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Aden Laws wears a winter jacket and hat at the Old Well
“My favorite thing about the Slavic Club is seeing people of all different backgrounds come together to celebrate Slavic culture,” said Aden Laws. (Photo by Jess Abel)

“It wasn’t until high school that I realized I enjoy learning languages,” said Aden Laws, a senior from Burnsville, North Carolina.

He excelled in his first Spanish classes and, simultaneously, discovered a new passion for Slavic languages and music that influenced his college search. 

“I knew that UNC had one of the state’s most robust Russian language and culture programs,” Laws said.  

After researching the faculty and curriculum in the department of Germanic and Slavic languages and literatures, he enthusiastically declared his major.  

At Carolina, Laws began learning Russian during his first year. After building foundational language skills, he took what would become his favorite class in his major: “20th Century Russian Literature,” taught by Matt McGarry, teaching assistant professor.  

McGarry transformed the class from what Laws had once viewed as simply a major requirement into a profound experience.  

“In this class, I discovered my passion for literature that would slowly grow over the next two years, developing my personality and helping me delve even deeper into the worlds of language, culture, politics and philosophy.” 

To continue to pursue his passion for Slavic languages and culture, Laws spent a summer living in Almaty, Kazakhstan, as part of the Russian Flagship Program, a national initiative created to encourage the study of the language. The experience helped him shore up the language skills he had built at Carolina as speaking Russian became an everyday part of life. 

A German minor, Laws also takes every opportunity to practice his languages with native speakers back at UNC. He is a member of the German and Slavic clubs, one of his favorite aspects of being a Tar Heel. 

“My favorite thing about the Slavic Club is seeing people of all different backgrounds come together to celebrate Slavic culture. Our meetings are a place where you can meet some of the most interesting, passionate and creative people.” 

When Laws thinks about the people who helped make his Carolina journey incredible, his entire department comes to mind.  

“I could write pages about every familiar face in Dey Hall,” he said. 

Outside his classes, his top Tar Heel memories include evenings playing tennis with friends and rushing Franklin Street after beating Duke in the Final Four in 2022. 

“I only have one semester left, but I’m sure it will be full of memories as I prepare to graduate and wrap up this chapter of my life,” he said, adding that his next chapter is an exciting one, too: a full academic year in Almaty as the capstone to his Russian Flagship Program participation 

He thanks Carolina for “making all of this possible.” 

By Jess Abel, College of Arts and Sciences

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