‘I feel powerless’: CHHS teacher adjusts to online instruction

By the time Jade Dickerson closed the guest room door and settled at his desk, the Spanish teacher had been awake for nearly four hours. His computer monitors hummed to life and he flicked on his lamp, illuminating his face just enough so it could be seen on Google Meet.

His makeshift home office in Durham, where he now spends most of his weekdays, is cozy and dark, with tree branches blocking the sunlight from streaming in and catching “The Lady of Shalott” painting on the wall behind him.

If things were normal and he were back at Chapel Hill High School’s recently-renovated campus, Jade would have been in a new classroom with new desks and ample wall space for colorful decorations and posters with Spanish phrases. His twin five-year-old sons would be at kindergarten, singing and sitting cross-legged on a circular carpet. The Dickerson family would be working, learning and making friends without fear of contracting COVID-19.

But this school year has been hasn’t been normal.

At 9 a.m., with the sounds of tiny footsteps padding across the floor below, the teacher of 16 years turned on his camera.

“Hola clase,” he said to the screen, greeting each student individually before starting their bi-weekly lesson.

Social Isolation  

Now a few weeks into school, the twins, Xander and Graeme, are more comfortable with class. They can type in the access codes for their four daily meetings by themselves and can sit still for most of the instruction. They have their own space by the dining room to do their work with whiteboards, counting circles and dice. Cuddly, a small white teddy bear, accompanies the boys to school most days.

Still, either Jade or his wife Karyn, an instructional literacy coach at CHHS, has to stay nearby to resolve any problems.

There have been good days and bad days, according to Jade. But the bad days can be excruciating.

“There’s a lot of tears, a lot of yelling, hurt feelings, thrown iPads, resistance to any suggestions or any motivation to do what’s necessary,” Jade said.

No matter how many games they play or how much drawing they do, Xander and Graeme know this isn’t what school normally feels like. In a typical kindergarten classroom, interaction is almost constant. If Xander wanted to share an idea, he could get his teacher’s attention immediately. He now has to wait for his teacher to see his tiny hand raised in a tiny box on a tiny screen. Then he has to figure out how to unmute his microphone.

As is the nature with twins, the boys have a built-in playmate – but that doesn’t make up for the social interaction they’re missing from being stuck at home.

“What if when we go back to school no one likes me?” one of the boys asked their mom.

Watching the twins get nervous and frustrated with their online setup weighs on the parents.

“I have no way of explaining to my sons why they should be doing this.” Jade said. “I’ve run out of excuses for them.”

Adapting to the Virtual Classroom

Jade is fighting a similar battle in his own online Spanish I and Spanish III classrooms. Though the attendance rates in his synchronous classes are relatively high, at least half of his students keep their cameras turned off. Only about 20% are completing any work outside of class.

Jade can’t tell whether his students are focused on the work in front of them. Some kids are playing video games while being logged into class. Others turn on their audio to answer a question and reveal sounds of cooking, television shows or siblings fighting in the background.

He knows his students are struggling; the transition to online learning, a lack of silent study spaces and no ways to interact in-person with their classmates can be particularly difficult for teenagers.

“I feel powerless, in most cases, to meet their needs, even on the educational level,” Jade said. “There’s just so much I can’t do.”

In an attempt to provide his classes with some sort of normalcy, Jade has relied heavily on breakout rooms. Learning Spanish, he said, requires connection and interaction.

Adam Trusky, a 14-year-old freshman in Jade’s Spanish III class, said the breakout rooms help him meet his classmates, but he doesn’t feel like he’s making new friends. The coursework can also be difficult – he hadn’t practiced much Spanish since school went online in March and classes now only meet twice a week.

“I feel like it’s not really enough,” Trusky said. “It would be much more helpful if we were doing it every day.”

Family Time

By the end of the school day, Jade and Karyn are exhausted from juggling meetings, class and home responsibilities.

They try to focus all their attention on their boys, enjoying the opportunity to just be their parents and enjoy family time. Finding work-life balance is especially difficult when work is at home.

Christen Campbell, a fellow CHHS teacher who’s on maternity leave through November, said she considered taking time off she couldn’t afford before her baby was due because adjusting to virtual school while caring for a young child sometimes felt impossible.

“A lot of teachers feel like they’re dedicating time to other people’s kids and aren’t able to support their own kids as well,” Campbell said.

The three educators have found solace and support in their colleagues and friends, albeit virtually. Teacher group texts and frequent team meetings provide a space to share the highs and lows of educating the public, while also educating their own children.

For the Dickersons, it’s the moments alone, playing with their sons at the end of a long day that melts some of the stress from their shoulders. Five-year-old giggles and family movie nights watching Frozen 2 for the hundredth time can make it feel like their home is just that – a home.

But once the boys are in bed, Jade and Karyn turn back to their computers, already preparing for the next day of class.


Edited by Ryan Heller

Charlotte activists support released inmates, push for bigger changes

By Venetia Busby

Large blue and gray tents housing tubs of clothes, underwear, snacks, water, Gatorade, masks, gloves, medical supplies and hand sanitizer, sit outside of the Mecklenburg County Detention Center. Every day, dozens of volunteers wait for the magistrate’s office doors to open across the street. 

The moment someone walks out of the double doors, volunteers turn their heads and shout, “Did you just get out of jail?” Loud clapping and shouts of excitement quickly fill the area as volunteers greet the recently released inmates with essential supplies and support.

Steam from hot food, provided by community chefs and bakers from Feed The Movement CLT, fills the area as people line up to nourish their bodies. Smiling and laughing volunteers circle around the tent playing games, passing out supplies and offering support.  

Charlotte Uprising, an activist group that formed after a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott in 2016, formed Jail Support, the supply hub and resource center that sits in front of the Mecklenburg County Detention Center.

Jail Support helps transition people from jail to life in society.

“We created Jail Support because there was a need in the community to support people who were released from jail,” Charlotte Uprising organizer Ash Williams said. “There are volunteers who greet and assist people who are released with a ride home, temporary housing, cash and anything that they need.” 

Jail Support started as a care center hub for protesters during the George Floyd protests in Charlotte. Protesters could stop by anytime for first aid care, snacks, water, rides home and emotional support. Jail Support is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, because the arrested protesters can be released from jail at any given time. Jail Support volunteers cheer on the recently released protesters and make sure they are taken care of upon release. 

Additionally, Jail Support runs a hotline that protesters can call if they are arrested, and a bail fund to help them be released from jail. 

Since its beginning, Jail Support has evolved in many ways and now serves more than just protesters. It provides services to the disabled, the homeless, inmates in jail, recently released prisoners, and anyone that walks up to ask for help.

Jail Support is fully funded and supported by the community, with no grants or donations from government entities. It receives all of its supplies and funding through crowdsourcing donations. It also hosts various supply drops throughout Charlotte, where people can donate supplies. 

Beyond the prison gates

Another goal of the Jail Support community is to defund and eventually eradicate the police system. 

“The direct response for the police locking people up and throwing them in cages is Jail Support,” volunteer Ke-TayJah Morris said. “Jail Support could not exist without jails. The only way we’re ever going to stop providing these services is when the prison system is abolished. Until then, our people need us.”

As police officers walk by the tents, volunteers scream the Migos song “F*ck 12” at the top of their lungs to express their disdain and distrust with police. Sometimes, the radical words of N.W.A’s “F— Tha Police”  blare through the loudspeakers as volunteers sing along. 

Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden has adamantly worked toward the removal of Jail Support’s tents and services. On June 18, McFadden gave the Jail Support crew four hours of notice to remove its tents and relocate by 2 p.m. 

The volunteers refused to leave and held a sit-in instead. They posted on social media sites and asked for as many bodies as possible to come to the Jail Support site.

Hundreds of people gathered to protest the removal of Jail Support. Squad cars and paddy wagons multiplied, filling every space on the one-lane street. At around 2 p.m., it seemed like the entire Sheriff’s department was at Jail Support – there were about two officers for every protester. 

Then, blue and red lights flashed and a loudspeaker turned on. 

“We have requested for you all to move,” a police officer said. “We are giving you all a few minutes to disperse before we take action.”

The words echoed for minutes. 

Still, the protesters remained, prepared for whatever came next.

“Our work is essential, just like you think yours is,” Charlotte Uprising leader Glo Merriweather said. “You requested us to move and we denied your request.”  

Immediately, the officers swarmed in like a pack of wolves. Armed with zip ties and handcuffs, they circled around the protesters.

In the blink of an eye, the officers started grabbing protesters, pinned them to the ground and arrested them.

That day, 43 protesters were arrested for trespassing, but with the help of Jail Support’s hotline, all of them were bailed out of jail.

Advocating for more

The arrests were only a minor setback for the Jail Support group – they didn’t let this interfere with their work.

After the mass arrest of volunteers, Williams called for the crew to move their tents and supplies from in front of the jail to across the street. 

“We need Jail Support,” Williams said. “Jail Support is essential because no one else is doing it.”

McFadden claimed that he holds his own jail support through a re-entry program for recently released inmates. He said that it provides housing, clothes and job resources. 

The Jail Support team does not think his program is enough. 

“I’m not sure what McFadden means by his re-entry program because literally, inmates who have been released always come to Jail Support asking for help,” volunteer Mariah Davis said. “And there are so many times that I’ve seen people walk out of that jail without shoes on their feet. You know how dangerous it is to walk outside without shoes? People are released in blue paper shirts or sometimes no shirt at all. Their basic necessities are being stripped away from them inside that jail and they don’t get the proper support after serving their time.” 

Since opening, Jail Support has helped thousands of released inmates and has bailed out over 200 people in the Charlotte area. 

The Jail Support team does not plan to move their tents or supply bins anytime soon. 

 Edited by Anne Tate


Cooking virtually: Chapel Hill chef gives lessons to boy in Maryland

By Britney Nguyen

When he’s not playing Fortnite and talking with his friends, 11-year-old Grayson McBride is in his kitchen making his fancy homemade mac and cheese or coming up with ways to improve the recipe on the back of a box of Ghirardelli brownie mix.

Grayson logs on to FaceTime at 11 a.m. once every two weeks, from his home in Crofton, Maryland, to start his one-hour cooking lesson with Chef Alex Colaianni who is based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Since mid-May, the two have met to cook together over video call.

“A big part of being a chef is we teach all the time,” Colaianni said. “I wasn’t teaching anyone how to cook, so I thought I’d give this a try. I’ve never done it this way.”

Grayson was 10 when he was introduced to Colaianni. At the first meeting, Colaianni interviewed Grayson so he could understand what his parents meant when they told him about their son who loves to cook.

Though Grayson was shy at first, Colaianni was able to warm Grayson up pretty quickly, and the two immediately had a connection. Colaianni said he loves working with kids, and that it reminds him, at 58 years old, what it was like to be 10 or 11.

Though Grayson was shy at first, he quickly warmed up to Colaianni, and the two immediately bonded. Colaianni said he loves working with kids and that it reminds him, at 58 years old, what it was like to be 10 or 11.

“There’s a point when you’re trying to be a chef and say, ‘do this right, and do that right,’” said Colaianni, “then you just look on the screen and go, ‘Oh, I remember that kid. That was me.’”

The makings of a chef

Scott McBride, Grayson’s father, said that when restaurants started closing down because of COVID-19, the family started cooking from home.

“What we tried to do is involve the kids, and we wanted the kids to take some ownership of the cooking process,” McBride said.

The first time Grayson had cooked for his family was two years ago when he made crescent roll pizza pockets. McBride said he and his wife, April, also noticed that Grayson enjoyed when he would make brownies and cookies.

Around the same time, the restaurant where Colaianni worked closed in March due to COVID-19. Being stuck at home created a gap in his schedule, and an opportunity in Grayson’s.

Colaianni said that Grayson’s unique experience reminded him of his 30-something year career. “One or two key moments stand out, and all of them had to do with access to someone I could learn from,” he said.

Preparation and instruction

The cooking duo were introduced after McBride and Marshele Carter, Colaianni’s wife, reconnected in March. They met in 2013 through the master’s program at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media after McBride’s advisor connected them because of his Coast Guard scholarship and their shared military background.

McBride said that when they called each other to check in, Carter told him that her husband, whom she married in November 2019, was a chef.

“We were like, ‘How cool would it be if maybe Alex can teach Grayson during COVID virtually over FaceTime?’” McBride said.

McBride said Carter loved the idea, so they set up the first call in early April to introduce Colaianni to Grayson.

Colaianni said that at the time, he had a menu plan for a restaurant he was planning to open, so he sent the menu to Grayson and told him to research all of the items on the menu. Grayson had to research definitions, cooking styles and origins of food on the menu.

On May 15, Grayson and Colaianni had their first virtual cooking lesson. Grayson learned how to make an omelet, the first thing every chef learns how to make in culinary school.

“It teaches you to manage the heat of your pan,” Grayson said. “I learned that for omelets, you never want to put butter to make your pan not stick, because the butter will brown before the omelet can cook.”

For each of the following lessons, Colaianni would send Grayson a recipe to do research on, then send Grayson’s mom a shopping list with ingredients and tools he would need to prepare the meal.

Since the first lesson, Grayson has learned how to make burgers in a pan, how to roast a whole chicken and how to make mac and cheese with mozzarella, cheddar and brie.

The Final Test

On August 1, Colaianni and Carter visited Grayson’s house to prepare for a 3-hour cooking session for the first time in the same kitchen.

Colaianni and Grayson cooked multiple recipes at the same time while McBride, with the role of sous chef, was trying to keep up.

Grayson and Colaianni served a dinner buffet to Carter, Grayson’s father and mother, his 14-year-old brother Connor, his maternal grandparents and his aunt.

“It was steak asiago on arugula salad, pesto without pine nuts, because me and my brother are allergic, chicken salad with sunflower seeds and golden raisins, caprese salad, roasted Tuscan vegetables, guacamole, salsa and chips and my mac and cheese,” Grayson said.

At the dinner, Colaianni gave Grayson a real chef’s jacket, black with his name embroidered on his left side in neat white letters.

“He got to feel the ultimate thing, which is looking at the faces of the people you’re cooking for and watching them eat your food and seeing how happy they were,” Colaianni said. “He got to be proud.”

Next on the menu…

One of the lessons Grayson learned from Colaianni is that a cook follows recipes, but a chef makes recipes. McBride said Grayson naturally likes to experiment with food.

McBride and Carter wanted to give Colaianni good publicity to thank him for his dedication to teaching Grayson, so they reached out to an adjunct professor in the UNC Hussman School who had contacts at Spectrum News.

On September 3, Grayson and Colaianni’s FaceTime cooking lesson was filmed by a Spectrum News reporter, and Grayson was interviewed for television.

“I’m the chief of media for the Coast Guard so I prepare admirals to speak all the time, but preparing Grayson for that interview was my hardest one,” McBride said.

Although it seems as though Grayson is on track for a promising career as a chef, he’s still only a kid focused on playing flag football, Boy Scouts, swimming and playing percussion in the school band.

“I really have no idea what I want to be when I grow up,” Grayson said.

McBride said it has been an amazing experience watching Grayson grow with Colaianni.

“Alex said that if you want to be a chef, you have to love cooking for others,” McBride said. “Grayson loves that.”


Edited by Evan Castillo

Growing pains abound: A Durham restaurant’s COVID-19 challenges

By Blake Weaver

Jazz music plays while patrons argue among themselves about which flavored butter to order. College students sit next to professional athletes and blue-collar workers sit next to their city leaders. Dame’s Chicken and Waffles really doesn’t have any boundaries, even with a six-foot distance between tables.

“There’s a lot of nostalgia because of the history of the food and the music that we espouse and those two are married together,” Damion “Dame” Moore, co-owner of the restaurant, said. “At the end of the day, we want everybody to come here and experience. If you can learn something from it or share something with someone else, it’s all to the good.”

Even with over 7,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Durham County and mandatory masks, the Durham location keeps their tables full during rush hours. The same holds true for the Cary and Greensboro locations. The three have also pivoted to include a heavy focus on take-out. While there were growing pains abound and problems to be solved on how to go about practices like packaging food, the team eventually worked out simple solutions. Moore said these were good problems to have.

However, the food industry is one of the largest economic victims of the pandemic. Restaurants were forced to close their doors and refocus, or even reimagine, how they would continue to serve food. Dame’s was not immune to that challenge.

Dame’s expansion into Chapel Hill

The brand was originally set to open a new location on Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street, replacing the unit that [B]Ski’s had previously occupied. To Moore and co-owner Randy Wadsworth, opening in Chapel Hill was a no-brainer. The team believed their product had a proven, strong appeal to the demographics on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus that would expand into the greater Chapel Hill area.

Moore remembers college students coming into their Durham location when they opened in 2010, checking in on MySpace and Facebook, and being followed by even more students who did the same thing. Word-of-mouth advertising was the lifeblood of the restaurant back then and students obliged.

When the opportunity to take the recently vacant unit presented itself to the team, they knew they could handle it. Dame’s took ownership of the spot in January and originally looked towards a grand opening in either April or May. The concept would be noticeably different than their three sit-down locations, given the shotgun-style layout. In a space where they would have to pivot to a faster service model, the location would give them direct access to the UNC-CH campus and an undergraduate population of just under 20,000 students.

COVID-19 expansion setbacks

The team then decided to pause the expansion after the nation began shutting down and UNC-CH ordered students to return home.

“Come March, when the pandemic is full blast and people are leaving campus, we didn’t know what was going on in the world, so there was no need to open it now. So that ran its course and then you fall into the whole thing where now we’re in the summer and no one is really on campus,” Moore said. “Do you open and try to make it through the summer or do you pull back and see what happens?”

Moore thinks it was one of the team’s smartest decisions to not open at that time. When his team began looking at Chapel Hill, and up until the team decided to pause their new expansion, they felt it made no economic sense to try and rush things.

He looked at the recent closings of Medici, Lula’s and Lotsa Pizza, all at the main intersection of Franklin Street. All premium products in a market saturated with cheaper alternatives.

Moore and his team have considered the instability of Franklin Street’s restaurant market and they are not looking to simply rely on just their established product and brand.

This won’t be the brand’s first foray into a comparably faster service model. In 2015, the restaurant opened a quick service location on Duke’s Central campus named “Dame’s Express.” While it was difficult maintaining the nuance of the brand with the altered restaurant style, Moore believed that utilizing a different technique was a great experience.

“I do think that our brand has strong appeal. I do think we are a proven concept in this market and that people value it. I have fairly good confidence that our team will be able to execute at a high enough level to exceed expectations and do well in that market,” Moore said. “It also doesn’t hurt that we have a catering ability.”

Meanwhile, the three sit-down locations continue to serve guests both in-house and through takeout. Dame’s is also partnering with Durham Delivers, a food delivery service that pairs local restaurants with community members to make deliveries to designated areas. The service works to help restaurants avoid the high costs of food delivery services.

Moore anticipates the Chapel Hill location doesn’t have long before opening, as the physical aspects and inspections wrapping up and the administrative work is not far behind. He is delighted by is the patience and support his team has seen from the Chapel Hill community while they take their time getting the location up to Dame’s Chicken and Waffles’ high standards.

Edited by Natalia Bartkowiak

UNC Athletic Trainer Scott Oliaro Adjusting Role as COVID-19 Continues

By: Brian Keyes
Staff writer

Physical therapy wasn’t for Scott Oliaro, he knew that much. His friends and colleagues sing his praises, pausing during an interview to make sure you recognize just how great he is. How he’s uncommonly communicative and empathetic with the UNC athletes, coaches and staff he sees every day.

But 26 years ago, just months after finishing a brief career playing American football all the way out in Finland, UNC’s current Associate Director of Sports Medicine found himself working in a physical therapy clinic before entering UNC’s graduate school for athletic training.

Sure, the basics of physical therapy are the same as athletic training. One works with people to help regain their range of motion, flexibility and strength. Asking “does it hurt when you bend your right knee? How about the left one? Can you flex both legs for me?”

However, physical therapy wasn’t Oliaro’s passion. He didn’t want to see people walk on their feet, he wanted to see people sprint and fly through the air. When Oliaro played football at Cornell, he had to work every day for months to come back from a strained hamstring. Those moments gave him energy; physical therapy didn’t.

At the clinic, Oliaro once treated a football player who tore several ligaments in his knee. He wasn’t expected to return to football after his surgery, but he worked countless hours with the athletic trainers and on his own to regain the speed and strength he once had. Not only did that player get back on the field, but he also played multiple years in the NFL.

It was athletes like that made Oliaro realize his true calling. He enjoyed watching athletes work back from injury to pursue their dreams. Unfortunately, these individuals went to athletic trainers, not physical therapists.

“People weren’t always as committed to doing the work and putting in the effort to getting better,” Oliaro said 27 years later, reflecting on how he knew physical therapy wasn’t for him. “So I wanted to work with people who were as committed as I was.”

When Oliaro switched professions, no one questioned his credentials and experience, He holds Cornell’s record for single-game rushing yards and remains seventh all-time in career touchdowns. Additionally, Oliaro was inducted to his alma mater’s hall of fame, won an Ivy League championship at Cornell in 1990, and was twice named to the All-Ivy second team.

“I think that’s incredibly important when you’re dealing with kids,” UNC head field hockey coach Karen Shelton said about Oliaro. “Nobody wants somebody that hasn’t walked the walk.”

Weathering Storms 

Ask a random athlete what makes someone a good athletic trainer and they might tell you their trainer needs knowledgable or communicative. Ask Mario Ciocca, the Director of Sports Medicine at UNC, what makes Scott Oliaro a good athletic trainer? His willingness to weather storms. Literally.

Oliaro would take it upon himself during hurricanes or weather-caused university shutdowns to tell his staff to stay at home and check that they were safe before heading to the Stallings Evans Sports Medicine Center to treat the athletes who still had to go through recovery.

“It’s just little things like that,” Ciocca said. He then quickly corrected himself. “Actually that’s a huge thing.”

Oliaro’s other virtues are small tasks but are all incredibly important to build trust with a coach and their players. He texts the men’s golf team words of encouragement while they’re at a tournament and he comforts a field hockey player when he has to deliver the news that she tore her ACL.

“He’s invested in the people that he’s close with, he wants them to be successful, he wants to help,” Andrew DiBitetto, the men’s golf coach at UNC, said. “It’s pretty simple, he’s just an incredible human being.”

Coronavirus Confusion 

Last Sunday, Oliaro was covering a field hockey practice as the team’s head athletic trainer, a position he’s held since 2007. It was a brisk morning, a nice reprieve from the sweltering North Carolina heat and humidity that UNC athletes know all too well during the first days of fall training.

The practice is a brief respite from the confusion that has become Oliaro’s job for the past six months. Working with athletes as an athletic trainer is all about knowable — what was their range of motion before an injury? What about after? Are they able to lift the same amount of weight?

When COVID-19 came, it made Oliaro and the rest of the sports medicine department’s job incredibly difficult. There is no cure or vaccine and the long term effects of the virus are inconclusive.

At that first practice, the feelings of confusion, worrying and vulnerability were present since back on March 13, when the United States declared COVID-19 a national emergency.

Oliaro thinks back to how he would have handled this pandemic had it struck back in his playings days.

“Not well,” he freely admits.

According to Oliaro, he would have felt cheated like something was stolen from him. These thoughts help him understand just how hard this has been for his athletes.

“It’s difficult,” he said with a sigh, taking a moment to collect his thoughts.

“When you get calls from kids who aren’t feeling well or have tested positive, to try and talk with them to make sure they’re ok, try to manage them from a health and safety standpoint, as well as a mental health standpoint.”

Sports at UNC are still happening, for now. Football started last Saturday and the first game of the season for field hockey was on Sunday.

Is he scared? UNC’s Associate Director of Sports Medicine won’t say for sure. He’s unsure about what’s coming next, when the pandemic will end, and what the world will look like when it does.

For now, he’s trying to control what he can, keeping the focus on the athletes who depend on him to keep their bodies strong. So, he tries to keep his spirits high, and with another sigh, he soldiers on into the unknown.

Edited by: Luke Buxton

“Someone that never allowed someone to mute her”: Meet Arkansas’ first Black Rodeo Queen

By Ruth Samuel

Beneath the red, white, and blue diamond-encrusted crown lies the trailblazer who paved the way for Black kids in cowboy hats, long before Lil’ Nas X.  21-year-old Ja’Dayia Kursh became Arkansas’ first Black rodeo queen in 2017.

“I didn’t grow up on a ranch or with horses. I just had a dream,” Kursh said. “I did everything in my power to make it come true without help from family.”

With a father who is incarcerated, a cosmetologist mother, and five other siblings, Kursh had to work and raise her own funds to rent her first horse. Now, the “Classy Black Cowgirl” with over 12k Instagram followers is signing partnerships with Wrangler.

“My family always said, ‘She’s different. She’s always the one that’s doing something crazy.’ But they were supportive more than anything,” Kursh said.

Her Journey Started Early

At six years old, Kursh was sexually assaulted. After grappling with depression and anxiety for months, Kursh’s therapist handed her the reins to her freedom.

She brought Kursh and her mother, Nishawn Horton, to her ranch. The six-year-old had her first bumpy ride on a glossy chestnut mare named Sunshine.

“[Her therapist] said, ‘this is a 1500-pound animal. If you can control this horse, you can control anything that comes your way,’” Kursh said.

She then started riding in the Pony Express with youth amateur group the Arkansas Seven, making appearances at parades and festivals.

At age 13, she wanted to try out for the Old Fort Days Dandies, a premier traveling drill team. Her mother is her biggest fan. But, when her baby Ja’Dayia — “my chocolate” — wanted to compete, she was concerned.

Horton said, “No, we’re not going to do this. A Black girl has never done this. You’re going to get hurt. When I saw her in the arena and there were about over 1000 people, I was nervous and just in shock. One minute I’m excited, the next I’m praying, ‘God, don’t let her fall.’”

Wearing a hot pink top, a glittery silver vest, and Old Fort Days Dandies chaps, Kursh charged out of the white gates atop her steed, Queen. She won over the hearts of spectators at the Barton Coliseum, igniting so much pride in her own family members.

Her great-aunt Anita Faye remembers being overcome with joy the first time she attended one of Kursh’s shows.

“It was an emotional roller coaster for me, to see [my nephew’s] baby doing good when he should be out, happy to see her ride and everything,” the 57-year-old said. “I feel like my prayers have been answered as far as that child is concerned.”

Racism and Haters 

However, not everyone loved Kursh. She was the target of countless racist “jokes” from her own teammates. The prestigious veneer of the 41-year-old rodeo dynasty she was once obsessed with was completely shattered.

Kursh remembers one time she left her helmet at home, so the owner of the arena lent her a yellow construction helmet.

“One of my teammates’ brothers took a picture of me and he posted it on his story, saying that I looked like a Negro Bob the Builder,” she said.

Incident after incident, Kursh was told to “let it go” and to be the bigger person. From being taunted with the n-word, referred to as a monkey, and ridiculed in private group chats, Kursh’s Dandy “Sisters” isolated and abandoned her like an orphan. Despite coaches’ dismissal of her complaints, it never dimmed her light.

Financial professional Mike Tuttle said, there was a maturity about her that was beyond the kids she was with. He first met Kursh during the summer of 2015, when the Dandies headed to his five-acre ranch in Lindale, Texas for a competition.

“It was just one of those matches made in heaven,” Tuttle said. “Sometimes you just out of nowhere meet someone and know you’ll be connected to hip forever.”

He was drawn to her talent as a drill rider and was shocked to learn what she endured in the troupe.

“My first reaction was anger, number one. What would possess anybody to be so cruel to somebody for no reason?” Tuttle said. “By nature, I always root for the underdog. Immediately I told Ja’Dayia, I’m all in.”

The 70-year-old ended up paying for a semester of college at the University of Arkansas, where Kursh is majoring in criminology with a minor in journalism.

She Persisted, and Won.  

Horton remembers hearing the words: ‘‘2017 Rodeo Queen of Coal Hill, Ja’Dayia Kursh.”

“I promise you, I heard myself scream,” she said. “Before people were looking at the field, they were looking at me because of how loud I was screaming.”

Though it was hard for Horton to raise Kursh as a single teen mother, she has always been one of her daughter’s loudest supporters — and the only woman she can drive 45 minutes to for home-cooked lasagna each Sunday night.

Kursh didn’t even know that she was the first Black rodeo queen in Arkansas until 2 years later in 2019. She was a senior in high school, just doing something that she loved. Apart from her rodeo queen title, Kursh was the first girl in Fort Smith, Arkansas to play varsity football at Northside High School.

“There were so many times that I wanted to give up Rodeo Queen and just want to quit, but I know that I can go to Miss Rodeo America,” Kursh said. “For me, I just want to be remembered as someone that never allowed someone to mute her.”

Edited by Jackie Sizing 

A need for change: The quarantine effect on college hair

By Amelia Keesler

CHAPEL HILL – It was a Friday morning in June. The rising college senior sat in the comfort of her Honda CR-V. She pulled down the sun visor and adjusted the mask that covered the lower half of her face. Her reflection had changed.

Hair above her eyebrows.

A mustache for her forehead.


A socially defined hallmark of self-doubt. A physical manifestation of internal calamity. Or in this case, quarantine boredom.

Across the country, school closures, remote learning, and quarantined isolation have redefined the American college experience. An experience typically marked by self-discovery, experimental whims and newfangled independence. The “best four years of your life,” for many university students, now spent in the depths of childhood bedrooms, forced to find new outlets for self-expression.

For some UNC-Chapel Hill students, this meant getting a new haircut.

“This past week alone, I have had 3 requests for bangs,” Darian Thornton, a hairstylist in Chapel Hill, said. “I think everyone is feeling the quarantine effect.”

The quarantine effect: A desperate attempt to find oneself in isolation by taking scissors to baby hairs, bleach to untouched roots, and pastel dye to virgin locks. A desire for change that is both overwhelming and temporary. An impulse that often finds its source in something more authentic than aesthetics.

“They say they need a change, that they need control,” Thornton said. “Hair is the first thing we go to when we need that sense of autonomy.”

Michelle Li, ‘20: The Vibrant-Tinted 180   

UNC-CH senior, Michelle Li, first dyed her hair a year ago during her semester abroad in Morocco. Her silky black hair was aqua blue, then bleach blonde, then lilac purple. She returned to school last month with a full head of cotton candy pink hair dye.

Li started bleaching her own hair in May after her summer internship was canceled, and she was forced to move back home with her parents in Boca Raton, Florida.

“I was feeling really down, really unmotivated,” Li said.

Before quarantine, Li spent her spare time with her camera, pressed against the front barricade at Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro’s live music venue. She captured artists mid-high note. Snapped silhouettes of packed arenas overflowing with strangers.

Cat’s Cradle closed in March, the same month the university ceased operation. The same month Li moved home.

“When COVID-19 happened, I recognized how much I valued my creativity even more, and I wanted to find an outlet. Dying hair has allowed me to do that.”

Li started posting her transformations on YouTube. Her first video, titled, “I dyed my hair again *I did a full 180* (with good music),” gained traction from her high school friends who started asking for their own product-induced renewal. She introduced a mask-required hair service in the familiarity of her high school bathroom. She hoped to give her friends a similar sensation of self-discovery, even if it came from a bottle of hydrogen peroxide.

“In the hair dying process, you learn to love it and love yourself. It’s not about the hair color, it is about the newness, the difference, the feeling.”

Emma James, ‘21: The Mentally-Stable Bang Bob

“I spent all spring and summer in my childhood bedroom getting over health issues,” UNC-CH senior Emma James said. “It felt like the time to chop everything off.”

James medically withdrew from her spring semester due to chronic migraines. She spent the previous semester in Florence, Italy. The last time she was on campus, she was 19.

“When I got back to school, I picked up some kitchen scissors, walked into my bathroom, and walked out with bangs.”

At some undetermined moment in history, bangs, impulsive bangs, became a sign of existential crises: a marker of post-break up reinvention, a hint of crippling loneliness.

James’ scissor impulse spurred from a persistent struggle of physical exhaustion. Headaches that coerced her into the depths of her bedroom until the late afternoon. Pounding sensations that kept her from singing. Light sensitivities that dismissed her exercise routine.

A physical battle manifested into a mental battle, taking the form of curtain bangs. Curtain bangs, which became more than new facial topography. A symbol of growth, an excitement for what’s to come, a clean slate.

“In quarantine, we’ve had to step back and reflect on who we are. Cutting your hair can really be a weight lifted,” James said. “I wanted this year to feel super authentic with myself.”

Luke Collins, ‘22: The Curly Bleached Crisis 

Luke Collins had never altered his hair. No dye, no bleach, no unnatural chemical had ever touched his thick, brown, curly locks. Until a week ago.

“The last three months have been the most terrifying, but also most revelatory times of my life,” Collins said. “I felt like I had lost my sense of self, and my sense of creativity.”

Like so many others, Collins, a rising junior at UNC-CH, was left with the option of moving back to his hometown, into a bedroom he was not allowed to decorate.

He called it his “gay crisis.” An impulse inspired by pop celebrities and social media phenomena. A dramatic change provoked by domineering male presences in his home. A bottle of silver undertone purchased out of a desire for control.

“Something so seemingly small can be such a driving force in how we can relate to the inner parts of ourselves,” Collins said. “When I changed my hair color, I felt like I really had ownership over my body, a feeling I felt I lost as a child. It was like a huge weight lifted off of me, the weight from the last couple of months was being stripped away.”


The rising college senior, nestled in the comfort of her Honda CR-V, folded the sun visor back into place. She picked up her phone to a text that read, “You got bangs, and I feel like I have to ask, are you ok?”

To which I answered, “I feel lighter.”

Edited by Alana Askew

Historic Hillsborough inn to open after extensive renovation

By Korie Dean

Elise Tyler immediately saw the for-sale sign outside of the dilapidated Colonial Inn. The building’s exterior, once painted an almost blinding white, had faded into a dull gray after decades of neglect. Sections of siding were rotting, and some of the inn’s windows were boarded up.

Tyler had felt drawn to the two-story antebellum inn since she moved to North Carolina from Cape Code in 2007.  She often spent evenings at Tupelo’s Restaurant, a now-closed downtown dinery where her roommate at the time worked. She said she would glance up West King Street and stare at the nearby inn, captivated.

After 10 years of admiring the inn from outside, Tyler had a chance to enter. She saw the inn’s owner standing on its cobblestone front porch, and he let her walk through the building.

Tyler said the inn’s lobby only had natural lighting, which seeped in through its original windows.  Paint and 1950s-era wallpaper fell to the floor in flakes. The water-stained ceiling sagged in a pronounced “U” shape as if it were smiling. The green carpeted floors were soaked with 20 years of moisture from the caved-in roof. This filled the room with the stench of mildew.

“It was in complete disarray, and I was totally, completely in love with it,” Tyler said.

She envisioned a bride standing on the original handcrafted wooden staircase. She pictured a group of old friends laughing in a state-of-the-art event space, celebrating their long-awaited retirement. In the next room, young professionals could unwind after a long day’s work in a swanky, moody bar.

Tyler said she did not know if her dream was possible. Could the building be repaired? Could she find others to help her?

Getting help and overcoming obstacles

Determined to make her dream a reality, Tyler assembled a team that shared her fearless vision.

Justin Fejfar, a structural engineer, drafted plans while his wife, Sunny Fejfar, researched the inn’s history and picked out decor. Reem Darar, a general contractor, brought her expertise for historic preservation. Majority investors Joe and Emily Goatcher, provided financial support, along with nine minority investors.

And Tyler, now the inn’s general manager, led the project with a fiery passion. She said the team members fit together so perfectly it felt cosmic.

After eight months of planning, including attending hours-long meetings to convince town leaders that their dream was possible, the team broke ground.

They still encountered problems. Subcontractors refused to enter the inn because of reported ghost sightings and asbestos. COVID-19 delayed the project’s completion for weeks.

Through it all, they became a family, Tyler said.

We’ve had to rewrite some of the course of our lives to make this happen,” Tyler said. “That creates a very strong bond.”

A rich, forgotten history

When Tyler first entered the Colonial Inn in July of 2017, the building was merely a sad relic of the former heart of Hillsborough’s tourism industry.

Although the founding date featured on its iconic mid-20th century marquee cites 1759 as the inn’s founding date, historical records suggest it was built in 1838. The inn hosted countless weddings, celebrations and Sunday lunches throughout its almost 200-year history.

Union soldiers ransacked the building after the Civil War, stopping only when they saw the owner’s wife display her husband’s Masonic apron from the balcony – a silent cry for mercy.

And while there’s no proof that former President George Washington was among the inn’s earliest guests, this story is a centerpiece of local lore, passed down by generations.

The inn closed in 2001 after its owners ran into financial trouble. The owner who followed them promised to renovate it, but he let the building fall into disrepair.

Private citizens and community groups tried to save the inn throughout the years, but in 2015, the Town of Hillsborough declared eminent domain and charged the aforementioned owner with demolition by neglect.

When Tyler’s team placed an offer of more than $850,000 in 2018, the inn officially changed hands.

From the beginning, the team wanted the inn to reclaim its place as Hillsborough’s front porch. They envisioned a building where lifelong residents could relive nostalgic memories and tourists could relax after a day exploring the historic town.

Every decision, from paint colors to light fixtures to the font on the new marquee sign, was made with the community in mind.

“There was no reason to do this whole thing if it wasn’t consistent with what the community needed,” Tyler said.

Tyler’s team likely won’t be the last to own the building.  Nevertheless, a long-awaited renovation, coupled with the inn’s surviving 19th-century architecture, has cemented its staying power in the heart of Hillsborough’s downtown for years to come.

Realizing a dream

Today, Darar is crouched down, giving a last-minute scrub to the blue and gray ornamental rug in the bar area of the soon-to-be operational inn.

“Stop stepping on the rug!” she tells Tyler. “I’m going to have to bring my Hoover in here.”

After three years of planning and construction, it’s staging day.

The owners are putting finishing touches on the 28-room boutique hotel and event space. Soon, florists and caterers will fill the halls as photographers document the final stages of the multimillion-dollar renovation. The inn looks quite different now.

In the lobby, sapphire-colored velvet booths glisten under gold lights, bringing a modern touch to the traditional structure. The original oak floors beneath are freshly mopped, no longer covered by mildewed carpet. The event space, which had to be rebuilt from the ground up, is covered in white and gold marble tile.

The space is ready for a bride and groom’s first dance under crystal chandeliers.

A few missing floor vents, small trails of sawdust and stray power cords make it clear that the inn is still a construction site – but Tyler and her team are almost done.

Looking through 8,000 renovation pictures taken on her iPhone, Tyler says she can hardly fathom that they’ve made it this far. Next month, the inn’s doors will open to the public for the first time with a large celebration.

The power was turned on last month, lighting up the inside of the neoclassical structure for the first time in two decades and illuminating three years of hard work.

Tyler’s husband drove up to the inn late that night.

He said he saw the inn’s warm, glowing light pouring out of its original windows onto the street. And like the beacon of hope Tyler dreamed it would become that fateful day three years ago – the inn welcomed her husband inside.

Edited by Ellie Heffernan

Chapel Hill’s Time-Out Restaurant hangs on as COVID-19 sends students home

By Jared McMasters

When COVID-19 sent UNC-Chapel Hill classes online and students packing up to return home in March, Eddie Williams was worried for the future of his restaurant.

Williams, the owner of Time-Out Restaurant, helplessly watched many of his customers disappear, returning to their hometowns. His restaurant on East Franklin Street began to suffer from the financial burdens of the COVID-19 pandemic which have forced countless small businesses to permanently shut their doors.

“Things really started to plummet,” said Williams.

With his life’s work on the line, Williams realized his best option was to keep the restaurant’s food consistent and the homely atmosphere alive. Time-Out is famous in the area for being open 24/7 for the last 42 years. He knew that if he could show his customers that their favorite establishment for Southern comfort food was not changing, then he had the opportunity to survive.

He spent nearly every waking minute at the restaurant.

While everyone else was sleeping, he would enter the restaurant’s black wooden doors at 4 a.m., starting his days before the sun was up.

If he was lucky, he would get to leave at 6 p.m. before the dinner rush started. If he was not as lucky, he would not come home to his wife, Valerie, until almost 9 p.m.

Time-Out is a “labor of love” for Williams. His unmatched work ethic is the reason why he still mans the cash register and serves customers after more than four decades.

“I’ve had to put it into a different gear,” he said. “And I didn’t even know I had another gear.”

It always goes back Chapel Hill

 Williams and his wife have always been part of the Chapel Hill community.

His father, Jack Williams, was a sports information director for the University in the early days of the Dean Smith basketball era. Eddie grew up running around press boxes, eating dinners with Smith’s family and going on beach trips with the Tar Heel football coach at the time, Bill Dooley.

He met his wife in the halls of Chapel Hill’s Guy B. Phillips Middle School when he was in eighth grade and she was in the seventh. Three children and six grandchildren later, the couple remains inseparable.

“I’m Chapel Hill through and through,” Williams said, sitting in one of Time-Out’s wooden booths along a wall of windows and UNC-CH memorabilia. “We bleed Carolina blue.”

During his former years working at his uncle’s old restaurant, River View Steakhouse, he fell in love with the Western-style sizzling steaks and the pizza tavern in the back.

He knew he wanted to make his own mark on the restaurant industry and figured there was no better place to start than in his hometown.

Within a year of graduating from UNC-CH, he married Valerie and opened Time-Out in its original location, on Franklin Street where Target is now. His father-in-law called him crazy for growing up so quickly.

“Now that I’m a father-in-law, I’d have thought the same thing,” Williams said. “But I knew I could outwork anyone.”

 His loyal customers

 Williams understands the never-ending struggle to meet customers’ standards because you’re only as good as the last time somebody ate there.

“Making people happy gets in your blood,” he said. “The fact that they choose you and your food makes you feel connected to them.”

For Williams, it is rewarding to hear the praises of longtime customers, like Cliff Butler, who have been coming to Time-Out for generations.

Butler started dining at the restaurant over 30 years ago when his nephew worked as a cook for Williams. He swears that taking home a Time-Out honey biscuit, drizzling it with half-and-half, smearing a thin layer of butter on top and microwaving it for 30 seconds has been the source of his energy for the last three decades.

“It’ll change your life,” he said.

About 15 years ago, though, the restaurant occupied a more sentimental place in Butler’s heart.

He and his wife were in desperate need of a turkey for their Thanksgiving dinner, so Butler picked up the phone to call Williams, the one man with a restaurant he knew would be open to serve him.

Later that evening, Butler drove up to Time-Out’s curb. Williams handed him a roasted turkey with stuffing and gravy cooked to perfection. The bird was so hot that the steam could be seen in the cold air, and Butler almost dropped it while loading it into his car.

He has recommended Time-Out’s turkeys to his friends ever since.

Even for customers who appeared later, like Mike Roach, it did not take long to realize Time-Out’s uniqueness.

Roach’s son saw Time-Out make an appearance on the Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food” show when he was in middle school about 12 years ago and begged his dad to take him to the diner.

They each ordered the chicken and cheddar biscuit featured on the show, and the cheese “unbelievably” melted in their mouths.

The traditional Southern cooking and welcoming environment instantly made them feel at home.

“I think Eddie and his team are just genuine,” Roach said. “He just cares about people. I’ve seen him just talking to customers that he knows because he’s friends with everyone.”

Even when Time-Out was forced to move next to the post office on the western end of Franklin Street in 2014, the comfortable atmosphere remained the same. When they checked out the new location, the father and son were amazed by all the photos of former UNC-CH star athletes lining the restaurant’s Carolina blue wall.

Black and white photographs of Kenny Smith making the timeout gesture with his hands by the entrance and one featuring Michael Jordan leaning against his first Mercedes-Benz in the Granville Towers parking lot caught their eyes. Roach knew that Williams was not the type to fall for celebrities, so all the photographs had to be on the wall because the ones featured truly loved the owner and his food.

“He’s an establishment in the community,” Roach said.

A case of Déjà vu

About two weeks after students left Chapel Hill in the spring, business began to pick back up at Time-Out and has continued to ever since.

Steadily, Time-Out saw a flow of regulars returning to the restaurant, like Clayton, a friend of Williams’ who picks up a to-go box of scrambled eggs, toast and a large half and half tea around 9 a.m. every morning.

Sales returned to normal, so Williams never had to cut anyone’s hours or lay off any of his employees; he did not think he would have even had the heart to do it.

For him, it felt like the community was rallying around a staple of the area.

“People know we’re open 24 hours a day, so they know they can come in,” said Cheryl Lee, Williams’ assistant. “He’s never locked his doors to turn people away.”

Now, Williams experiences a repeated turn of events as students leave campus again this fall. However, his faith rests in the values and cooking that have kept his business alive for over 40 years to continue to make a difference through these difficult times.

“A man told me one time, ‘Just take something simple and do it the best that you can,’” he said. “I think I’ve done that.”


Edited by Sarah DuBose

First-generation students face new obstacles amidst global pandemic

By Anna Pogarcic

Savannah Pless, first-year

Savannah Pless probably spends about eight-hours on her laptop each day. She goes between watching her online classes and doing her homework, rarely leaving her desk.

Usually, a first-year at UNC-Chapel Hill like herself would be spending their first few weeks of classes getting lost on the main campus in a sea of brick buildings, or signing up to join too many clubs and instantly regretting it. Instead, she’s doing her first year of college at her home in China Grove, North Carolina, more than 100 miles away from Chapel Hill.

She’s not the only student who isn’t on campus this year due to the pandemic, but she does feel that she has extra hurdles. On top of being a first-year, she’s the first person in her family to go to college. Every day has brought new twists during the last few months, and she never knows what to expect.

About twenty percent of the class of 2024 are first-generation students like her, and no matter what year they are, this year is testing their strength. All of these students are trying to find their footing, but many of them feel like they’re scaling this mountain alone.

Pless always thought about going to college, even if she didn’t realize it at the time. She remembers being as young as 10 years old and helping her father feed calves on the family’s farm. From that moment she knew she wanted to work with animals for the rest of her life.

However, going through the application process was mostly trial and error.

“I really didn’t feel like I had anyone to talk to about the application process or what I should be going through, or even what career I was pursuing or what I wanted to do,” she said.

College websites were a puzzle; even when she could find the application, she didn’t know how many essays she had to write, how to seem like the perfect candidate, or when to apply. By the time she had applied, was accepted, and committed to UNC-CH, it was late April. North Carolina was approaching 600 reported cases, and people were still saying it would all be over soon.
Before she knew it, Pless was doing orientation virtually. Move-in day for her consisted of changing the color of her bedroom from purple to teal. Not a bright or neon blue, but one that will help her focus.

Those teal walls surround her as she tries to balance her classes, assignments, and her professor’s preferences. But it’s not the difficulty of the classes that worries her most, it’s the thought that she’s missing out.

Aside from one person from her high school that also goes to UNC-CH, she hasn’t had an opportunity to make any friends, meet new people, or do any of the traditions that come with being a first-year, like convocation.

“I’m sure they’ll do them at a later time, so I’ll eventually get that experience, I hope,” she said.

Abbas Hasan, junior
For Abbas Hasan, a first-generation junior at UNC-CH, those experiences made the university feel like home. Without them, he doesn’t even feel like he’s in Chapel Hill, even though he’s living in his off-campus apartment.
When he toured the campus as a high school senior, he noticed the trees right away. In Dallas, where he grew up, he mostly knew pavement and gray buildings, but Chapel Hill was overflowing with greenery. He didn’t think it was possible to live somewhere like that.

It took him a semester and a half to feel that he was finally adjusted once he moved here. Aside from the fact that he was several states removed from his family, students tore Silent Sam down on his first night on campus. His parents were on the plane to Texas when it happened, and they didn’t stop texting him for days once they landed.

With social unrest, hurricanes, and a water crisis happening all while he was trying to figure out how to adjust to a new place, make friends and decide on a major, he felt like everything was coming at him all at once. He felt like it couldn’t get more complicated than that.

Then, when he finally had a solid friend group and declared an American studies major, the pandemic sent him back to Texas in March. He still feels lucky because at least he’s not a first-year while he’s doing virtual college.  “The way that I made friends and connected with this university would have been impossible to do,” he said.

But some students are trying. Melanie Krug is the president of the First Generation Student Association, which provides resources and community building opportunities to students each year. What usually would be game nights or speaker events with food are now happening on Zoom, which she said isn’t the same environment.

“They don’t really get to have that click moment with each other, either,” she said. “One of my favorite things at events (is) when people end up sitting down next to each other and talking and they’re like, ‘oh, where do you live?’ to ‘what floor are you on? Oh, no way, what’s your major?'”

First-years are always eager to make friends, she said, and her organization encourages people to get to know each other so they can at least wave if they cross paths on campus. Those little moments can’t happen now, and that can be isolating for anyone, let alone a student who has no support system going into UNC-CH.

“Carolina is about the space and the people and the buildings,” Hasan said. “It’s not this idea, it’s something you work for.”

Kamryn McDonald, resident advisor

Kamryn McDonald is a resident advisor in the first-generation residential learning program at Hinton James Residence Hall. She said many first-generation students are vulnerable now that they aren’t on campus and can’t get these experiences outside of their family setting. Many of them don’t have a supportive environment at home, or they may struggle to build confidence.

“I worry that if you don’t have some foundational relationships with people that are really important to you and that you trust, or that you don’t have a faculty member that voices support for you, I can see why you wouldn’t want to stay or why college wouldn’t feel right to you,” she said.

She remembers staying up late with her suitemates during her first year at UNC-CH, playing card games, and talking. Every Sunday, they would get brunch at Chase Dining Hall, and she would order vegan banana french toast because it’s sweeter than regular french toast. That community helped her get used to the university, and that’s what Pless and Hasan miss the most.


Edited by Aashna Shah