Conversations with alumni and friends are opportunities to reflect on why graduate education matters in our world

Steven W. Matson, Dean

Steve Matson, Dean

Some of my most enjoyable moments at UNC-Chapel Hill are spent in conversations I have with graduate students and graduate alumni: Why did you want to pursue a graduate degree? What brought you to Carolina? How has Carolina supported your success? How can we do better? What do you hope to accomplish within your career? A common theme in their answers is that they want to use their skills and knowledge to make the world a better place in some way.

Charlotte Lane, featured in a University story just before she began her doctoral studies at Carolina, said this: “After receiving my degree, I hope to go back to West Africa and work in the development community. I love the people and the culture there. I want to spend my life working on locally relevant nutrition interventions that make sustainable and long-term differences to the community. At least, that’s the plan so far.”

Charlotte is a wonderful example of what I mean when I say we are creating the leaders of the future. She has just started her work at Carolina and already is thinking about how she can make a difference after receiving her degree. What a powerful message to take to people throughout the state and beyond: Carolina’s graduate students enter our University wanting to apply their knowledge to make the world a better place. Imagine what these students will do for our state and beyond while they are here – and after receiving their degree. We owe it to them, and to the world, to do all we can to support them.

A few years ago, The Graduate School began to host alumni events within our state and in other states to engage with both undergraduate and graduate alumni. We wanted to get our story out. We also wanted to hear from our alumni and talk about why we all believe graduate education matters in our world. Why we all believe that graduate education is a public good.

In August, with the support of Graduate Education Advancement Board member Blair Kutrow, The Graduate School hosted an event in Wilmington, N.C. Dr. Tom V. Morris, the bestselling author of 20 books and a Morehead-Cain alumnus, gave a fascinating talk. The drive back to Chapel Hill gave all of us the chance to reflect on new friends and new ideas about how to support student professional development. As always, I’m pleased to meet undergraduate alumni who use these events as an opportunity to ask questions about their own graduate school aspirations.

The Graduate School, together with members of the Graduate Education Advancement Board, has hosted alumni events in New York, California, Raleigh and Charlotte – with more being planned. Do you have an active group of Carolina graduate alumni in your area? Would you like UNC-Chapel Hill to visit you in the future? Please let us know! Thank you for the many ways you demonstrate Carolina’s excellence in graduate education.