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Tar Heel Preview Day, an initiative hosted by the University Office for Diversity and Inclusion, brings middle school males from underrepresented groups from across the state to UNC-Chapel Hill with the express purpose of motivating, inspiring and educating them about college preparation and the collegiate experience. Now in its fifth year, the program saw record participation, with approximately 400 students from 24 schools participating (up significantly from 260 students last year).

After a welcome by Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Rumay Alexander and Recruitment Programs Specialist Rachel Tates, UNC student leaders led an energetic hype session at Fetzer Gym and then sent students to academic sessions across campus. Spanning science, performing arts, journalism, sports, leadership and more, groups attended such sessions as “Exploring the Archives” at the Wilson Library, “Covering TV News and Sports” at the School of Journalism, “Exploring the Health Sciences Using Digital Tools” at the Health Science Library and others.

At Kenan Stadium, a large group attended the “Opportunities in Sport/Athletics” session, led by Jaci Field, director, Athletic Outdoor Facilities Management. Joined by Assistant Track and Field Coach Nicole Hudson, Trademark Licensing Operations Program Specialist Shelly Terry and Athletics Business Assistant Director Stephen Boyd, Jaci guided the group through different scenarios involving the financial and strategic aspects of building an athletics department.

The eye-opening exercise, which taught the group about the business of college sports, was followed by a panel discussion and some hard but practical truths. “The average lifespan of an NFL player in the game is three years. What do you do after you retire from professional sports before the age of 30?” Nicole asked, before advising the budding athletes to consider options such as going into athletic administration after sports and becoming an athletic director. “College athletics is transportation, not a destination,” she reminded them. “College ball is not the final stop. Only one of you will get to the NFL. What are the rest of your plans? Make straight A’s and be the best you can in everything you do.”

After the academic sessions, the groups went on a campus tour and interacted with current students before heading back to Fetzer for lunch and photo sessions with Ramses. The upbeat mood lasted throughout and students and chaperones were impressed by the experience. “For some of [these students], this may be their first time getting exposure to a college campus,” said one teacher, adding with a smile, “hopefully, they’ll aspire to go to college and maybe even attend Carolina.”

 

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