Before Elizabeth Grady ever set foot in Chapel Hill, she knew she wanted to leave. Studying abroad was near the top of her list of college goals — a dream she fulfilled by traveling to London during the spring her sophomore year as part of the Honors Study Abroad program.
A junior from Greensboro, Elizabeth came to Carolina with a strong interest in journalism and political science. But she never imagined how those two interests would converge through an internship in the British Parliament.
“I always wanted to work in a foreign government and understand how other nations operate, but I never thought in a million years that I would have a chance to work at Parliament. It was an amazing experience,” Elizabeth says.
She worked an intern for Jenny Willott, a former chief whip, and helped her manage a variety of constituent issues.
“It was a real world experience,” she says. “There was no training. I just jumped right in.”
The experience taught Elizabeth two important lessons: the world is much bigger than the bubble of Chapel Hill, and that your dreams can never be big enough.
Elizabeth came to appreciate certain aspects of the American political system, while recognizing other areas that were ripe for improvement. And at the end of the day, she was certain that she wanted to pursue a career that combined politics and media.
Spending a semester in London taught her other valuable lessons as well: Take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. Learn something from everyone you come in contact with. Embrace the experiences that present themselves.
Elizabeth was determined to soak up her experience. She attended every event she could find, focused on making connections with everyone she met, and spent the weekends traveling to Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Prague, Greece, Austria, Germany, and beyond.
She successfully forged lasting relationships with Carolina alumni, fellow Honors Carolina students and professionals she met while working at Parliament. Today, she remains in close contact with a contact at Parliament and Honors Carolina alumni, leveraging those connections to gain career advice and open doors that may guide her future.
Her advice: “Take advantage of every opportunity you can and run with it.”
When Casey Collins first arrived in Chapel Hill, he was certain that he wanted to pursue a career in medicine. He spent his first two years doing exactly what you might expect — acing advanced science courses, conducting research in a stem cell lab and working towards a publication in a scientific magazine.
Working in a lab left him feeling isolated, so Casey started thinking about other ways to explore his passion for science and medicine. After spending a summer in Ecuador researching the impact of a national health care reform, Casey developed a series of new, diverging interests.
During his junior year, Casey spent a semester in Washington, DC studying public policy and working with a non-profit organization serving refugees and immigrants. He honed his research and language skills interviewing children who had entered the United States illegally.
The experience stoked Casey’s interest in law and immigration issues. It led to a local internship at RTI International researching the prevalence of labor trafficking in North Carolina.
Casey, a senior from Charlotte, is now preparing to pursue a law degree when he graduates in May. He’s enthralled by the opportunity to make a tangible and positive impact on the lives of immigrants.
Becoming an immigration attorney is a path Casey never expected when he arrived in Chapel Hill four years ago, but he couldn’t be happier. And he knows that Honors Carolina has prepared him to thrive in the future, no matter what opportunities present themselves.
Casey’s advice: “Trust that things will work out if you follow your passions. Do what you find challenging and exciting and don’t necessarily worry about where it’s going to lead you.”
Casey admits his path was sporadic and non-linear, but following his whims helped him discover his true calling. “It’s been a great experience. I’ll never look back and wish I had taken more risks or done anything differently.”
John Hu, a senior majoring in business and computer science, knows exactly what he’s going to do when he graduates in May. He has a job lined up at Goldman Sachs in New York, where he will be working as an investment banking analyst at one of the world’s leading financial firms.
A life-long techie, it wasn’t that long ago that John planned to pursue a career in technology. He spent two summers working at tech firms, but soon realized he was looking for something more fast paced and meaningful. For someone who always enjoyed following the markets, investment banking proved to be a perfect fit for John.
He took advantage of connections he made through Honors Carolina to land an internship with Goldman Sachs.
“The Wall Street recruiting process is incredibly intimidating,” John says. “If you don’t have a mentor to help guide you, it’s tough.”
Career and professional development workshops helped John sharpen his skills and connect with Honors Carolina alumni who provided invaluable assistance.
“Honors Carolina opened a lot of doors for me. It helped me make meaningful connections with people who were very open and enthusiastic about helping me prepare for the recruiting process because of our shared experience. I’m extremely grateful to the Honors Carolina network for getting me to where I am today.”
Once John started his internship, the relationships he forged through Honors Carolina continued to pay dividends. “They were always there to support me and make sure I was getting the most out of my internship experience.”
His advice to other students: “Do something that you are genuinely passionate about – and once you find that passion, devour it. Talk to everyone you can, read everything you can. Embracing my passion for the markets really helped me in the interview process.”
Completing A Senior Honors Thesis: Three Things You Need To Know
Complete a Senior Honors Thesis by partnering with a faculty mentor to develop original research and creative work. For many students, the thesis becomes a first publication or an important part of their application to graduate or professional school.
Grants up to $500 are available to help offset the cost of conducting a Senior Honors Thesis.
Deadline: April 10
Students completing their senior honors thesis in Spring 2017 must complete all thesis-related work (including defense) by Monday, April 10, 2017.
Graduating With Honors
Your department must report your name to the Honors Carolina office to confirm that you will be graduating with honors in your degree.
Interdisciplinary Minor in Medicine, Literature, and Culture
Examine medicine not only as a scientific enterprise, but also as a cultural practice embedded in changing ideas about disease, the doctor-patient relationship, medical institutions, and medical ethics.
Where The Students Become the Teacher
Gain a new perspective on the classroom experience by developing and teaching a course of your own design.
Students work with a faculty mentor to plan the class in the Fall, then teach a weekly seminar in the Spring.
Morehead-Cain Alumni Visiting Distinguished Professor
Distinguished leaders spend a semester in Chapel Hill engaging with Honors Carolina students on issues of broad intellectual and social significance.