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How I Fell in Love with Carolina

UNC is a constant sea of Carolina Blue, filled with die hard Tar Heels who have been born and bred into the family… or at least that’s how the saying goes. But for me, and many other students, this isn’t the case. In fact, my story of how I came to bleed Carolina blue is quite different than the alma mater I chant at the end of every game.

2012

My story starts six years ago when my big sister decided to go to UNC, and I decided (out of sibling spite) I would love Dook. I wasn’t devoted to our gothic rivals, but I took every opportunity I could find to remind my sister what I believed to be true, that Dook was the better blue (which as we all know is a down right lie).

On move-in day I put on a Tar Heel shirt (the least Carolina Blue one I could find) to show my support, but on every other day I would sport Devils gear when I could find it – which became a difficult task growing up in a Tar Heel family. I would take pictures in Dook hats thinking I was so cool; pictures that are now so embarrassing and often come back to haunt me.

My sister (Bryanna MacKay) and I on her freshman move-in day, circa 2012.

2016

Flash forward two years… it’s college decision time for me and I’m an absolute wreck without a dream school or clear path. Carolina seemed like a good fit and an obvious choice being an in-state student, so I applied here and five other schools. After I got back all my decisions I was torn between UNC and Syracuse University – two schools that checked off every box on my list. They both felt like they could be my future home, each with a great journalism program and big on school spirit. They also happened to be two schools playing each other in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four.

Everything in my heart was telling me to go to UNC, but I needed a little push to solidify my decision. So I told my Dad “If Carolina wins tonight, I’m enrolling tomorrow.” He laughed it off, but I was incredibly serious. On April 2nd, 2016, the Tar Heels beat the Orange 83 to 66. On April 3rd, 2016, I paid my enrollment deposit to UNC Chapel Hill.

Image result for unc syracuse final four
THANK YOU Heels, for winning this game and deciding my fate.

Today

Since that moment, I’ve never had a single doubt in my mind that I made a wrong decision. I remember walking through the pit one day in maybe my second week on campus thinking “I’m so lucky”. After all, we get to take classes and live in the most beautiful place in the South, what more could we really ask for??

It’s the way the sun hits the quad under a mesmerizing Carolina blue sky. It’s the smile on the little boy’s face as he walks into the Dean Smith Center with the sparkling number 23 on his chest. Or the feeling of never being completely alone, even if when you feel like you’re hitting rock bottom during finals.

Calling myself a ‘dook fan’ growing up is no comparison to my dedication to this university. There is nothing that gets me more excited than waking up early on a Saturday morning to wait three hours in the cold for a spot on the risers. I will always get goosebumps during the Tar Heel lights show and tear up during the intro video (seven… seven… SEVEN national championships). And I will always¬†shout the alma mater from the top of my lungs, win or lose.

Me (front row, right) taking jump around too seriously, per usual.

I love Carolina for welcoming me in and never making me feel like I was an outsider. When I chant “I’m a Tar Heel born, I’m a Tar Heel bred, and when I die I’m a Tar Heel dead”, I really feel like that’s true and it unites me with all my classmates – no matter what our backgrounds may be.

My point is you don’t have to be born into the Carolina family to be a Tar Heel. All those who support UNC support each other, no matter who you have supported in the past. And to me, that’s why this university is such a priceless gem.