experienced coming out" and his realization "that my greatest challenge was embracing my identity and developing self-confidence as a Gay man." Gray explains that the lack of support on campus during his undergraduate years kept him "pretty much on my own; a loner" because he "didn’t know or trust counseling personnel with whom I could discuss academic or personal concerns." After being recruited into the Navy and serving active duty for two years, Gray found himself back at Carolina for a master's program. This is when he "became aware that there was a very active gay subculture both at UNC and in Chapel Hill in general." Gray describes how his work with the Carolina Gay Association (CGA) and counseling services allowed him to "provid[e] service for people who need service" and he "developed a sense of community at that time that I had never previously experienced in my whole life."
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Gay man
|Digital Folder DF-70096/21||
Hultquist, Katie, August 2021 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/21
During a remote recording session, Katie Hultquist (Class of 1996), a Morehead Cain Scholar from San Francisco, California, shares how she is "proud to have brought my own strong, feminist voice into spaces like the Greek system" to advocate for LGBTIAQ, BIPOC, and women's rights on campus. Hultquist reflects on making the "nerve-racking" decision to "step up and out in front of the entire community and many strangers" in The Pit on National Coming Out Day in 1995, saying "I never wanted to apologize for who I was." Although Hultquist found a supportive community through B-GLAD, the Morehead Cain scholars, Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, and activist organizations, she explains that it "felt like LGBTIQ people and issues just weren't very visible at the time, though we had our mostly underground culture." Hultquist is thankful for the friends she made as a student activist on campus and their experiences at Carolina led them to lead "lives committed to social justice work, so I still feel like we're together in these critical movements."
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Woman/Female, Queer/Lesbian; Ethnic or Racial Identity: White (though not trying to avoid this label but it is also not important to me); Pronouns: She, her, hers
|Digital Folder DF-70096/27||
Isaacson, Sara, November 2021 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/27
During a remote recording session, Sara Isaacson (Class of 2014) describes her time as a student and cadet in the UNC Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship program. Isaacson recounts her coming out experience, made more difficult by the US Military’s policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" at the time of her coming out. She describes the intense emotional and psychological pressure this put her under. Isaacson talks about realizing that she was queer, coming out to her commander, and her removal from ROTC, and subsequent leaving UNC due to her scholarship being revoked. Isaacson explains that she was later able to return to UNC after "Don't Ask Don't Tell" was repealed and her lawsuit ended.
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Cis woman, Queer; Ethnic or Racial Identity: White; Pronouns: she, her, hers
|Digital Folder DF-70096/22||
Kleinschmidt, Mark, May 2021 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/22
During a remote recording session, Mark Kleinschmidt (Class of 1992; J.D. class of 2000), a first-generation student and former mayor of Chapel Hill, shares how "one of the most profound relationships I have in my life is that between myself, this university and the community it sits in." Kleinschmidt explains how he knew he had to be a Tar Heel when in November 1987 Joe Herzenberg became the first openly Gay elected official in the South and "as a closeted, Gay teenager [I knew] that was the community I was going to, I was going to escape my closet, and I was going to find a community that was going to embrace me." Once at Carolina, Kleinschmidt shares how being a mixed-race child adopted by a "pretty lily-white family" and a Gay man made it even more difficult to find his place on campus. After five years of teaching in Charlotte post-graduation from UNC, Kleinschmidt made good on his promise to himself to return to Chapel Hill. In 1997 he entered UNC's law school, determined to become a lawyer who would fight for at-risk populations. While in law school, Kleinschmidt became one of the first only Gay speakers of the UNC Student Congress and reached out to Mathew Shephard's community after his murder. Kleinschmidt eventually became mayor of the community that he loved so much, sharing that he is excited to see "young people climbing that ladder and reaching heights that I could have only ever dreamed of."
Gender Identity, Sexuality: I identify as a gay cis man; Ethnic or Racial Identity: I am mixed-race. Words to describe me include: Chamorro, Guamanian, Caucasian, white, AAPI, English, Scottish; Pronouns: He, Him, His
|Digital Folder DF-70096/23||
Kozuch, Elliott, October 2021 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/23
During a remote recording session, Elliott Kozuch (Class of 2015) shares how their involvement with on-campus feminist organizations and the Women's and Gender Studies Department helped them to make sense of their sexuality and gender identity. They describe how the campus’s feminist student groups worked together to respond to violent images shared on campus by right-wing anti-choice groups who had no connection to the university. Kozuch was involved with Feminist Students United, which led them to their current career path in national pro-choice policy work. Kozuch speaks about how their courses at UNC were a place where both intellectual work and personal reflexive understanding were encouraged. Kozuch describes how they first realized that they were transgender within a classroom. Kozuch finally places the Campus Y at the center of much progressive student activism and mentions how the communal space of the Y fostered collaboration. Kozuch says that the transitory nature of life at universities, especially that most students are only there for four years, makes organizing difficult.
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Non-binary, Bisexual; Ethnic or Racial Identity: White; Pronouns: They, Them, Theirs
|Digital Folder DF-70096/28||
Lau, Michael, October 2021 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/28
During a remote recording session Michael Lau (Class of 2012), describes his experiences of being an Asian-American and queer person on campus, and coming out as gay to himself and others while in his first year on campus. Michael describes Cobb Dormitory as a place where many gay students lived, and how he and his first year roommate came out to each other there. Michael talks about his first kiss in the Arboretum on campus and social groups of gay people. Michael also talks about leadership activities, getting involved in activism, and gay nightlife.
Ethnic or Racial Identity: Asian; Pronouns: He, Him, His
|Digital Folder DF-70096/29||
Levy, Michael, November 2021 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/29
During a remote recording session, Michael Levy describes his time as a student at UNC Chapel Hill in the 1990s. Levy talk about being in student government and voting to withdraw funding from the B-GLAD LGBTQ+ student group. Levy describes being closeted at the time of his undergraduate experience at UNC and struggles to come to terms with his sexuality. Levy talks about spending time abroad and a trip to London with a gay professor that helped him to eventually come out. Later, Levy talks about graduate school and his eventual coming out of the closet to friends and family.
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Male, Gay; Ethnic or Racial Identity: LGBTQ; Pronouns: He, Him, His
|Digital Folder DF-70096/30||
Maris, Amanda L., July 2021 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/30
During a remote recording session, Amanda Maris (Class of 2000) shares how her activism for LGBTQ+ rights, vulnerable communities, and social justice while a student at UNC continues in her work as a District Court Judge. Maris explains the difficulty of transferring from Smith College, where "everybody just act[ed] however they wanted," to UNC during a time when "many weren’t comfortable being Out." After joining B-GLAD (Bisexuals, Gays, Lesbians, and Allies for Diversity), Maris "immediately felt a sense of urgency to address the unfriendly environment" she felt on the UNC campus, launched the "Visibility Committee," and the committee organized a campus wide "Visibility Day" on National Coming Out Day in 1998. Maris credits her experiences with B-GLAD, as well as other Carolina social justice groups, for motivating me "to be an activist, to speak up on issues as much as I felt I needed to [at] Carolina."
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Female, Queer; Ethnic or Racial Identity: Caucasian, Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
|Digital Folder DF-70096/24||
McCormick, Carter, June 2021 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/24
During a remote recording session, Carter McCormick (Class of 2015), one of the first in his family to attend college in the United States and a proud Jew from Florida, describes how his UNC Story is shaped by "community, the development of community, and the development of spaces." McCormick wanted to be a part of a social fraternity at UNC and enthusiastically attended rush events his freshman year. After not getting called back, McCormick learned that the selection committee said, "I was 'too insert homophobic slur here' to be in the organization," and was disheartened. When he learned that friends were met with antisemitic remarks from other fraternities, McCormick worked with them to start a UNC chapter of Zeta Beta Tau in 2012, a national Jewish fraternity that is open to all. Although McCormick knows fraternities in general have much work to do, he is proud to have helped "create an organization and space for people in an institution that wasn't designed for them."
Gender Identity, Sexuality: LGBTQ+; Ethnic or Racial Identity: White, Jewish; Pronouns: He, Him, His
|Digital Folder DF-70096/31||
Palmquist, Ian, March 2021 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/31
During a remote recording session, Ian Palmquist (Class of 1999) describes how after a very challenging first year he got involved with B-GLAD (Bisexuals, Gay Men, Lesbians, and Allies for Diversity) and began to "grow socially and also as an organizer" and an activist. Palmquist nearly left Carolina after he and his roommate were relentlessly harassed by their suite-mate but stayed when he found community with B-GLAD. During his time at Carolina, Palmquist found a passion for activism and became involved with B-GLAD, Grass Roots Organizing Weekend, Students Against Sweatshops, Southeast LGBTQ College Conference, NYAC (National Youth Advocacy Coalition), and Equality North Carolina. One of the most memorable nights Palmquist helped organize was a candlelight vigil in remembrance of Matthew Shepard, where people drove in from across the state and "it was incredibly moving seeing all of those people there." Palmquist reflects on the challenges of hosting the Southeast LGBTQ College Conference in collaboration with Duke, who had a very different approach to activism than Palmquist's "nuts and bolts" approach. He also shared the joys of going out to the Power Company and hosting a drag show in the Student Union featuring queens from Legends.
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Cis man, Gay; Ethnic or Racial Identity: white; Pronouns: He, Him, His
|Digital Folder DF-70096/32||
Pappas, Vasilios Basil "Bill," February 2022 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/32
During a remote recording session, Vasilios Basil "Bill" Pappas (Class of 2015) reflects on his time at UNC Chapel Hill in the 2010s. Vasilios describes coming to Carolina from Charlotte, N.C., and his social circumstances at the beginning of his college career. He talks about coming out of the closet to friends, and queer nightlife and partying. Vasilios then talks about his seroconversion and becoming HIV positive, and the devastating mental health impacts of that revelation. Vasilios recounts his efforts to suppress his emotional life after learning that he was HIV positive and the fallout from that, including being suspended from school for being a "danger to campus" after a fellow student and he had a sexual encounter. Vasilios describes his experience with AIDS and finally his getting treatment and returning to UNC.
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Non-binary, queer; Pronouns: he, him, his, they, them, theirs
|Digital Folder DF-70096/13||
Parks, Kent, January 2021 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/13
During two remote recording session, Kent Parks (Class of 1985, MSIS class of 1997), describes how he found, and flourished in, Carolina's LGBTQ community. The social gatherings, nights out, and philosophical discussions were "a necessary part of growing up and coming Out" because "all these people who had hidden a part of themselves...[were]…suddenly finding each other." Parks recounts how "Blue Jeans Day" was one of the highlights of the Carolina Gay Association’s (CGA) "Gay Awareness Week" activities, how "The Queen Mother" and others would leave cryptic messages in the Daily Tar Heel (DTH) personals, how the Sigma Alpha Gamma's "campy fun drag pageants" continue to this day, and how certain phrases were used in his circle of friends. The threat of homophobia persisted on campus and Parks explains how “the biggest homophobic incident I experienced in college, which was actually quite devastating” affected him and a service fraternity pledge he befriended. Parks also shares how "homophobia really reared its head again [because of AIDS]."
Pronouns: He, Him, His
|Digital Folder DF-70096/14||
Perry, Jess, January 2021 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/14
During a remote recording session, Jess Perry (Class of 1984), a Morehead Scholar and member of Phi Beta Kappa, describes how "my community and my Gay life really came together" during his junior year when he moved into the Castle on Friendly Street. The Castle was "a safe place for Gay friends to hang out," to have meals together, and throw parties. One of Perry’s favorite photographs is from a Red Party at the Castle with his friend, Doug, who later lost his life to AIDS. Perry was at Carolina at the "very beginning of the AIDS epidemic," the first two years of which "we were completely in the dark" and "not knowing what was happening to our community." Looking back, Perry reflects on his "wonderful friends who…are there for you during your early adventures into romance…into dressing a little different [and] being who you want to be."
Pronouns: He, Him, His
|Digital Folder DF-70096/7||
Reid-Pharr, Robert F., November 2020 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/7
During a remote recording session, Robert Reid-Pharr (Class of 1987), a Pogue scholar, describes the incredible lessons he learned both in and out of the classroom, as well as growing into his abilities as a leader "to bring people into conversation with each other." Reid-Pharr "had a very, very clear sense of myself as a person who stood inside the political life of LGBTQ organizing on campus" and did not "want to be a normative gay" in spaces representing "only men [where] just maybe there’d be another Black person there." He reflects on how he moved the Carolina Gay Association to the Carolina Gay and Lesbian Association, the "uneasy interrelation" of Black and white students, the COVID pandemic and the AIDS crisis, and how visiting campus thirty years later gave him hope. Reid-Pharr is "deeply, deeply, proud" of the people who came after him and he is "so grateful to the young people who are there now."
Ethnic or Racial Identity: African American; Pronouns: He, Him, His
|Digital Folder DF-70096/33||
Sherrill, Ken, February 2022 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/33
During a remote recording session, Ken Sherrill (PhD Political Science, Class of 1970), reflects on his experiences in Chapel Hill in the late 1960s. As a gay student and activist, Ken marched in civil rights protests and visited gay bars in the Chapel Hill area. Ken recounts his upbringing in Brooklyn, New York, and his coming out experience. He also speaks at length about his work as a political scientist on gay rights activism and his membership in the Gay Activists Alliance. Sherrill describes a crystallizing moment for him while marching down Franklin Street in the 1960s and being yelled at for being a communist, Jew, and homosexual. He realized that though the heckler did not actually know him, they assumed these things because he was marching for integration, and that all of these oppressions were bound up together.
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Male, Gay; Ethnic or Racial Identity: New York Jew; Caucasian; Pronouns: He, Him, His
|Digital Folder DF-70096/8||
Thomason, Will, December 2020 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/8
During a remote recording session, Will Thomason (Pursuing B.A. 2008-2012), a Morehead-Cain scholar and acapella singer who served in many student organizations, describes his experience of finding support and community after being "outed" in the newspaper when Psalm 100 A Capella voted him out. Thomason explains how his ousting drew a lot of attention until, "as the Twitter-verse does, it moved on." He still "felt like my world was turned upside down" while he worked to negotiate the lack of support from those in the Christian community he was formerly so involved in while embracing his full identity in New York, Argentina, and on the UNC campus.
|Digital Folder DF-70096/15||
Williams, Michael G., March 2021 #70096, Series: "1. Carolina Pride Alumni Network "Story of Us" Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/15
During a remote recording session, Michael Williams (Class of 1999), shares how a need to leave conservative small-town life, North Carolina Teaching Fellows, and a story about "so many Queer people Out and proud at UNC Chapel Hill" hanging out in The Pit lead him to UNC. Although he had started to come Out, Williams found himself "immediately back in the closet" around many of the other Teaching Fellows because "they were all from tiny little towns like I was, and a lot of them were extremely conservative." After making the decision to attend a CGLA (Carolina Gay and Lesbian Association) meeting for the first time, Williams "was absolutely terrified because at the time I had never had the experience of not being able to build a wall between regular life and Queer life" but soon became an integral member of The Lambda. Williams also describes when "right-wingers in Student Congress" broke into the B-GLAD (Bisexuals, Gays, Lesbians, and Allies for Diversity) office to steal a roster that contained contact information. He also recounts being a "peacekeeper" for North Carolina Pride, "which meant...I was basically volunteering to get beaten up first if someone was going to get beaten up," attending a Queer rights march in Washington D.C., and "the secret code system that used to be in place for people to meet each other on campus."
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Gay male; Pronouns: He, Him, His
|Digital Folder DF-70096/16||
Arrington, Alexandra, June 2021 #70096, Series: "2. UNC Story Archive Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/16
During a remote recording session, Alexandra Arrington (Class of 2005), describes how her time at "the University of the People" enabled her to "connect with people, create and grow in community with people." Arrington’s involvement with, and leadership in, campus organizations empowered her to apply what she learned in her Communications, African American Studies, and Women’s Studies classrooms to life. Her studies reinforced "yes, I have space to take up here. Yes, I have as much right as anyone else to be here. And yes, I can respond to that when I experience a microaggression or microinsult." There were challenges that Arrington endured while a student at UNC -- a white roommate who questioned "Why isn’t there a white student movement?" and expressed surprise at Arrington's acceptance to Carolina, the failure of the Daily Tar Heel to spell her dear friend Sang's name correctly, tensions with Greek life, and an internal conflict with her involvement in the Carolina Blues. But Arrington shares that these experiences "widely awakened [her] racial consciousness" and has helped her "really challeng[e] norms culturally that exist" to this day. Alexandra credits the many "fierce people" who encouraged her and contributed to her academic growth -- from her guidance counselor Ms. Mitchell to Brother Tim at her church to Dr. Melissa Exum who encouraged her to apply for an "amazing life changing world view expanding experience" studying abroad in Dakar, Senegal.
Ethnic or Racial Identity: Black Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
|Digital Folder DF-70096/1||
During a remote recording session, Sarah Bulger (MSLS class of 2022) describes the challenges of being a first-generation graduate student during COVID-19. The pandemic forced Bulger to navigate job loss and a lack of connection that she said, "left me really lost and confused." Bulger knows that she and others in her cohort "have become a part of a new generation of Tar Heel community."
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Female; Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
|Digital Folder DF-70096/17||
During a remote recording session Chris Clemmons (Class of 1988), a transfer student and first-generation college graduate from a four-year university, shares how he was "stunned and excited" when he received his admission letter to UNC after being waitlisted. Clemmons describes how different Carolina was to his previous college experience, saying "there was this feeling of excellence and competitiveness that I was not used to, and in all honesty, I was beginning to wonder if I'd made the right decision." The encouragement of Dr. Craig Allen Smith reinforced that Clemmons belonged at Carolina; "his encouragement and belief in me propelled me" and "as an adult, I've tried to remember that just believing in someone can sometimes make all the difference for them." His education in the Political Science department, as well as two of his favorite classes - "Contemporary Latin American Prose" and "The Black Experience" - really "helped me to look at problems and opportunities with a critical eye." Clemmons is proud that his family continues to attend UNC, the "University of the People."
Ethnic or Racial Identity: Caucasian; Pronouns: He, Him, His
|Digital Folder DF-70096/34||
During a remote recording session, Alex Coffin (Class of 1959) describes how he knew he "was going to be a newspaper man" and came to UNC- rather than that other school "[that’s] a few miles away from here"- to get an education in Journalism. During his first year, Coffin decided to run and soon "my community was running, and my friends were from the track and cross-country teams." During Coffin's sophomore year he thought, "Gosh, I have made the big time!" when UNC drove him and his track teammates to a meet in Tennessee in Carolina blue station wagons. Coffin reflects on his how writing for Stars and Stripes saved him when he joined the Army after Carolina, his career as a journalist, and how Civil Rights became a centerpiece of his career, saying "What I needed to know, I learned at Carolina." Alex Coffin values being part of the Carolina community and is proud that his family continues to attend UNC.
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Male; Ethnic or Racial Identity: Caucasian; Pronouns: He, Him, His
|Digital Folder DF-70096/9||
Imariagbe, Ekiuwa, November 2020 #70096, Series: "2. UNC Story Archive Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/9
During a remote recording session, Ekiuwa Imariagbe (MPH class of 2021) describes how her experience of being a first-generation American, a Nigerian-American Black woman, and a first-generation graduate student shaped her academic and professional goals. Imariagbe's family valued education and has empowered her to "be happy in what I'm doing...that's another reason why I turned to the public health route." Imariagbe encourages other first-generation American and first-generation students "to really think about what is it that they truly need, what it is they want...and to seek those things."
Ethnic or Racial Identity: Nigerian-American; Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
|Digital Folder DF-70096/2||
Jeffers, Meredith, October 2020 #70096, Series: "2. UNC Story Archive Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/2
During a remote recording session, Meredith Jeffers (MSLS class of 2022) describes the challenge of making the choice to begin a graduate program during COVID-19. The pandemic is making it a challenge for Jeffers to connect with her cohort and left her wondering if "fully committing to being a full-time student" was the right choice. Jeffers acknowledges that she and others are "just sort of stumbling our way through this" and she is "trying to have hope and faith that it is the right thing."
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Female; Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
|Digital Folder DF-70096/18||
LaRonde, Marilyn Gillespie, June 2021 #70096, Series: "2. UNC Story Archive Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/18
Marilyn Gillespie LaRonde (Class of 1961) writes about her favorite Daily Tar Heel editorial that satirized the renaming of UNC and other universities, her surprise at finding a carved pumpkin perched on the campus flagpole, and some of the "worthy nicknames" UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke, and North Carolina State University were known by.
|Digital Folder DF-70096/19||
During a remote recording session, Miriam Madison (Class of 2021), a first-generation student from Georgia, shares that attending a lecture during a visit to UNC "where they were talking about Black history and Black culture...sort of cemented my decision in wanting to attend UNC" but that the first day "was a complete shock for me...I feel like I was sort of thrust into the racism that was apparent at UNC." Madison took a break from UNC to prioritize mental health after a classmate assaulted them and CAPS failed to provide "any tools that I could utilize to... deal with the anxiety and the depression." But, upon returning, a group of new professors and graduate students "really affirmed my thinking and affirmed my identity as a Black woman on campus"; seeing the "Black women in the African American studies department" was a surprise "and it was almost like they were waiting for me...sort of like divine intervention and divine covering". Madison describes how volunteer work "fills my cup up" and "has really fueled me in making sure that Black people have material benefits in this lifetime."
Ethnic or Racial Identity: Black American; Pronouns: she/they (she, her, hers, they, them, theirs)
|Digital Folder DF-70096/25||
Merritt, W. Davis "Buzz," June 2021 #70096, Series: "2. UNC Story Archive Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/25
During a remote recording session, Davis "Buzz" Merritt (Class of 1958), a Morehead Scholar from Hickory, N.C., shares a conversation he had with John Motley Morehead III about the controversial construction of the sundial in front of the Morehead Planetarium. Merritt recalls how the sundial, which cost "about $2,240,000 in today's dollars," drew "critical, sarcastic and sometimes profane reactions from students and faculty." During a Morehead Scholar dinner, Merritt's "journalistic reflexes kicked in" when he had the opportunity to ask Morehead about the criticisms of the sundial being published in the Daily Tar Heel and DTH editor Charles Kuralt.
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Male; Ethnic or Racial Identity: White American; Pronouns: He, Him, His
|Digital Folder DF-70096/35||
During a remote recording session, Bhavya Rai (Class of 2019), describes the challenges of feeling "like I was the imposter on campus that was not supposed to be there," how she eventually found her footing, and began to thrive. Rai was excited to join many organizations her first two years, but soon found herself in a "deep depression and anxiety" which, she learned, were related to previously undiagnosed ADHD. By prioritizing her mental health, connecting with the supportive Ms. Theresa, and getting involved in CAPS, Rai soon found herself on the path to personal success and made it onto the Dean's List. Rai has since started her own business and credits her experiences at Carolina for fostering a growth mindset that "gave me true independence, identity, and belief in myself."
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Female, Bisexual; Ethnic or Racial Identity: South Asian, Indian-American; Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
|Digital Folder DF-70096/3||
Ruvidich, Allison, October 2020 #70096, Series: "2. UNC Story Archive Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/3
During a remote recording session, Allison Ruvidich (Class of 2020, MSLS class of 2022) describes the experience of being an undergrad student at UNC who had a "non-traditional educational background." Ruvidich describes how the Classics department became the community "I had really hoped for when I came to college," the fall of Silent Sam, and the uncertainty of never returning to campus after spring break 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ruvidich hopes that the UNC community will "continue to strengthen those bonds because that really is how we build our UNC."
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Non-binary, Queer person
|Digital Folder DF-70096/36||
Simmons Bennett, Adreonna, July 2021 #70096, Series: "2. UNC Story Archive Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/36
During a remote recording session, Adreonna Simmons Bennett (Class of 2015), a first-generation student from Trenton, N.C., shares the challenges and triumphs of finding community as a Black woman from a rural town at UNC. Simmons Bennett explains how she found community "with other Black students and people that looked like me" as well as a supportive "home" in the Communication Studies department, where she connected with professors who cared about their students. Joining the Omega Iota chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated introduced Simmons Bennett to "five phenomenal women, who I know as my sisters now" and "gave me a purpose [by] giving back to the Carolina community." In addition to the community work Simmons Bennett engaged in with her line sisters, she also took part in protests against the University’s racist Confederate statue and to being attention to the crisis of "the violence and death that's wrought against Black bodies on a regular basis." Simmons Bennett is appreciative of the meaningful community she found at UNC and hopes that the University hires "more professors of color to relate to students" who "need that kind of mentoring from people who look like us" as well as expand its outreach to rural communities so that young people know that "Carolina is a viable option" for them.
Ethnic or Racial Identity: Black; Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
|Digital Folder DF-70096/26||
Singleton, Skyler, May 2021 #70096, Series: "2. UNC Story Archive Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/26
During a remote recording session, Skyler Singleton (Class of 2021), explains how her time at UNC was shaped by protests against the University's Confederate statue, the controversy of Carol Folt, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Singleton shares how "the second that I stepped onto UNC's campus, everything was shifting...everything was changing" and how her frustration grew with "good old boys in my history and poli-sci classes who were saying that Silent Sam was 'just a part of our confederate history.'" When the COVID-19 pandemic sent Singleton back to her parent's home in the mountains, the "immense fear and anxiety every single day" made school very difficult; "it just very much felt like a complete disconnect." Even though the pandemic drastically shaped her UNC experience, Singleton remembers the friendships, job, great classes, and achievements.
Gender Identity, Sexuality: Female; Ethnic or Racial Identity: White; Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
|Digital Folder DF-70096/37||
Sun, Gongtao, May 2021, June 2021, October 2021 #70096, Series: "2. UNC Story Archive Recordings, 2020-2022" DF-70096/37
During a remote recording session, Gongtao Sun (MBA Class of 2022), reflects on his experiences of pursuing an MBA during COVID-19 as a non-traditional aged student, a parent, and a veteran. During his first recording, Sun discusses how "going to UNC was a lifelong dream" and his career in the U.S. Coast Guard was "where I really started to develop some roots in North Carolina." Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Sun found community in the Business School, in UNC's e-sports league, and amongst veteran organizations. During his second recording, Sun shares how his experiences at UNC have shaped his approach to business, explaining how "I have been challenged to think about...how I can promote diversity." During his third recording, Sun recounts the joy of finally attending a Carolina football game and "seeing the whole town blue." Sun also shares the importance of the image of his Business School books and vest, saying how they represent the knowledge he hopes to pass on as well as "a generational perspective and generational community" that he is proud to be a part of.
Ethnic or Racial Identity: Asian Pacific Islander; Pronouns: He, Him, His
Processed by: Jessica Venlet and Cassie Tanks, March 2021
Encoded by: Dawne Howard Lucas, March 2021
Updated for additions by Jessica Venlet, Cassie Tanks, and Dawne Howard Lucas, May 2021, October 2021, January 2022, May 2022
Since August 2017, we have added ethnic and racial identities for individuals and families represented in collections. Any information regarding gender identity, sexuality, ethnic or racial identity, and preferred pronouns was provided by the interviewees.Back to Top