Accomplished and Proud

Portrait of Olivia SantangeloWhile in high school, Olivia Santangelo ‘22 entertained the thought of attending a four-year university but wasn’t sure if that was a path she would have the opportunity to pursue. Today, she is currently on track to graduate from Carolina this December with a biology degree and a minor in neuroscience.

Growing up, Santangelo faced personal hardships that made it challenging to participate in meaningful pursuits inside and outside the classroom. “Knowing that I was not the most well-rounded college applicant, I tentatively strung an application together on my own and only applied to one university on a whim — Carolina. While I did not get in, I ended up being waitlisted.”

Santangelo did not let that discourage her from her bigger goals and dreams. “This did not leave me feeling rejected but rather profoundly encouraged as I knew that with time, I was capable of producing a higher quality academic and professional performance,” she said. Santangelo decided to continue pursuing higher education and attended a local community college. She earned her associate’s degree in 2019 and reapplied to Carolina the following year when she was accepted.

Santangelo reflected on how The Carolina Fund Scholarship helped her achieve her goal of attending a four-year university. The Carolina Fund provides the University with flexible funding to meet critical campus needs and seize emerging opportunities that will enrich student experiences, faculty research, and scholarship. Santangelo shared, “Without the generous financial support from Carolina, I would have been hesitant to jump into an undergraduate program at a four-year university when I did. This scholarship has assisted me in being set to graduate on time with distinction, as I was able to focus on my academics without the overburdening stressors that financial hardship can cause.”

“Transferring to a new school amid a global pandemic has presented some unique challenges,” she continued “However, there was one moment on a fall afternoon when I stepped into an empty Kenan Stadium and looked out onto the field where the sky appeared as if it were painted a beautiful Carolina blue. I remember taking in the vastness of it all and feeling especially accomplished and proud to have been accepted into this university at that moment.”

As Santangelo prepares for her final exams in a course that will complete her degree requirements, she looks forward to post-graduation life, where she plans on taking additional pre-requisite courses in preparation for further education in laboratory medicine.

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