We interviewed four graduating seniors about their experience at Carolina. Here are their stories and the advice they would give to fellow graduates.
Some kids are obsessed with spy movies and TV crime shows. Senior Lauren Revis never grew out of that phase.
She credits English 105i, her first-year writing class at Carolina, with helping her realize she could make the stuff of her childhood dreams into a career.
In that class, Revis learned that one key to academic success is not being afraid to seek help. She took that advice to heart and tapped resources like the Learning and Writing Centers for help writing her resume and University Career Services for help preparing for interviews.
An opportunity she found out about at a UNC career fair led to an internship with the FBI the summer after her first year. She continued working with the organization over two more summers, learning from squads that specialized in counterterrorism, public corruption (think: white collar crimes), and gangs and violent crimes.
Revis is from Rutherfordton, about four hours west of Chapel Hill. She is majoring in peace, war and defense and sociology and pursuing a minor in Arabic.
Her senior sociology honors thesis examined how politically incorrect and humorous rhetoric is used on the anonymous social platform 4chan. Sociology professors Charles Kurzman and Howard Aldrich served as mentors on the research.
“4chan attracts people who have more violent or sexist ideas,” Revis said. “It has a reputation for starting hoaxes and conspiracy theories.”
Revis said she had no idea she could conduct undergraduate research — and complete a 70-page thesis — but now she urges all students to undertake a research project.
“It gave me confidence in my abilities and I learned technical skills like programming,” said Revis, who utilized resources from University Libraries and the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science. She presented her research at a conference in Philadelphia and received financial support from the Office for Undergraduate Research and the department of sociology for the travel. She said graduate school may be in her future.
Outside of classes, Revis has been heavily involved with sports clubs like running and climbing and served as officers for those clubs. She joined climbing club her sophomore year and absolutely loved it.
When Carolina transitioned to online learning, her clubs continued to meet through Zoom, scheduling virtual core training exercise sessions, but there are some things she will really miss — like running on campus.
“When COVID-19 hit and we were first told we would not be returning to campus, I remembered little things like I never got to finish my last intramural sports game or see people at the dining hall,” she said. “I can’t remember my last run at UNC — I always thought that would stick out in my mind. Now I can’t even remember who I ran with. And I was going to run the Tar Heel 10 Miler and participate in a regional climbing competition.”
She did experience a few bucket list items before leaving campus — rushing Franklin Street after a national basketball championship and running from campus to Maple View Farm for ice cream with the running club (about a 9-mile trek).
After graduation, Revis will be headed to a job within the intelligence community.
She said her parents have always encouraged her aspirations.
“Whatever I’ve had a passion for, they’ve always supported me. They’ve known for a long time that I’ve been obsessed with this as a career,” she said.
Even though she’s sad not to finish her Carolina journey in the traditional way, with senior week and Commencement and checking more things off her bucket list, Revis tells her fellow Tar Heels to remember that it’s not the end.
“We’ll still be there for each other, and we’ll still do incredible things.”
By Kim Spurr, College of Arts & Sciences