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Roughly 130 middle school students on Wednesday took part in Tar Heel Preview Day, an initiative by UNC Diversity and Multicultural Affairs (DMA) meant to introduce minority male students to college life, inspire their desire to attend college and give them the necessary information to plan for life after high school.

The Carolina Millennial Scholars Program hosted the day of activities, and CMSP scholars and other DMA volunteers led a group of participants and served as mentors.

Activities across campus included a photo scavenger hunt with School of Journalism and Mass Communication professor Jock Lauterer, a music recording session in Mark Katz’s Beat Making Lab and taking vital signs with members of the School of Nursing. Middle schoolers also created samples of their own DNA with School of Medicine students from the Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD).

“It was exciting to me,” said Faruq Cisse, who attends Wake Young Men’s Leadership Academy, “and amazing to see our DNA.”

“This group is one of the best groups I have ever had,” said Edhriz Siraliev-Perez, an IMSD Fellow and Ph.D. candidate in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program who led students in one of the lab sessions. “Most of the students were very attentive, engaged, and what I like the most — they asked lots of questions.”

After the hands-on academic sessions, participants met Ramses at the Blue Zone, ate lunch, participated in a question and answer session with current students and a representative from the Undergraduate Admissions office and watched several Carolina student groups perform

James Carter, a coach in the Githens Middle School Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) program, said at least 90 percent of his students who participated would be first generation college students.

“What was important,” he said, “was that they were exposed to the connection between middle school and being a professional.”

The Beat Making Lab session he attended with his students, he said, bridged the importance of mathematics, technology, time management and the skills necessary for professional success.

“There is something about looking into the eyes of someone younger than you and realizing that you are making a difference in their lives,” said UNC junior Jay Peterkin, an intern with the DMA student administrative team. “I wanted to inspire as many of them as I could to pursue a higher education and Tar Heel Preview Day gave me that chance.”

Co-sponsors of the event included the Carolina Parents Council Grant Program and UNC Athletics. Campus partners included Academic Advising, the Institute of Arts and Humanities Beats Lab Project, the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, the School of Medicine IMSD program, the School of Nursing, UNC’s Visitors Center and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

For more information about Tar Heel Preview Day, visit and to learn about other diversity initiatives at UNC, visit

Story by Miki Kersgard, Office of Diversity of Multicultural Affairs

Photo by Dan Sears, Communications and Public Affairs

Published October 30, 2014