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Sophomore Malvika Choudhari has taken on a new role as a Carolina Together Ambassador in an effort to keep her friends and fellow Tar Heels safe and together in Chapel Hill this spring.

Malvika Choudhari standing outside of a UNC building

Malvika Choudhari is in her fourth semester as a Tar Heel, but she’s spent only one of them entirely on campus. The pandemic forced her to move back to Waxhaw, North Carolina, to wrap up her first year and complete the fall semester of her sophomore year.

As she studied remotely from her hometown for the past 10 months, Choudhari was missing her new home at Carolina.

“It was a little sad [leaving],” said Choudhari, who is studying biology and exercise and sport science. “I was really enjoying my time on campus. When they sent us home, [Carolina] was able to adapt pretty well to the situation. So, classes and everything were still fine, but it was the social aspect that was unfortunate to lose. You could go from having plans every Friday of going to Franklin Street for dinner or lunch, and then you’re just at home.”

Now back on campus for the spring semester, Choudhari has taken on a new role as a Carolina Together Ambassador in an effort to keep her friends and fellow Tar Heels safe and together in Chapel Hill this spring.

“I really want students to stay on campus this semester,” she said. “I don’t want people to have to go back home. Carolina is home, and students should be able to enjoy their time here. … I’m so happy to be back here. My friends and I had a picnic the other day outside, and we’ll go for walks around the campus.”

Choudhari has been volunteering with dozens of other Carolina Together Ambassadors to help students navigate changes to the campus. She has primarily spent her volunteer shifts at Davis Library, but ambassadors can be found throughout campus, including at Dey Hall, the Health Sciences Library and the Genome Sciences Building.

Her current tasks at Davis Library have been to remind students, faculty and staff of the University’s COVID-19 Community Standards and simply be a friendly face as Tar Heels learn their way around new public health protocols.

With in-person classes beginning Feb. 8, the Carolina Together Ambassadors have expanded their locations to include various academic buildings to help students navigate the buildings safely and adhere to the new directional patterns for entering and exiting facilities.

“It’s mostly just talking with students and making sure they’re following the social distancing guidelines, keeping their masks on at all times, asking them to hand sanitize and answering any questions they have,” she said. “We have a common goal of trying to keep the Carolina campus safe, make life easier for students, be there for them and answer their questions.”

Carolina Together Ambassadors are also the keepers of the University’s new “Golden Ticket” incentives initiative, which rewards students for following the COVID-19 Community Standards and promoting healthy behaviors. Golden Ticket recipients will join weekly drawings for gift cards to local Chapel Hill businesses.

For Choudhari, who wants to become a doctor, the experience has allowed her to not only gain the communication skills she’ll need for her future career but also get a glimpse at the impact she can already have on others.

“I’m really interested in health care because I like being around people, and I want to give back to the community,” she said. “My dad is a doctor, so I’ve seen the impact that he’s had on people. I just want to do the same type of thing.”

Becoming Carolina Together Ambassador felt like the best to help keep Tar Heels safe during the pandemic, Choudhari said, and she’s been excited to join a group of students willing to dedicate their time to serving their community.

“It’s good to know that there are other people on this campus who care about the well-being of others, who really want to be there and provide guidance for students and act as role models,” she said. “It’s one of the best things you can do for Carolina right now. If you’re in Chapel Hill and you want to get involved on the campus, this is the best way to be closer to everything that Carolina is about.”

Learn more about the Carolina Together Ambassadors program and how to become an ambassador

By Brandon Bieltz, University Communications

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