Carolina Works

Growing up, Danny Peralta ’20 spent a lot of time working on projects with his father. “If you know how to work with your hands, you’ll never be short of money – that’s what my dad always said,” Danny recalled. “One day, I want to be able to teach my own kids to work around the house, how to be creative and build things.”

When a work-study job opened up at UNC’s BeAM Makerspace, Danny jumped at the opportunity. In between classes and studying, he spends time each week helping his fellow students learn how to use laser cutters, computerized design programs and basic woodshop tools to bring their ideas to life.

“This seemed like a great way to get more skills, have a place to practice and actually get paid to do it!” he said. “I’ve picked up a lot of design skills working here.”

Thanks to work-study students such as Danny, UNC’s makerspaces offer hands-on design experience to any student who wants to learn. Trained work-study students host workshops, group classes, and guided studio time where students have access to state-of-the-art equipment and software.

Private gifts have allowed Carolina to expand employment opportunities on the campus to both low- and middle-income students through the Carolina Works program. Currently hundreds of students are turned away from federal work-study opportunities each year due to a lack of funds; Carolina Works will help our students help themselves.

Danny recently spent weeks figuring out how to make a custom domino set for his family – they’re all competitive players, he said – and went through a lot of trial and error. “It was a lot of messing up, having to do it again, trying something different. That’s how you learn.”

Having an on-campus job has also been good for his routine, he said. “It’s not just about the money. Having a work-study job makes me use my time better. I have to manage my schedule, plan ahead. There’s no wasted time.”

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