For Sociology major Seth Morones, the day he received his acceptance letter from UNC was the day he found a home.
After spending his high school years being shuffled from one foster home to another, he found himself sleeping at a group home for at-risk youth or on friends' couches. He realized that he had to take his fate into his own hands and he started applying to colleges.
Arriving at UNC in January 2010 without even a toothbrush, Morones embraced university life, eventually qualifying for both the Honors and McNair Scholars programs, earning the title of Resident Assistant of the Year for 2013 and serving as assistant to the director for UNC's Center for Honors, Scholars and Leadership.
Along the way, his experiences as a homeless youth became the impetus for an award-winning research project.
The project, which won a 2013 UNC Research Excellence Award and a McNair Scholars Program scholarship, involved interviewing other formerly homeless college students to identify what he refers to as "resource relationships for homeless youth who are seeking to gain access to higher education opportunities."
"In short, who did they work with to take the next step in their educational careers, and what did those relationships look like," Morones said.
After winning the UNC awards, Morones presented his research at the 2013 National Conference on Undergraduate Research and the 2013 National McNair Research Conference.
He said that going through the research process helped him discover his passion for assisting others to gain an education. Morones will graduate with a 3.6 GPA and plans to pursue graduate studies in educational policy in urban and higher education at Penn State.