Computer Scientist and Community Builder

Charlie Helms at Kenan-Flagler.

Photo by Hanna Wondmagegn

Charlie Helms ’21 packed so many valuable experiences into his time at Carolina that he was able to graduate a semester early and is now prepared to start his career at Microsoft. 

“I feel like in the past three years, I’ve done so much that I feel like I’ve gotten everything out of Carolina that I possibly could have,” said Helms. “From research, doing internships, to having really amazing friendships, to traveling abroad.”

Being a Chancellor’s Science Scholar and having participated in the program’s Summer EXCELerator prior to starting college classes, Helms immediately knew he wanted to study within the computer science department. Once he began his first computer science classes, though, he began to feel like an outsider.

“Going into Carolina, I just felt so behind my peers because a lot of people had computer science classes at their high school, or their family members were in the computer science field,” Helms said. “I didn’t feel like I was able to compete with people. I just felt like there wasn’t a place for me. I had never even met a Black computer scientist.”

Fellow computer science major Olivia McPaul resonated with this sentiment, as well, and the two launched Black in Technology, a student organization dedicated to increasing Black and minority representation in computer science — both on campus and industry-wide.

Read the complete Carolina Story to learn more about the work Black in Technology does for Carolina students…

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