Picking (and Staying on) the Right Path

Tramaine Duncan

Tramaine Duncan takes a break from studying for final exams. He's one of many students who benefit from a variety of support services and programs available at UNC. Photo by Barry LaPoint.

Tramaine Duncan, a sophomore Mathematical Sciences major from Denver, is a former gang member who always wanted to continue his education, but never applied himself in high school.

That changed when he saw his cousin murdered in front of him at a party.

"It just changed my life," Duncan said. "I thought that life was too short to be fighting people and killing people over dope. That could have easily been me lying there instead of him, so I just decided that I needed something new."

"Something new" turned out to be college, and Duncan has found that the secret to success is getting and remaining involved.

He found a surrogate family at the Marcus Garvey Center - one of four cultural centers at UNC - and he has been involved with the Residence Hall Association, a student-run organization that provides communication, education and leadership development opportunities for students.

He's also active in the Center for Human Enrichment, a comprehensive academic support center that helps first-generation and under-represented students succeed academically, personally and professionally.

Duncan said his involvement with the various campus organizations has helped keep him at UNC, and he wants to give back. He's applied to be a CHE peer advisor.

"If I know I can help change how a student feels, I don't want to leave (UNC)," Duncan said. "I feel I can make a difference on this campus."

Building relationships like Duncan has is critical to a student's success, according to Sherri Moser, of UNC's Office of Student Engagement.

"If students have a place to build relationships, then they are more likely to be involved and stay at UNC," she said.

Getting Involved at UNC
Involvement comes in many forms, from learning communities, First-Year Experience and linked courses to advising, free tutoring and supplemental instruction that's offered. There's also the variety of services coordinated through the Student Activities Office, including more than 100 student clubs and organizations, the Center for Peer Education and Community Connections.

- Christina Romero