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Making the Most of Opportunities

I grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina, and am the eldest of two kids. Throughout my education, my family has always supported me in my endeavors. I graduated salutatorian from Dudley Science, Math, and Technology Academy and then entered the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, as a Pogue Scholar on a full academic scholarship. Recently I received my letter of acceptance into UNC?s School of Nursing, being one of the few minorities who applied to the program. I would not have achieved this goal were it not for the niche I established for myself since entering UNC. This allowed me to take advantage of the various opportunities that the university offers to expand students? horizons and achieve success.

Networking With Campus Peers

As a recipient of the Joseph E. Pogue Scholarship at Carolina, I was immediately absorbed into a close network of other scholars of various ethnicities. We have socials and other events that allow us to share ideas, aspirations, and obstacles. During these events, we learned about the different experiences of our fellow scholars, and we compared ways of playing an active role in the community. For example, one of my Pogue associates told me of some volunteer opportunities in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro public school system. Now, as a reading buddy with two students every week, I am able to have a positive influence on the lives of others, while doing something that I love at the same time.

Getting Involved in Campus Organizations

At an institution with over 300 recognized organizations and the opportunity to form your own new one, I was constantly exposed to various means of getting involved in campus life, especially as a way of becoming more cultured and improving myself. Whatever your hobby, talent, or interest is, there is an organization for you. I am a member of the Opeyo! Dance troupe, the Rams Club, the Minority Student Recruitment Committee (MSRC), and the National Society of Achievement Scholars, to name just a few. I am particularly involved with MSRC because I wanted to reach out to other minorities the way others at Carolina reached out to me. I wanted to show others how Carolina offers many opportunities for minorities to succeed in whatever career they chose. Being a member of these organizations has made me more aware of pertinent issues not only at Carolina, but in the nation and the world. I highly recommend others to join an organization of their interest to ?fit in? in an atmosphere that is new and can seem unfamiliar. It is important to do this because the relationships established with people and places will prove beneficial in the future, especially when it comes time to pursue a career.

What About the Classroom?

Being at a predominately white university, I am often one of only a very few minorities in a large classroom setting. I turn this situation into a positive one. First, through this experience, I can exchange ideas with nonminority students, which allows me to expand my knowledge of other cultures. Second, this will allow me to grow not only socially, but academically as well. It is very easy to get discouraged in such a large environment of about 17,000 undergrads, but it is important to make yourself known.

The learning environment is very flexible. In addition to office hours with the professor, there are places such as the Math Help Center, the Writing Center, and the Learning Center on campus to help me with my studies. It is essential that these opportunities are utilized, because for one, they are free! They also provide more personal contact to accommodate the learning styles of all students.

The Future

Upon my graduation, I plan on working in the area as a registered nurse and may later attend graduate school to obtain a Master?s Degree in Anesthesia. For those who would like to pursue a career in nursing, my advice would be to stay focused and utilize every opportunity of help available. I often find myself becoming a ?study hermit,? where I feel that I absolutely must study 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. However, this will drive you insane!!! Keep a balance between personal and academic life. If you ever feel overwhelmed, you probably are, so just take a break and relax. You should be doing something that you enjoy, so keep that in mind and have fun!

Tiffany F. Deans is currently a sophomore student pursuing an undergraduate degree in nursing at UNC, Chapel Hill. For further information, please e-mail Tiffany at