Experience matters

Karen Gil (photo by Jackie Fritsch)

Karen Gil (photo by Jackie Fritsch)

That familiar sea of blue will soon fill Kenan Stadium again, as our latest crop of Carolina graduates takes on the world. This issue of the magazine reminds me about how the practical experiences we give our students during their time at UNC are helping to shape their future lives.

Six recent alumnae, all of whom benefited from our entrepreneurship minor, are now working for search giant Google in New York City, California and Seattle. Two of those Tar Heel grads got their start as Google interns. Our e-minor, housed in the department of economics, offers classes, internships and real-world lessons from entrepreneurs. Nearly 1,000 students have enrolled in the e-minor since it launched in 2005.

The e-minor is helping students start ventures even while they’re still in school. For instance, one of our students has developed a wallet with GPS technology to prevent loss and theft. It’s now being sold on Amazon.com and Brookstone.com.

In this issue we also highlight global programs in Singapore and Hong Kong that are giving an edge to students who are gaining experience in two of the finance and cultural capitals of the world.

David Crawford was the first student to enroll in our unique joint degree program with the National University of Singapore. He graduated in 2011 and now works in Washington, D.C., for Accenture, one of the largest international consulting firms in the world. Jennifer Yeh completed the joint degree in 2013 and remains in Singapore today, where she works for a private tutoring company.

Our alumni and friends are helping to make many of these opportunities possible. Jashawnna Gladney had never been out of the country or even flown on an airplane until she studied in Hong Kong last summer thanks to a scholarship from the Hong Kong Alumni Club.

Speaking of covering the world, journalist Thanassis Cambanis graduated in 1996 with a B.A. in history and honors in creative writing. He lives in Beirut today, and he credits his undergraduate studies and his work at The Daily Tar Heel with preparing him for a successful career as a foreign correspondent.

Back at home, Chapel Hill has always had a vibrant music scene. Popular professors Bland Simpson and Mark Katz are teaching new courses with hands-on learning that are reaching students interested in contemporary music, beat-making, DJ culture and songwriting.

Our donors understand the value of real-world experiences. Chris Joy ’13 had a great summer internship working in Carolina’s fluids laboratory — home to the huge wave tank in Chapman Hall. It inspired his parents, Bob and Molly Joy, to set up an endowment to support experiences outside the classroom for math students.

And thanks to private support, a new internship program that will begin in fall 2014 will provide semester-long internships in the Triangle area for our brightest psychology undergraduate students.

Our faculty and students in psychology are already applying their laboratory experience to a real-world challenge — drug and alcohol addiction — by trying to unravel the scientific clues to addictive behavior.

As you reflect on your own college education, we hope you enjoy reading in these pages about the many experiential learning opportunities that are providing our students with amazing advantages today.

—     Karen M. Gil, Dean