Samantha Grounds ’21 of Marietta, Ga., arrived on campus in August 2017 as one of Carolina’s first Lookout Scholars. This donor-funded initiative supports first-generation college students, providing the resources they need to succeed at Carolina. Samantha is part of the inaugural class of 40 Lookout Scholars and comes to UNC with an impressive set of skills, experiences and accomplishments.
After moving from Cape Town, South Africa, in 2000, Samantha went on to graduate as class valedictorian and receive the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Cup, an award presented to exceptional students in the area. She was involved in the National Honor Society, serving as the president and leading efforts to raise money to build water wells in Nicaragua. Samantha traveled to Nicaragua and Peru on mission trips, experiences that sparked her interest in helping underserved countries.
Samantha was on the varsity volleyball and soccer teams and named team captain during her senior year. She was also manager of the varsity football team and committee chair of the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy, raising more than $3,000 for leukemia research.
Samantha describes how all of these experiences have influenced her passions and what she hopes to achieve at Carolina.
Do you have an intended major or any areas of interest?
I am interested in pursuing a B.S. in public health, specifically in the environmental health sciences track. Overall, my main interest is in medical missions, and I hope to use a degree in public health as a platform for my health-care career. My dream job would be to provide medical aid to the less fortunate by traveling to third-world and impoverished countries where medical attention is both scarce and not easily accessible.
What are you most excited about in your first year at UNC?
I’m excited to grow not only as a student but also as a young adult. I’m eager to experience all of the opportunities and resources that will be available to me and challenge myself to try things that are completely new and unfamiliar. I’m also looking forward to forming new friendships that will last both throughout my time at Carolina and beyond.
What does being a Lookout Scholar mean to you?
Being a Lookout Scholar and having the opportunity to attend UNC proves that my family’s journey has been worthwhile. My parents sacrificed so much by moving my brother and me across the world to give us the opportunity for a better future, and being a first-generation student at Carolina is the key to making those dreams a reality—dreams of safety, opportunity and success. Being surrounded by and working alongside driven Lookout Scholars with differing, yet relatable, backgrounds excites me. To be in an environment with other first-generation college students who understand the significance of their education and truly appreciate the opportunities allowed to them will be motivational and inspiring. At Carolina, I have the chance to make my parents proud, honor their sacrifices and give back to the country that has given me a new identity and allowed me to improve my life.
What do you hope to achieve at UNC?
Pursuing a degree at UNC will aid me in achieving my dreams of serving others and making a difference in the medical field, providing me with an exceptional education, a supportive community and a diverse student body whom I can learn from and thrive in. While I hope to achieve academic and professional goals at UNC—such as doing well in my classes, finding an exciting internship and one day securing a good job—I personally believe that success is measured by how many lives one is able to change for the better. I hope to achieve success by using the opportunities and resources at Carolina as a means to help others both in the immediate area and around the world through service opportunities, research and awareness.