Student Voices: Returning to Chapel Hill

Editor’s Note: Kristen Fanarakis attended UNC-Chapel Hill as an undergraduate over a decade ago and is now enrolled in the new MBA@UNC program. These are her thoughts on what it means to be a Tar Heel “coming home.”

I have always wondered if the alumni of other universities refer to their campus and their time in college as “magical” as often as a UNC graduate.  Living in various cities far from Chapel Hill after graduation, I have heard few friends and colleagues wax poetic about their time at university the way a Tar Heel has a habit of doing.  What created the bond to the school and the town varies from person to person, but we all felt a connection and knew we were lucky to be a part of the Carolina family.

Somehow the azaleas surrounding the Old Well are a little more vibrant and the sky is truly Carolina Blue in Chapel Hill.  When it was time to say goodbye, it was just as hard saying it to Franklin Street as it was to the friends you made over the last four years. Even though many years can pass the connection to UNC never dies, but snowstorms in March and crowded subway rides make it easy to forget how the sun always seemed to shine a little brighter in the southern part of heaven. When the mention of Roy or Dean is met with a blank stare or you have to explain which game you cannot miss, you feel every mile in between Chapel Hill and your new home.

Though the MBA@UNC program does not allow me to walk to Pepper’s for a slice of pizza or drink from the Old Well on the first day of classes, it does allow me to virtually reconnect with the University.  The advantages of which extend far beyond the intangible magic Chapel Hill. As a member of the first class in the MBA@UNC program I am a part of the next chapter in the history of this fine university.  This program embodies the progressive spirit that drove the founding of the university and has continued to influence every generation of Tar Heels thereafter.  It is a university of the people.

Today, technology allows ‘the people’ to be situated far from Polk Place and still benefit from the tradition of excellence Carolina has to offer.  After finishing my undergraduate studies many years ago I never could have imagined that I could live in New York or Tokyo while earning a degree from Kenan-Flagler.  The directors and innovators of MBA@UNC have proven Thomas Wolfe wrong with the launch of this program.  We are now all able to come back home again.  

About Kristen: Kristen spent the last 13 years working in financial services after graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill with a BA in economics and political science.  She started her career in investment management in Boston where she earned her masters in international economics part-time.  She spent the last seven years in foreign exchange sales covering institutional managers for various Wall Street banks.