Small-Town Reared, International Bound

Elarnta Darden ’19 spent her whole life in the small town of Gaston, North Carolina.

It wasn’t until Project Uplift enabled her to step on the Carolina campus that she realized she wanted to be part of the Carolina family.  

“It was diverse and felt I could fit in, but still feel like I was being pushed out of my comfort zone” she said.

Like many students who come to Carolina, Elarnta came into college knowing she wanted to study abroad. And she knew she wanted major, nursing to be a big part of that experience. But she didn’t know how she was going to get there. As a first-generation college student from a rural town, her family wasn’t financially able to fund a trip abroad. It wasn’t until one of her Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority sisters introduced her to the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History’s Undergraduate International Studies Fellowship program that she realized she had options.

“[The program] gave me the opportunity to go to Australia. While we were there, I was able to see how nursing programs internationally operated. I went on clinicals and shadowed nurses and saw how they interacted with the patients, witnessed interprofessional communication within the medical field which is needed in patient care,” Elarnta said.  

While nursing school keeps her busy, her involvement with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated — the first black greek sorority on campus — encourages her to further help women and students on campus by hosting events which provide information on things like travel, scholarships or community-centered events.

Her best piece of advice for other Carolina students who are in the same situation she was in? Even if you’re from a small town, even if you’re a minority, even if your parents don’t have the financial means to help you, you can still apply to programs and put yourself out there which can help you get to where you want to be.

Elarnta Darden was able to study abroad because of the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History’s Undergraduate International Studies Fellowship.

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