A Gen X member reflects on the future

By Chantel Gillus

When Tracy Gary, 54, was growing up, her mother faced many hardships. Yet, Gary’s mother made it her mission to build her daughter’s strength, self-esteem and confidence by telling her how smart, pretty and special she was.

She describes her mother as a “battered” woman. As a child, Gary’s mother promised a better life and that it all started with her thought process and work ethic.

“My mother was the strongest woman I knew,” Gary said. “No one could look at her and tell what things were really like. She was so brave. I instill those qualities in my girls and share them with any girl in my presence.”

Through generational feminism, Gary is giving the younger generation the decision to either renew or remake older feminist ideologies. While some  women of the older generation commend their successors, others have mixed feelings regarding the remodeling of feminist views.

Millennials and Gen Z are putting their spin on feminism through the use of social media, intersectionality and being unapologetically bold.

Teacher Latonia Vincent, 50, likes to see the new generation of women being empowered and confident in who they are. However, she feels as though everything has boundaries.

“Sometimes I feel that we have stepped too far outside of who we’re supposed to be as far as having respect for our bodies and being so sexually free with our bodies,” Vincent said.

Likewise, Georgia Harrison, 58, mental health specialist, said that she is proud of the new generation and their individuality, but she also feels like they can be vulgar at times.

“I’m OK with their expressions, but not so much their method of delivery. I feel like the new generation is quite capable of expressing themselves in a more sophisticated manner than they use at times,” Harrison said.

Harrison thinks that as life changes, people, things and methods change. 

As a member of Gen X, Gary’s form of feminism was establishing a successful career. She became a math teacher at 21 and a principal by age 30, while being a wife and mother to two daughters, aged 25 and 29.

Going to college, establishing a career and being committed to her family was evidence that women don’t have to choose between having a family or a career. Rather, it is possible to have both.

“The best way for me to promote women’s rights was to model the life of a woman who knew her value and place in this world,” Gary said.

As for the women of today, Vincent thinks that it is a good thing that women have stepped into more progressive roles, gaining degrees and employment. She believes everyone should have the option of going out into the workforce or staying at home.

“I feel like many times men are ridiculed when they choose to stay at home with the children because the wife works and makes more money,” Vincent said. “I also feel like today’s women also look down on other women who choose to stay home, like they are not as valuable as those in the workforce.”

She said it’s OK to embrace change, but that people also have to teach old and new ways to children to allow them to choose their own lifestyle.

Harrison said that gender roles are more fluid than they were in the 1960s.

She said the extreme dichotomy between male and female roles is no longer the expected life pattern. Both men and women can pursue careers and choose to dedicate their lives to home life amongst other things.

“I believe a woman should have the same rights as a man in any arena,” Harrison said. “As a single Black woman in the workforce and having to stand on my own and expected to work as hard as the man, I’d say it’s very important for women to have equal rights with men.”

Harrison also mentioned women have come a long way in terms of freedom of speech. According to her, the younger generation is capitalizing on their earned rights and flexibility to openly express themselves.

She thinks it is because parents are more relaxed when it comes to relationships, sexuality, fashion and similar behaviors. People are more accepting of the new generation being who they are than in the past because “it’s simply a new era.”

“Many women today are more focused on corporate America, technology and good times,” Harrison said. “There are times that mothers are left to take care of home alone, some are married, yet unsettled and at times are more concerned about friendship with their daughters and busy being fearful of their sons as opposed to proper parenting.”

Vincent believes that the women of the new era are continuing the fight of women like Shirley Chisholm, who was the first Black woman in Congress in 1968.

“However, I feel that we should not taint their memories by going about it the wrong way. Sometimes in being vocal and demanding respect, we go too far. We begin to be ignored because we are just brash, disrespectful, and harsh in our speaking and actions,” Vincent said.

There are times where Harrison does not feel seen when the younger generation women speak because they speak differently than how she was taught to speak.

She thinks that younger people are more likely to say what they feel without thinking or showing  respect for authority.

Gary and Vincent hope to be great role models for their daughters. They hope they continue to take after them through leadership, loving themselves, and being strong women.

Gary said her daughters grew up seeing her work hard in positions typically given to men. They saw how important getting an education was and how it takes an entire family to make the household run effectively. 

Gary’s daughters traveled with her as she pursued her graduate degree. Their father cooked and got them ready for school when Gary went to conferences as a teacher, principal, director and superintendent.

“They saw what it was like to be a strong Black woman. They saw my struggles of being tired and frustrated at times. They decided to obtain graduate degrees before having a family. They made a conscious decision to buy a home before getting married,” Gary said. “It is my hope and desire that each generation sets the tone for improvement for the next generation.”

Edited by Courtney Hicks and Halsey Ziglar

Durham tattoo artists balance the scales of tattoo history

By Lorelai Sykes 

Squeezed between barbershops, nail salons and estheticians in a majority Black-owned, shared business space sits Brooklyne Big. Neatly stacked candles with burnt black wicks, cheetahs with daggers hanging from their mouths, and reconfigured cartoon characters with morning stars. The black walls are covered with artwork. The entire space is not much larger than an average bedroom.

Brooklyne Big is a small tattoo studio in Durham, North Carolina. Terin J.D., who uses he/they pronouns, is one of the main artists in the studio. They like to laugh about the name, claiming that while the studio may be small, it is just big enough to hold everything they need. It is a space focused on sustainability and the art of tattooing any and all skin colors.

Ten years ago, when J.D. began their tattoo apprenticeship, they noticed something missing from the industry: images of art on darker skin.

 J.D. is from Indianapolis, Ind. but says that their home is in the Triangle area of North Carolina.

 “But when it comes to the Triangle, I just think it’s a really beautiful place to tattoo,” J.D. said. “And it’s like you ended up having an opportunity to connect with so many different types of clients that are just in the Triangle at that moment.”

It is where J.D. said they were exposed to a large, creative and more inclusive tattoo culture.

“When it comes to people that want to get really good tattoos on brown skin, it is like a really special place for that. For me, and my work,” J.D. said.

Back in the 2010s, their mentor from Louisville, Ky., said his clientele was easily 90% Black but J.D. could not find that population in photographs of tattoos, social media pages or tattoo shop websites across the country. Famous Black athletes and stars were covered in ink, and even J.D.’s friends from home, too.

Even so, the documentation of past and present tattoos seemed clogged with pale skin and styles executed without darker skin in mind.

 “Tattoo Renaissance”

 Tattoos have been a cultural phenomenon for hundreds of years, but in the past six decades, commercial tattooing in the United States has grown considerably. According to Verena Hutter of Dismantle Magazine, the 1960s marked the “Tattoo Renaissance.” Tattoos were no longer regarded as the mark of a menacing biker or circus freak, but as works of art and culture.

Tattoos often borrow art styles from other cultures and do not always give credit back to those communities. For example, Japanese art styles flooded the American tattoo scene at a time when Asian Americans were largely discriminated against.

Well-known tattooers like Ed Hardy also took art styles from Hispanic communities, incorporating them into a misleading “American traditional” style. The American style was built on appropriation and left behind the voices of the original artists.

Due to zoning laws and the taboo around tattoos, studios were popping up in areas as far away from rich white neighborhoods as possible. They were located near liquor stores or gun stores, in areas underdeveloped and largely Black. With that history comes a story largely undocumented and untold: Black tattooing.

“Having brown skin is bold.”

J.D. says that when they entered the industry as an artist, there was still little education on how  to tattoo brown and black skin. Stereotypes and rumors echoed through the industry.

“Even when I got into tattooing and like say the 2010s there was so little education on tattooing brown skin, that people would just do bad jobs, like people artists would just do a bad job on brown skin and they just be like, ‘it’s their skin,’”J.D.  said.

The main misconception about tattooing darker skin is that it is harder or impossible to make it look good.


“So I’ve described to clients like this: having brown skin is bold,” J.D. said. “So when you have a bold thing, to put something on top of that bold thing, you don’t want to take away from the bold thing. And sometimes when tattooing brown skin, doing opposites or doing different things to showcase the brown tone can go really long way. It just requires a tattooer doing more research.”

J.D. said that artists tend to stick to what they know. So, a white artist in a high-rise New York City studio will likely stick to fine lines on pale skin. They might not feel that they need to learn the techniques necessary to tattoo darker skin.

Even if an artist does tattoo darker skin, there is still a stigma around posting those photos on social media.

“I was told for years by owners of tattoo shops, that if they posted on brown skin, they would look like they do cheap tattoos because they were afraid that if they posted on brown skin, people would think that Black people could afford to go there. It was more of a fear that they may lose some of their white clientele if they post too many tattoos on brown skin,” J.D. said.

That is why Brooklyne Big is such a sacred space. It is devoid of these misconceptions and stereotypes. Now, J.D. is working with Phoebe Powell, who uses she/they pronouns, is only 21 years old and is his former apprentice.

“I am definitely held to a different expectation.”

Powell began working with J.D. after J.D. did a coverup of what Powell called an awful neck tattoo. They tell the story between puffs of Camel Blue 99s. After that, Powell started working for J.D., where Powell assisted with events and gave themself “the shittiest tattoos” as practice before earning their spot tattooing alongside J.D. 

Powell is also from Ind., and growing up Black in a red state was difficult for them as well.

“When I was in high school, I was in the marching band. We went to the Lucas Oil Stadium to do our performance and I knelt for the national anthem and there was this person who really didn’t like that. They said they wanted to lynch me in their backyard.”

Powell and J.D. echo the same point: that entering the industry as a Black, queer person is just as difficult today as it was 10 years ago. The two constantly feel pressured to produce work at a higher level because of the standard they are held to by white folks in the industry.

“I am definitely held to a different expectation,” Powell said. “They want it for the cheapest and they want it done very efficiently. They don’t ask that from any other person besides Black tattooers, especially Black queer ones. I have to be better than a lot of people just to get validation.”


J.D. explains that in the early years of their tattooing, they could not make a living off of art alone. They add that many Black artists have to lower their prices for clientele, and clients often demand to see a larger amount of quality work to soothe racial biases.

Despite these barriers, a 5-star rating on Google reads:

“I had a great time with Phoebe. My tattoo looks exactly like I imagined, and I felt very well taken care of and safe during my experience. Highly Recommend!”

Edited by Katie Lin and Matherly Collins

‘A very unique experience’: Enlisting and working in the US military

By Kristen Snyder

Black hats surround recruits struggling to drag their bags from the bus. Their voices cut through the air, oversaturating the senses of each recruit. Every error or demonstration of inefficiency is exposed and publicly admonished. Each second passes like a strobe light.

For many recruits, this is the first time they’ve had someone raise their voice at them. They’ve left their families and the outside world. They’re alone, and they’re vulnerable.

A perfect place to begin basic military training.

Memories from basic training

“The first day we got to basic [training], everyone got a phone call and everyone was crying,” Staff Sgt. Delroy Maronie said.

Maronie recalled the day he arrived at basic training. He was exhausted from the travel and the constant shouting of the military training instructors. Yet, he maintained his composure while he waited for other trainees to complete their final call to their families before the 2-month training began. Maronie watched as trainees met their families’ voices with tears, overcome by pressure and anxiety. 

In basic training, every day is a chance for military instructors to teach discipline by breaking down recruits and rebuilding them as efficient members of the U.S. military. The ability to work under pressure is crucial to any military role. Often enlisted members are put in command of valuable personnel and assets.

The inability to lead and perform in a high-stress environment is not an option. 

Maronie remembered when he was once caught laughing at the mistake of another trainee. He was separated from his fellow trainees in the ranks and stood at attention. He plastered his arms to his sides, put his feet together and focused his eyes on a point in the distance.

He remained motionless while the instructor made him an example of discipline. The instructor told him he would not make it through basic training with his attitude of ambivalence and ordered him to march behind the flight. 

“I was humiliated that day,” Maronie said. “For two days, I had to march behind the flight and earn my way back.”

Enlisting in the U.S. military requires perseverance and a diligent mind. Recruits are held to a high standard to meet physical training and mental fortitude requirements. Through classroom instruction, marching and survival scenarios, recruits learn the value of attention to detail.

“I had something minorly incorrect with my uniform or something,” Master Sgt. John Davis said. “I just remember my drill instructor just kind of laying into me about how I can’t even get this right and I am expected to load bombs onto an aircraft.”

Davis has been a part of the enlisted force for 15 years. He joined the U.S. Air Force with the hope of finding direction and purpose in his life after dropping out of college. His time at basic training transformed him into a detailed-oriented and goal-driven airman. 

Davis recounted his graduation from basic training. Trainees stood at parade rest, their eyes fixed 10 degrees above the horizon. From the corner of his eye, he saw friends and family members release other trainees from their formation. His mind raced with excitement as he entered his last moments of training. When Davis’s mother reached his eye line, he knew he was a single touch away from telling her about the man he had become.

“It’s a rush of emotions … It’s a lot to deal with at the time,” Davis said.

What comes next?

Since his graduation, Davis has traveled to the Middle East and finished his degree. He holds the position of mission crew supervisor on the EC-130H, a $165 million aircraft, according to Aero Corner. Airmen look up to him as one of the highest-ranked non-commissioned officers.

As a high-ranking enlisted member, Davis helps guide new lieutenants as they start their careers. His experience allows him to mentor these young officers in confidently leading the other enlisted members. The impact of his mentorship reminds him of the importance of his role.

“The enlisted force of today’s Air Force is a lot different than the enlisted force of the 1980s or ‘90s,” Davis said. “Our enlisted force is more educated, more technically savvy than it’s ever been.”

Yet, even with the success story that Davis provides, the rate of those enlisting in the military has decreased significantly. The Pew Research Center reports that less than 1% of the U.S. adult population commits their lives to service for their country. 

“I think it comes down to the generation and maybe because the economy was so great,” Staff Sgt. Charles Mason said.

Mason is the North Carolina Army National Guard recruiting liaison at UNC-Chapel Hill. In his 13 years of service, Mason trained under the army police and was deployed to Afghanistan. While he credits the military with providing benefits and reliable employment, he isn’t afraid to admit that being enlisted is very different from the movies and YouTube ads.

Mason remembered his arrival in Afghanistan. As he crossed the runway, he saw scorch marks burned into the airstrip. He was told that an aircraft had crashed earlier that day, killing four service members. 

That night his team was hit with mortars.

Service demands sacrifice, and some are still willing to accept that challenge.

From service to student

Caimile Lane takes classes alongside hundreds of other UNC-CH students. Yet, few know that she served four years in the U.S. Air Force before going back to school for a degree in political science.

At Lane’s high school, few graduates chose to enter the military. A four-year university was prescribed to any senior aiming for success. But for Lane, money could not be wasted on years still deciding what she wanted to do. She needed to make a decision that gave her life experiences and financial stability. 

“I think it was more so that people were surprised and a little confused, especially when I feel like in our society, we’re just so programmed to do what’s always been done and not to try something different,” Lane said. “If it fails or it’s not for me, at least I know.”

Lane was deployed to South Korea. It was her first time outside the country, thousands of miles away from any sense of familiarity. 

As a weather specialist, Lane was trusted to predict weather patterns that would ensure the success of U.S. Air Force missions. Lane was responsible for airmen’s lives and thousands of dollars of equipment. She briefed officers and high-ranking enlisted members on forecasts.

From her experience, Lane said, when she told people she was going into the military, they assumed she was not offered admission or didn’t want to attend college.

“I was always open to trying something different,” Lane said. 

Lane had the opportunity to work with members from all branches, enlisted and officers. Her experiences helped her form relationships, sealed with stories of survival.

Lane recalled her final day in South Korea. Frantically, she searched for her wallet which contained her passport and ID. It was gone, and she was stranded. Yet, across branches, a U.S. Army enlisted member stepped up to help.

“She took me back to a local base with her husband,” Lane said. “They gave me new IDs and everything I needed. It showed me how this lady and her family didn’t know me at all but, at the end of the day, I was still going to be taken care of because we are all one big military, one big family looking out for each other.”

As part of the 1%, Lane is dedicated to supporting other enlisted members in the military. She plans to enter the U.S. Air Force as a force support officer, leading enlisted members in meeting the needs of the United States.

“Going enlisted first, it just allowed me to experience the real world sooner,” Lane said. “It definitely adds a very unique experience and perspective to the way I view the world.”

Edited by Anna Neil and Valeria Cloës.

NCAA champion and mental health advocate: a deeper dive with Aranza Vazquez


Aranza Vazquez sits on a teal diving board wearing a navy blue Carolina sweater. Behind her, swimmers are doing laps in a pool.
Aranza Vazquez sits atop a diving board in front of a pool. She made history as the first UNC diver to win an NCAA title.

By Ira Wilder

As soon as her head hit the water, Aranza Vazquez knew she’d won the national championship.

She climbed out and waited for her one-meter springboard score — a 358.75, 18 points ahead of her closest opponent — to confirm what she already knew. She couldn’t contain her excitement.

During her post-victory interview, an ESPN reporter asked her: “What did Coach Gamboa say to you after your dive?” Vazquez responded, “Gamboa said ‘I’m so f—ing proud of you.’”

She didn’t realize she’d said that seven-letter word on national television until hours later, but her ecstatic word choice was understandable to those familiar with how she got there.

She is the first UNC diver to win an NCAA title. The very next day, she collected another one on the three-meter springboard.

Leap of faith

Her path to victory was neither linear nor easy. The Olympian diver overcame mental health struggles along the way, rediscovered her love for the sport and prioritized her well-being throughout her most successful season yet. 

Vazquez has been competing internationally since she was nine. She was raised in La Paz, Mexico by a family of athletes, though none have ever competed on the same global stage as her and her brother. Her brother, Rodolfo, will join her on the UNC diving team next year.

Growing up, she missed countless weekend hangouts with friends and instead piled in the family car with her brother and parents to drive to competitions everywhere from Colombia to California. She felt natural competing and enjoyed building friendships at competitions with young international divers.

It wasn’t until she was a teenager that she became conscious of her love for the sport.

When she was 16, she had her eyes on competing for Mexico in the 2018 Junior Olympic Games. Though she was successful at the qualifying events, another female Mexican diver was ultimately chosen to compete in the games.

Though she was disappointed, she was soon recruited by UNC Coach Yaidel Gamboa, who was childhood friends with her local coach. Gamboa kept a close eye on Vazquez’s international performances during high school and was impressed by her discipline and humility. He was one of the main reasons she decided to come to UNC.

A Tar Heel triumph

Her passion surged after being recruited. Her dedication paid off, leading her to an Olympic final.

Vazquez finished sixth in the women’s three-meter springboard final at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

When she returned to Mexico, a massive party welcomed her home. Her family shared cakes and old stories and danced for hours, celebrating her accomplishments across the Pacific.

But the celebration ended. She said she had put years of pressure on herself to reach the Olympic podium, and, when she didn’t, she didn’t know what to do next. She began to experience what she called an “Olympics depression.”

“We athletes, we have our ups and downs and we’re not invincible,” she said.

Under the surface

In an October 2021 Instagram post, she wrote that, during a low point in her diving career, she found it difficult to attend practice regularly and engage in physical conditioning. She was essentially starting over from scratch.

Vazquez is not the only student-athlete who has experienced mental health issues. Approximately 30% of female student-athletes and 25% of male student-athletes reported having anxiety, according to data from the American College of Sports Medicine. In comparison, about 20% of adults experience a mental health condition at some point in their lives.

Anton Down-Jenkins is a junior diver at UNC who also competed in the 2020 Olympics. He is one of her closest teammates and, after placing 8th in the men’s three-meter springboard final, he struggled with depression and impostor syndrome much like Vazquez.

“We had a dream of ‘We are gonna make the Olympics one day,’ and then that happened all so suddenly, and I think we were both a little bit surprised to have reached the pinnacle of sporting events,” he said.

The young divers were left questioning if they had reached their peaks.

“What do we do now? Like, we’ve kind of done it all?” he said.

Suffering from success

During the 2021-2022 season that followed the games, Vazquez felt even more pressure to perform well at collegiate events. She wasn’t just a ‘good diver’ anymore, now she was an Olympian, and that label carried a weight. She felt unmotivated, as if there was no point in competing if she wouldn’t compete perfectly.

Vazquez did not do as well as she expected to in the 2022 ACC Swimming and Diving Championships, during which her highest placement was third on the three-meter springboard. That continued into the 2022 NCAA Championships, during which her highest placement was third on the one-meter springboard.

Gamboa supported her with mental training and constant encouragement, often reminding her to enjoy the sport more than the outcome.

“Focus on the fun part,” he often said to her.

So, she took a break from diving last summer — no competing, no practicing. She wanted to reset and remind herself why she loves the diving board.

Away from the pool, she missed the sport she’d competed in for the last decade. She was eager to get back in the water, regardless of how many accolades or disappointments it might bring her. Before returning to Chapel Hill, she cleared her mind and made a promise.

“‘If you want to keep doing this, you gotta step up and do great next year and push through,’” she said to herself.

A splashy resurgence

And she did, producing her best collegiate season ever. She went on to sweep gold medals in the one-meter, three-meter and platform competitions at the ACC Championship in February the first diver to do so since 2008.

In order to perform her best, Vazquez said she had to learn that she didn’t need to win every competition, and she approached this year’s NCAA Championship the same way.

Before she stepped on the board, Gamboa told her: “You don’t need anything special. In order to perform your best, you just need to be you.”

When she stepped on the board for the final time, she didn’t think about corrections, technicalities or perfection. She didn’t think about her dad in the stands calculating how many points she needed to win. She didn’t think about her grandmother beside him fearing for her safety. She treated the dive like one of the thousands she’d done this season in practice.

“Just go,” she said to herself.

When she got out of the water and saw her score, she was surrounded by teammates and Coach Gamboa. Gamboa knew that Vazquez’s time at the NCAAs was a milestone step — not only in her athletic journey — but also in her mental health journey.

She dove without concern for a larger narrative or the expectations of anyone watching, yielding what Gamboa called “a great dive.”

More than a champion

Her national titles are now just a jewel in the crown of a successful season, one in which she set a strong example for her peers. Down-Jenkins said she’s been an unrelenting supporter of her teammates’ mental health and has started open discussions about it, letting her peers know that they’re not alone.

“Me talking about my experiences just helps to create a community, an athlete environment where people feel safe,” Vazquez said.

Gamboa said Vazquez was almost unanimously elected team captain by her fellow divers, exemplifying how much she means to her peers.

“That’s the kind of athlete you really don’t get too often to coach, who have the talent and have the potential to do great things but also have the heart and the mentality to really do what it takes,” he said.

Her go-to three-meter dive is a two-and-a-half gainer, though she has her eyes set on consistently completing a three-and-a-half next year. She hopes the 2023-2024 season will be her best yet as she prepares for the 2024 Olympics Games in Paris.

Until then, she’s just enjoying the sport that she loves so much rather than focusing on the pressured glory attached to it. She still hasn’t watched the replay of her final dives in the Tokyo Olympics.

“I don’t know why. I do want to see my dives. But, at the same time, I just want to remember them as me doing them,” she said.

Edited by Fleet Wilson and Christian Ciocoiu

Journalists face unexpected dangers globally, committee protects

By Jessica Walker

Esha Sarai was preparing to go to Sudan to report on the 2019 revolution — she had never been more afraid.

Despite her fears, the journalist’s newsroom didn’t answer any of her questions on security and safety before her trip.

Sarai is now a video producer with the Committee to Protect Journalists, an organization committed to defending the rights of journalists and ensuring their safety.

“If you express concerns about safety, it’s kind of frowned upon in the industry, because you’re supposed to just be gung-ho about jumping into any danger,” Sarai said.

In 2022, at least 67 journalists were killed worldwide, the highest number recorded in five years. In the same year, 363 journalists were imprisoned.

There are statistically unsafe places for journalists, like Iraq, Ukraine and Mexico. However, press freedoms are also declining domestically, CPJ’s emergencies director Lucy Westcott said.

Interviewing Sudanese female politicians and feminists, who were pushing for representation in an unstable government, didn’t make Sarai feel unsafe. The lack of protection from her own newsroom gave her that feeling.

In the summer of 2020, Sarai again felt unsafe and unsupported when covering the presidential elections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That year, hundreds of journalists were arrested, assaulted and victimized by police brutality.

“Covering protests and preparing for potential police violence in the COVID pandemic, (and) on top of it, pre-vaccine, we had nothing,” she said. “I was going out and covering protests, and my newsroom wouldn’t even give me N95s.”

Freelance journalists receive the brunt of these unsafe situations without any support from newsrooms, Westcott said.

“That’s not why people do the job of journalism. To go out there and be attacked like that,” she said. “Journalists are human beings. They’re not just robots.”

Newsroom protection policies

In 2016, Westcott was initially writing an article based on an alleged hate crime that ended up being falsely reported. Instead, she published an article about why women of minority backgrounds would feel unsafe in New York City.

“Because of that piece, I got many threats, including very violent images sent to me,” Westcott said. “And that was really, really scary. I did not feel prepared to deal with that at all or to see those things.”

Westcott’s editor did not offer her any support, besides telling her to lock her account online.

Now Westcott’s job at CPJ is to ensure newsrooms have tools to prevent a journalist from being in an unsafe or uncomfortable situation where their concerns aren’t taken seriously.

Newsrooms need to enforce not only policies for physical safety, but also policies on digital safety, she said.

Now she knows that she should have preemptively removed her personal data, like her home address and phone number, from data broker websites where it’s accessible to the public.

Not all newsrooms can support digital safety policies, and that issue needs to change, she said.

Overworked and overwhelmed

When covering her first Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, Sarai immediately jumped back into work after returning to her newsroom in Washington, D.C.

Her body shut down.

Broadcast journalist and wellness coach Leslie Rangal said it’s dangerous for journalists to overexert themselves after covering difficult stories, and it’s irresponsible of newsrooms to not consider a journalist’s mental health.

“I think if the culture continues, we can expect to lose an entire generation of journalists and, in turn, that could be detrimental to the field of journalism,” she said.

Journalists are first responders, Rangal emphasized. And yet, they aren’t supported in that way.

“We’re in a world right now where mass shootings — those are normal, unfortunately,” Rangal said. “When journalists are going out there and can expect to be in these incredibly traumatic situations, all that they’re (told) is, ‘Oh, well just take a couple extra days off because it’s been a really long week.’ That is irresponsible.”

Since the news cycle is relentless, the separation of personal and private life is important, and it makes a stronger journalist, Westcott said.

On a global scale

Currently, Afghanistan and Ukraine are the two largest crises CPJ’s Emergencies Team responds to, Westcott said.

The team routinely gets about two to three emails a day from journalists around the world explaining their situation and asking for anything, from assistance to funding or flights.

When the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, CPJ received 25,000 emails from journalists in November 2021.

As a relatively small organization, it was impossible to evacuate people by the thousands, Westcott said.

Instead, Westcott flew to Doha, Qatar, and helped a small number of Afghan journalists resettle in countries like Ireland, Germany, Canada and the United States.

“That was the rare example (that) just illustrates how chaotic that was and how unsafe those journalists felt,” Westcott said. “We still hear from Afghan journalists every single day, wanting to get out of Afghanistan.”

Journalists in Ukraine have also reached out to CPJ, as many are working near conflict and war zones, Westcott said.

The Russian law, which states journalists could face up to 15 years in prison if they report “false news” on the war, led to an influx of journalists fleeing Russia at the time.

CPJ still works on all of these crises today.

Westcott said that the unexpected dangers facing journalists in the United States still affect her personally.

“There’s a lot of attention naturally given to conflict zones and the safety of journalists there,” Westcott said. “But what about countries where it’s still violent for the press? Or where press freedom is declining? And the U.S. was certainly one of those places at the time.”

When former president Donald Trump labeled journalists as “enemies of the people,” his words had a global impact, Westcott said.

For example, in Mexico, which has one of the highest journalist mortality rates, leaders may have used Trump’s rhetoric to rationalize their lack of protections, she said.

CPJ ultimately stresses that it’s important to keep journalists safe in order to keep a democracy functioning.

“A free press means that everybody gets access to all the information that they need to make informed decisions about the rest of their life, their family’s life, about their own futures,” Westcott said.

Westcott asked, if you’re trying to silence the press, what are you really doing?

Edited by Claire Burch and JinAh Springer

Perfecting their persona: style in a changing basketball landscape

By Shelby Swanson

While her teammates are dressed in practice pinnies and baggy hoodies, UNC junior guard Deja Kelly dons a skin-tight Carolina blue shirt as she laces up for a shootaround at the NCAA Tournament. Her hair is slicked back and her edges are laid in her signature “D-I do.” 

She’s rocking pink acrylic nails and eyelash extensions. While she isn’t wearing any foundation or concealer — she’s not a big fan of heavy makeup during games — her eyebrows are plucked to perfection, and the gloss on her lips catches the fluorescent overhead lights.

Cultivating a “girly” image doesn’t stop the ACC first-team honoree from being a stone-cold killer on the court. The hair, nails, lashes and top-tier midrange game — it’s all part of the Deja Kelly package. 

She’s not alone in today’s world of women’s hoops. The ability for players to craft a signature look is increasingly important, both culturally and economically. 

UNC guard Deja Kelly poses wearing her Carolina Blue jersey with a compression sleeve of the same color on her left leg.
UNC guard Deja Kelly led the Tar Heels in scoring in the 2022-23 season, averaging 16.5 points per game in her junior campaign. She has also made a name for herself for her signature look both on and off the court.

“This generation, they’re very used to self-expression,” sports historian Susan Shackelford said. “Some of the top players, they will not play for a coach unless they can be themselves. It’s that important to them. They’re not going to give up all that.”

This hasn’t always been the case. Until recently, the stylistic choices that players like Kelly prize were left up to coaches and managers.

“I think we’ve seen the growth and expansion of (self-expression),” Kelly said. “People are more like, ‘OK, if I can express myself and showcase what I want to show on the court, I can be an example for the next generation.’” 

‘Treading a fine line’

When women play sports, it creates tension.

The history of female athletics — as shown by the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in the 1940s and 1950s —  didn’t just put pressure on players to adhere to traditional femininity. It was required. In the AAGPBL rulebook, boyish bobs were outlawed and lipstick was mandated.

Fast-forward 40-odd years. It’s 1996. The WNBA is in its infancy and, as the league’s first president Val Ackerman told The Athletic, “Television was the driver.” 

Arizona State University sports historian Victoria Jackson said the league was catering to the male gaze. 

“If you look at the packages put out by the WNBA when the league launched, it’s just so cringey, looking at how they thought they should be promoting a women’s professional sports league,” Jackson said.

Houston Comets teammates Rebecca Lobo and Sheryl Swoopes talk strategy midway through a game in 2002.
Rebecca Lobo (left) and Sheryl Swoopes discuss strategy during a game in 2002, the only season where they played together on the Houston Comets. The pair were cornerstones in the WNBA’s “We Got Next” campaign heading into their respective rookie seasons.

The WNBA’s “We Got Next” campaign is a perfect example. A video launching the initiative features Rebecca Lobo and Sheryl Swoopes exchanging seductive stares. They wear bold lipstick and strut alongside Lisa Leslie, who is styled in a crop top.  

Per Jackson, women’s basketball has historically regulated player self-expression. WNBA owners worried that if their players looked too masculine, sponsors would tune out and viewers wouldn’t tune in. 

Pamela Grundy, a women’s basketball historian and co-author of “Shattering the Glass,” said public opinion often saw contact sports as antithetical to femininity. 

“When women have stopped to play sports in a serious fashion — you know, competitive,” she said, “they maybe bump into each other every now and then and their hair loses their shape. They’re treading a fine line.”

There’s more than one way to look sexy

As UNC coach Courtney Banghart answered questions following North Carolina’s first-round win in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, she placed her hands on the shoulders of Kelly and junior wing Kennedy Todd-Williams.

“They’re different,” she said. “They have their own little — look at these two — they have their own little things. But there’s an enormous amount of respect they have for one another.”

The glammed-up Kelly juxtaposed with the plainly-dressed Todd-Williams is a microcosm of a larger cultural shift in the game.

Junior guards Kennedy Todd-Williams poses for a selfie taken by Deja Kelly at an ACC Tipoff Media Day event in 2022.
Junior guard Kennedy Todd-Williams (left) and junior guard Deja Kelly (right) pose for a photo at the 2022 ACC Tipoff Media Day in Charlotte, N.C. The pair were consistent starters for the UNC women’s basketball team, who ended their season in a narrow 69-71 loss to Ohio State in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

“One day you can dress androgynously and the next day you can fem it up,” Jackson said. “In part, it’s because we see more of a diversity of expressions in media. A lot of the things we consume have a broader range of people and characters in them.”

Today’s players were raised on social media, in full control of their own appearance. They’ve watched athletes like Colin Kaepernick take a knee. They’ve witnessed player associations organize protests in the WNBA and NBA.

Not only do players feel safer being themselves on the court, but they know they hold the power to demand it. 

When Sports Illustrated released its 2022 swimsuit edition featuring WNBA players in bikinis, Chicago Sky guard Courtney Williams took to Twitter to demand a more inclusive approach to style. 

“It would have been raw to see a sleek lil sports bra & some shorts swaggin,” Williams wrote. “There’s more than one way to look sexy, and I hope in the future we can tap into that.”

Self-expression or self-consciousness?

Despite the progress made in women’s basketball and American culture, there is still pressure for athletes to conform to gender norms.

Kelly said she feels more eyes on her in the wake of rule changes that allowed college athletes to profit from the use of their name, image and likeness. Granted, that comes with benefits. After her Sweet 16 appearance in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, Naomi Osaka’s skincare brand KINLO reached out to partner with Kelly. 

Connecticut Suns guard Nia Clouden doesn’t consider herself as girly as Kelly. She’s more of a sweatsuit person. But, if she was in college today, she said she would feel the need to glam up.  

Aside from the pressure that NIL puts on women in college sports to constantly appear marketable, the stress to conform to gender norms extends further than that. Because sports and physicality are considered manly, Jackson said many of today’s players may play up their femininity to counteract their muscles. 

However, to players like Clouden and Kelly, what they’re doing isn’t compensation — it’s authentic. And now brands are latching on to that swag. 

Wearing a purple and gold jersey and purple headband, LSU forward Angel Reese taps her right ring finger.
LSU forward Angel Reese taps her ring finger at Iowa’s Caitilin Clark during the NCAA women’s championship basketball game. Clark similarly mocked Reese earlier in the tournament, but Reese still received criticism for the act. LSU went on to win the championship game 102-85.

Angel Reese, an All-American and 2023 national champion, is unabashedly herself — a self-described product of the Baltimore streets who trash-talks and plays with serious confidence. The ‘Bayou Barbie’ even keeps an extra pair of false eyelashes in the locker room in case she needs a mid-game touch-up. 

By cultivating her appearance and attitude, Reese has more NIL deals than any other collegiate basketball player, male or female. 

 According to SponsorUnited’s 2022-2023 NIL marketing partnerships report, deals for female college hoopers have grown the most out of any group of athletes, even high-revenue sports like men’s basketball and football. 

Maybe some players are curating their appearance due to internalized sexism or pressure from the market. Maybe they’re truly embracing self-expression. 

Or maybe it doesn’t matter either way. 

Regardless of their intent, the power is now in the hands of the players — the performers — to perfect their own persona.

Edited by Preston Fore, Allie Kelly and Guillermo Molero.

Carolina For the Kids makes sure no child in recovery gets left behind

Two students in black clothing perform on a stage in front of a crowd of a standing spectators. Red lights shine on the crowd while blue light shines from the stage.
Carolina for the Kids has held an annual dance marathon every year since 1999. For 12 hours, UNC students pledge to stay on their feet dancing with several performances and activities throughout the night to keep them excited and awake.

By Reagan Allen

Heather Murphy was in her home getting ready to go out for dinner when she heard a blood-curdling scream coming from the front yard. Murphy frantically ran toward the noise. What she saw horrified her.

Her 3-year-old son, Drew, was sucked under the riding lawn mower after running across the yard. The sharp blades cut into his skin, ripping the tissue off his back leg. The heat from the engine gave him third-degree burns. His heel bone was cut off, exposing the bone that was left. Heather called 911.


“The doctors had to shield me from seeing him like that.”

Her husband, Jamie, who was on top of the mower, jumped down, scooped Drew up, and ran to the car with Heather tailing behind.

The couple exchanged panicked words as Jamie set their son in the back seat. They decided Jamie would rush Drew to a nearby EMS station while Heather stayed home with their other two children.

Jamie sped off, leaving Heather with only the sound of her ragged breathing. She stood outside, shocked, then composed herself. She went to comfort her other children, a 2-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son who came outside after hearing the commotion.

In the kitchen, Heather found her husband’s phone, her only way to find out the well-being of her son. Fifteen minutes later, an ambulance and police officers arrived at the house.

The police asked questions while Heather tried to get any information about where Drew was. Eventually, she found out he was being taken to WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh.

Heather dropped her two kids off at their grandma’s. Then, her neighbor drove her to the hospital because she was in “no shape to drive.”

Heather didn’t see Drew for several hours until they were reunited at WakeMed. “He’s in all kinds of agony and pain and as a mom I just wanted him to be better,” Heather said.

With her son writhing in pain in the other room, doctors told Heather they were unequipped to handle his injuries —there was nothing they could do. Drew would have to wait for a bed at UNC Hospitals where they could hopefully save his leg.

“For a while I couldn’t handle it; the doctors had to shield me from seeing him like that,” she said.

Drew arrived in Chapel Hill around 10:30 p.m., roughly four and a half hours after the accident occurred. He was immediately taken in for surgery. One of the many fears Heather faced that night was the possibility that her son’s leg would be amputated.

However, the doctor refused to amputate without doing everything possible to save Drew’s leg. The two entered what should have been an hour and a half surgery. However, four hours later the leg was saved, and Drew was out of surgery.

Those four hours were torture for Heather and Jamie. They were stuck in limbo, waiting and praying for their son. When they found out Drew was going to be okay with both legs intact, the two were grateful. Shakily, Heather exhaled a sigh of relief.

Long recovery

Drew spent two weeks at the UNC Burn Clinic and another six weeks in the Children’s Hospitals. The family’s time there was difficult.

Drew was still in immense pain and getting better was a gradual process. On top of Drew’s recovery, Heather had two other children to take care of. Her life became the trips from her home to the hospital, going back and forth constantly. 

While everyone was thankful for Drew’s recovery, finding moments of joy was hard. Like most 3-year-olds, Drew needed to be constantly entertained. He couldn’t walk much, so keeping his mind occupied was exhausting.

The families first interaction with Carolina for the Kids (CFTK) was at a hospital prom they put on in the playroom.

Drew laughed, sang and ate with the other children. The weight of stress was lifted off Heather while she watched her son have fun for the first time in weeks.

Sarah Prosser, CFTK’s hospital and family relations chair, has been with the organization for the last two years. She’s interacted with patients at UNC Children’s and with some of the patients at pediatric clinics around Chapel Hill.

“When you see the smiles on kids’ faces or get thanked by a family member or staff member at the hospital it reaffirms your purpose and why you’re doing it,” Prosser said. “That’s pretty fulfilling.” 

During those two months at the hospital, CFTK provided meals, playdates and arts and crafts to those in the Children’s Hospital, including Drew.

After the hospital’s prom, a member reached out and asked Drew if he wanted to be a kid co-captain. He said yes and was paired with a UNC student in CFTK whom he is still in touch with today.

The co-captain program provides children in the hospital with a friend to talk to for support. Together, Drew and his co-captain played games, talked and did learning exercises. Every year since he has been a co-captain with CFTK.

Drew has been eagerly involved in anything CFTK related. The family has been to banquets, fun runs and the end of year dance marathon fundraiser almost every year since then. Heather and Drew together have spoken at marathons to share his story and how CFTK impacted them.

“We wanted to give back and make sure that the kids know how much they’re appreciated,” Heather said.

Over the last eight years, Drew has been in and out of the hospital. The two following years after the accident he had a couple outpatient surgeries on his legs.

In November 2020, Drew got an infection in his bone and ended up back in the hospital for a week and a half. Then in May of 2021, he had major surgery to reconstruct his heel.

Throughout Drew’s visits to the hospital CFTK has been there offering help, sending cards and bringing in baskets of goodies to cheer him up. His last surgery took place at a different hospital, but CFTK still reached out and asked what they could do.

Heather said it’s been a long and hard process to get him to a full recovery (or close to it) but the help of family and CFTK has made it easier.

Drew and Heather are especially looking forward to their beloved dance marathon. It’s an opportunity for them to laugh, dance, eat and forget their worries for the night.

Edited by Nathan Wellish and Will Christensen

Diverse UNC club hockey team finds success as hockey grows in North Carolina

By Lindsey Ware

Sit down, college basketball. North Carolina is a hockey state.

The bleachers in the stadium shook with the jumping and roaring of cheers as college students huddled close to one another, bundled in their North Carolina and N.C. State gear. Over 25,000 people showed up to Carter-Finley Stadium on Feb. 20 to watch the schools’ club hockey teams match up in the second-most attended hockey game North Carolina had ever seen. 

The Tar Heels fell to their rivals, but the team found a sense of unity and peace in agreeing on two things — the game was surreal, and North Carolina is a hockey state.

UNC club hockey brings together athletes looking to continue playing their sport in a fun environment, but the team’s recent success points towards a promising future for the program and is an example of the surging passion for hockey in North Carolina.

 Beating its rivals four of six times this season and racking up accolades wasn’t enough for the Tar Heels. The team is now looking to its future with a strong core group of players returning next year, as well as pondering on the future of hockey for the school and in the state.

“We’d be lying if we said we’re not dreaming of UNC one day getting a (Division 1) team,” team captain Henry Foster said. “Out of pure speculation and optimism, in the next 15 years, we’re going to be a D-1 program.”

Cigar-smoking head coach drives team growth & success 

North Carolina is tied with Duke for the most years in ACC Division II hockey26. This year, UNC experienced its most successful season yet, racking up titles such as State Champions, ACCHL Division Champions, Governor’s Cup Champions, and Regional Finalists, as well as going 10-2 against in-state opponents. 

The Tar Heel team is directed by head coach Jeff Volkman. Volkman can often be found smoking a cigar in the locker room after a big win or cracking open a beer on the bus with his of-age players, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t take the sport seriously. In his ninth season with UNC hockey this year, Volkman was named the ACHA Southeast Region Coach of the Year.

Volkman was born in Minnesota, where kids are basically born on skates. Volkman began skating at the age of four and went on to play semi-pro hockey in Germany. He’s now been coaching for 25 years, including nearly a decade at UNC. As head coach, he’s built up the program to include a full staff and a more competitive schedule.

Volkman reflected on the big step forward for Tar Heel hockey this season, one characterized by the high crowd attendance that was highlighted at the Carter-Finley outdoor game. As head coach, he values the positive energy in the locker room and the lack of ego on the team. Volkman attributes this culture to the team’s success this season and has high hopes for what is to come.

“There’s going to be more pressure each year on the players and the staff to succeed and keep moving forward,” Volkman said. “We have high expectations, but we make them realistic and keep moving forward.”

UNC club hockey head coach Jeff Volkman, wearing a blue jacket, light blue shirt, and white and light blue tie gives two thumbs-ups as he smokes a cigar in the team locker room. This graphic congratulates Volkman on being named 2023 ACHA Southeast Region Coach of the Year.
UNC club hockey head coach Jeff Volkman started coaching the team in 2014 and since then has helped lead the team to one of its most successful seasons in team history in 2022-23. Graphic courtesy of @UNCHockey.

“As soon as you put on a hockey jersey, we all speak the same language”

The Tar Heel team is aided by players from a variety of backgrounds, from a first-year who was born in hockey-crazed Toronto to a 39-year-old Afghanistan war veteran continuing his hockey career as the team’s goalie. 

Team captain Foster was tempted to play hockey in college after a childhood during which nearly every player he grew up with had aspirations of playing in college. Foster wanted to focus on his long-term future, the next 40 years instead of the next four, he said. When he got into UNC, it was too good of an offer to pass up.

Foster soon discovered UNC club hockey, which allowed him to continue his athletic career at a top public university. Since then, the junior was named the 2021-22 team MVP and currently serves as team captain.

“It’s been some of the most fun hockey I’ve played my whole life,” Foster said. “As soon as you put on a hockey jersey, we all speak the same language.”

The diverse backgrounds of the UNC club hockey team are evident in Afghanistan war veteran Joel Hughes. At 39 years old, Hughes is the oldest member of the team. He is working towards an exercise science degree at the University as he prepares to officially retire from the Army in August. 

After growing up playing hockey in New Hampshire, Hughes enrolled in the Army directly after high school graduation. He has continued his hockey career with a nonprofit team at his military base at Fort Bragg and is now at UNC as the team goalie. Even though his locker room playlist varies significantly from that of his younger teammates, Hughes has had a smooth transition to hockey at the college level.

Joel Hughes, wearing a black beanie on top of his goalie helmet and light blue and white pads, stands in goal at the Frozen Finley game at Carter-Finley Stadium on Feb. 20, 2023.
39-year-old war veteran Joel Hughes serves as the UNC club hockey goalie. Hughes is currently pursuing his exercise science degree and plans to retire from the Army in August. Photo courtesy of @tarheelhockey on Instagram.

On the other end of the extreme is 19-year-old Patrick O’Shaughnessy, who is a first-year at UNC. O’Shaughnessy spent the first eight years of his life in Toronto, Canada before relocating to Greensboro, N.C. He found it hard to keep playing hockey because of a lack of popularity and tough competition in the South but has found that sense of competition again at UNC.

The young forward was shocked to join a team that had players up to 20 years older than him but was welcomed with open arms.

Like all other UNC club hockey first-years, O’Shaughnessy had to participate in freshman karaoke. On the bus ride back to Chapel Hill after the first weekend away of the season, first-years take their turn in the karaoke tradition. Taylor Swift and country are commonplace in karaoke, with a few rap songs mixed in.

Apart from karaoke antics, in his first year with UNC club hockey, O’Shaughnessy has recognized the future of the sport in the state where he has spent the last decade.

“Since I’ve been living in North Carolina, the Canes, and hockey in general have grown a lot,” O’Shaughnessy said. “We definitely saw that this year.”

Tense rivalry & the hockey state

The Carolina Hurricanes are North Carolina’s NHL team. The Canes currently lead the Metropolitan Division after winning the division last season and winning the Central Division the season before that. The team ranks second in the league in attendance and attracted nearly 57,000 people to its outdoor Stadium Series game at Carter-Finley this February.

North Carolinians’ dedication to attending hockey games is translating to college hockey. The Tar Heel and Wolfpack hockey rivalry is tense and was on its biggest stage ever in the stadium matchup.

Photo of the hockey rink with fans on the top and bottom of the photo, with the hockey rink in the middle. Surrounding the rink are boards of the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes logo from the NHL Stadium Series game the day prior. The logos are navy blue and red as well as black and red for the Hurricanes.
Fans huddle close in the bleachers at Carter-Finley Stadium for UNC and N.C. State’s matchup on Feb. 20, 2023. Over 25,000 people came out to watch the game. Photo courtesy of @tarheelhockey on Instagram.

UNC entered the season determined to rule over rival N.C. State, who is the notoriously better team and was a 2021 ACHA Division II National Qualifier. Ahead of the first rivalry game of the season, Volkman came into the locker room, and his players eagerly prepared to listen to his insight on approaches to the matchup. Instead, his speech was short. “I hate these guys,” Volkman said about N.C. State’s Ice Pack. “Let’s go.”

A former player shared Volkman’s sentiment in a text to Foster. “Please do it,” he pleaded. “I’m so tired of watching these guys.” North Carolina honed in on its hatred to defeat N.C. State 5-3 in the first rivalry matchup of the season and went on to beat the Ice Pack at the Governor’s Cup for the first Governor’s Cup win in program history.

Photo of the UNC club hockey team, who are posing on the ice after winning the Governor’s Cup. The trophy is on the ice in the middle of the photo with the team, who is wearing light blue jerseys and navy shorts, surrounding it, with some players sitting on the ice, and some standing up. A group of fans is gathered behind the team, behind the glass posing for the picture with some celebrating.
The UNC club hockey team celebrates its first Governor’s Cup win in program history. UNC defeated N.C. State 4-2 at PNC Arena on Nov. 21, 2022. Photo courtesy of @tarheelhockey on Instagram.

The two teams taunt each other on social media with tweets saying things like “bye-bye wolfies” and “Tarhole goal,” but this season, UNC got the last laugh. The Tar Heels clinched the series with a 6-3 win over the Wolfpack in the first round of the ACHA Division II regionals.

Whether they’re chasing the competitive nature of Canadian hockey or looking to stretch out their playing career, UNC hockey players participate in the club to keep playing their sport while working for a degree. But, this year, the team’s success brought the club sport to a new level. 

After a record-breaking season that demonstrated North Carolinians’ devotion to hockey, the diverse UNC club hockey team will look forward with hopes of a Division I future.

Edited by Harrison Clark and Noah Monroe

Wife continues husband’s culinary legacy after tragic death

By Ethan Horton

Friday, Oct. 8, 2021

Lauren Erickson decided she was going to keep her husband, Beau Bennett, alive until Friday. All she wanted was to stay with him a little bit longer.

He lay almost lifeless in an ICU bed, four days after suffering a major brain hemorrhage that separated the two halves of his brain.

Even if they were able to save him, the doctors said her husband would “never be Beau again.”

This was uncharacteristic for both of them — Beau was lifeless when he was usually boisterous, and Lauren was finally realizing he wouldn’t come back. 

He’d been arrested, gone to a rehabilitation center and to the emergency room. But he always came back.

Lauren didn’t even realize at the time that Friday, Oct. 8, 2021 — the day Beau died — was their 10th wedding anniversary.

Now, she had to be the wife that kept everything together.


Beau was working as a sauté chef at 411 West in Chapel Hill. Lauren was working as a hostess there, but she never saw Beau. He was always behind a wall of pots and pans.

But he could see her.

One night, after her shift ended, Lauren joined the rest of the staff in an alley beside the building — their place to escape from the noise and relax. Beau, with a Carolina blue bandana wrapped around his head, sat in the alley on an old wooden fence.

“Hey, I’m Beau. What’s your name?”

It was his name that drew Lauren in. Oh, and the bandana. She was a huge Poison fan, and his resemblance to lead singer Bret Michaels was undeniable.

From then on, they took things slow. Sometimes, even four years into their obvious relationship, Beau tried to jokingly tell friends that he and Lauren weren’t official.

Everyone knew they were, Lauren said. 

They were best friends. He was her confidant, her everything.


Everything Beau did was loud, Lauren said. Outrageous, even.

He spoke loud, his laugh was loud, and his feet stomped everywhere he went. He did what he wanted.

Beau wasn’t satisfied being a sauté chef. His personality was too big to be contained in the back of the restaurant. He wanted to be the star of the show.

In 2008, he founded Beau Catering, providing simple Southern food with a twist. He started out with just a cardboard box full of pots and pans and a Honda Accord. No staff, no kitchen.

Somehow, he managed to get a few clients, and he gathered family and friends for catering staff.

“It was beyond bootstraps,” Lauren said. “It was pure ignorance.”

The signature dish — the crab cakes — wasn’t the main attraction for Beau Catering, though.

Beau came out from the kitchen and announced the night’s menu to guests before every event — charisma overflowing, blue bandana still wrapped around his head.

For one wedding, the planner marked out time in the itinerary for “The Beau Show,” and the shtick stuck.

March 2020

After sitting at home during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the catering business completely halted in its tracks. Lauren and Beau were tired of doing nothing.

Luckily, an opportunity fell into their laps.

Carrboro United, a pandemic-era food initiative, started in March 2020 and helped bring more than $1 million back to the community.

Beau Catering signed up and they were busier than ever.

“We went from thinking we were going to… do yoga and stretch and chill in the yard to being very busy without any help,” Lauren said.

Lauren, who hadn’t been involved in the business much pre-pandemic, was thrust into the middle of it all.

She was cooking meals, handing them out and helping run the more practical side of the business, while Beau was off doing whatever Beau wanted to do.

Monday, Oct. 4, 2021

When Lauren walked in the front door after a work trip to Greensboro, she could hear Beau’s breathing from the other side of the house. He was loud, but not usually this loud.

Every single light in the house was out.

Confused, she walked to the back to check on him. For a second, she thought he was just asleep.

He was on the floor, unconscious and struggling to breathe. His phone was on the floor next to him. And he wasn’t waking up.

Beau’s health was notoriously outrageous, just like him, and Lauren had a lot of experience with her own dad’s constant health problems. She calmly packed Beau’s go-bag and headed to the hospital. She didn’t even bring anything of her own. 

If Beau made it through jumping off of a pier at Atlantic Beach or falling in a rocky stream, he’d make it through this, Lauren thought. 

No, she knew.

She’d been through the emergency room wasteland many times so she knew the procedure. Usually, it took a while for the doctors to come and talk to the family — but not this time.

The moment she walked in, a doctor pulled her into a dark, barren conference room.

“I knew at that moment, I knew it was not good,” she said.

She was going to miss him so much — she’d only have her flip book of memories.

The blue bandana. The apple box. The pier. The wedding. The fights. The loud steps. The dog house moments, both ways. The deep conversations that he would make you have with him. The Wendy’s trips that became adventures. The family beach trip they’d taken just the week before. The times he would miss meetings to drive around and have conversations with random people on the street. The smile. The laugh.


Pictures of Beau in his blue bandana hang on the walls of Piedmont Food Processing Center, where Beau Catering is now housed. There are signs of his larger-than-life presence everywhere.

One of Beau’s hires, Katie Hopkins, is now the head chef and general manager. She wears a bandana at work, and has a blue one on the shelf next to her desk.

Lauren, who now owns a financial advising firm, is more involved with Beau Catering thanks to her COVID experience. She said Katie runs the place with much less emotion than Beau did — in some ways, for the better. With staffing turnovers, things have changed.

“There’s a lot of energy that Beau brought that, in theory, I have,” she said. “But it’s hard to have to bring it in a manufactured way when you feel so sad. When you lose your light, it’s hard to fake it. I can see that starting to come back with the team.”

On the chain-link door to a newly acquired storage space is a sign for Beau Catering. In the top left corner of the sign, there’s a note written in orange highlighter:

“You are missed.”

Edited by Courtney Hicks and Halsey Ziglar

From refugee to restaurateur: Med Deli owner creates community

By Kate Carroll

 “The older you get, the more you remember”

A crowd gathered in anticipation under the olive trees outside the Rafedya refugee camp in the West Bank.

Seven-year-old Jamil Kadoura watched from the outskirts with his mother. It was 1967, and the Israeli-Arab war had forced Kadoura’s family out of their home in Jerusalem. 

In their makeshift blanket-tent, Kadoura and his mother strategized over how to get their hands on a bag of food from the upcoming United Nations supply drop-off. 

Kadoura’s mother sent him into the crowd as the sounds of tires approached.

When the van doors slid open, chaos commenced. While bags of food flew through the air, Kadoura found himself underneath a stampede. 

“Hey, get away! There’s a child on the ground!” an older man in the crowd shouted.

He pulled Kadoura out from the trampling while the rest of the crowd continued. 

“It’s funny, the older you get, the more you remember your childhood,” the now 62-year-old Kadoura said. “You’ll realize that later in life.” 

Twelve chairs, six tables

 He reminisced from a table in the Chapel Hill location of his restaurant, Mediterranean Deli and Catering, while his employees prepared for a busy lunch service. The locals just call the place ‘Med Deli.’

There’s still food flying, but today it’s bags of pita for a catering order. There are still vans, but Kadoura owns them — nine of them, to be exact. 

The Arab-Israeli war ebbed throughout Kadoura’s childhood. He attended United Nations refugee schools in the West Bank and Israel-occupied Jerusalem before deciding to travel to the U.S. after high school to continue his education.

At 18 years old, Kadoura landed in Minneapolis, M.N.; he had a nephew living there. 

It was early December, and from the plane, Kadoura could see that a heavy blanket of snow covered the ground. 

“I look out the window,” Kadoura said. “And I said ‘oh, you are kidding. I’m not coming to live here.’” 

He was wearing a T-shirt. 

Kadoura enrolled in the Minnesota School of Business and worked in hospitality to pay for school. After several promotions, he decided not to finish school and instead invested his time in the food and beverage industry. 

A promotion brought him to Durham, N.C., where he worked as a food and beverage director for several hotels — the highest position in the game.

His friends warned him about the South for its conservatism and prejudice. 

“I just make myself not see it,” Kadoura said. “Because if you see it, you keep thinking about it, you don’t go anywhere in life.”

After meeting his wife, Angela, and settling into the area, Kadoura was ready to run his own business.

In 1992, with $16,000 of starter money, Kadoura opened the first Med Deli on West Franklin St. in Chapel Hill. It had 12 chairs, six tables and one six-foot deli case. 

“Everything that the business made, I put it back in the business,” Kadoura said. 

Now, Med Deli has a booming catering business and three restaurant locations with many more tables, chairs, and deli cases. Kadoura said he wouldn’t be where he is today without the support he found in Chapel Hill. 

“I call on the community, the community comes”

 “I started getting to know the community,” he said. “I can honestly tell you, this is one of the greatest communities. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, and I don’t want to raise my kids anywhere else.”

As soon as Kadoura started seeing success at Med Deli, he knew it was time to give back. 

“I think that living in the refugee camp has a lot to do with it — with all my old memories of people running to save the poor people with catastrophic problems,” Kadoura said. “I think it has something to do with the people who helped me before, because automatically, you want to give, too.”

In addition to supporting local charities and student groups, Kadoura and his team have been organizing larger fundraisers for refugees and crisis relief for years now. Most recently, Med Deli hosted a fundraiser following the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. 

“I call on the community, the community comes,” Kadoura said. “People trust us, and people value us, and people just love us, and we love them. So whenever I do a fundraiser, they just swarm the place.” 

The one-day fundraiser raised $30,000 for those affected by the earthquakes.

“He said, ‘I’m donating all of the sales. A hundred percent of the sales for the whole day,’” Catering director Liz Coughlin said. “I mean, literally, he didn’t even think about it five minutes before it came out.”

Before Kadoura hires a new employee, he always gives them the same advice. 

“Don’t work here because you want to stay here the rest of your life.” 

Many of Kadoura’s employees are also immigrants. He hopes that the community at Med Deli will enable them to build a stronger future for themselves.

“Our employees are paid well, but they need more than that,” Kadoura said. “They need opportunities in life. They need a coach that can advise them and show them the way.”

For Kadoura, that means signing a 10-year lease to help his chef of 14 years open his own restaurant.

It also means hiring a homeless man who came in for meals and welcoming him into his own home. 

It means setting up meetings with a Spanish-speaking realtor to help long-time employees to buy a home of their own.

“That, I think, comes from an individual themselves, which is me, myself,” he said. “It doesn’t come from being a business, it comes from you as a person.”

He shares his spirit of generosity with his employees, including his 24-year-old daughter Ambara, who is learning the ropes of the business after graduating college. 

“It’s always important to just give,” Ambara Kadoura said. “I really believe that’s the biggest thing. I swear to God, he instilled that in me and my siblings. And you know, it’s always gotten us so far.” 

At 62, Jamil Kadoura is still working every day, but he’s happy to take a backseat to his younger employees. 

“They all kill me now,” he said. “I go to the back there and they go ‘Patrón, get out of the way!’ Like, I’m too slow for them.”

Kadoura got up from the table while employees carrying trays of hummus and tzatziki paraded out to a catering van. 

Before returning to work, Kadoura had one request.

“Before you leave, I want to get you some lunch,” he said. “And make sure you don’t leave without it.”

Edited by Mattie Collins and Katie Lin