Visit, Live it, Never Forget It - Sarah Wood '21

Photo of Sarah Wood at a 49er Football Game
Wednesday, February 5, 2020

A few people shouted and I quickly understood why; outside of Hunt Hall in South Village, construction debris and umbrellas from the picnic tables were flying around the courtyard during the summer’s worst downpour. We were stuck in the lobby for nearly 30 minutes, watching as our beloved campus became enveloped in a seemingly endless sheet of rain.  For about 50 prospective students, this was their first impression of UNC Charlotte. For me, a tour guide, it was my worst nightmare. Fortunately, my tour guests reminded me that afternoon, despite the stormy circumstances, why I love being a Niner Guide. The guests spent the remainder of our time together asking me questions about campus, encouraging me through my panic, and getting to know each other. By the time the rain let up, students were discussing which residence halls they hoped to live in and parents were shaking my hand, thanking me for providing such an informative visit.

I’ve had the absolute pleasure of showing off UNC Charlotte as a Niner Guide for almost three years. I’ve worked part-time for Undergraduate Admissions for two years and enjoyed summer employment on campus each summer. From the very beginning of my path to college, I have known UNC Charlotte was the place for me, my home. I went on my first campus tour as a junior in high school, returned for Open House the following year, interviewed for the Levine Scholarship in February, and submitted my intent to enroll as soon as I got back to Raleigh that weekend. At that point, UNC Charlotte already felt like home and I am thrilled to say I’ve been proven right every day since! Now I devote a sizeable chunk of my time to sharing my story with high school students and helping them find a similar path to UNC Charlotte. Some of my favorite moments of the last few years come from surprising encounters with those students.

About a year ago, I gave a tour to four students from my high school. At the time, they were very forthcoming that UNC Charlotte was not at the top of their list despite their shared interest in engineering. In the fall, they all started their first semester as Forty-Niners.

Last spring, I traveled to Raleigh to participate in a reception for newly admitted students. As our guests were leaving, one student stopped to ask me some follow-up questions about my responses on our student panel. The following Friday, he recognized me at Admitted Students Day, an event we host on campus every spring. In the fall, we unintentionally sat together on the bus on the way to his first class at UNC Charlotte.

While giving a campus tour in January, I brought my guests to our housing partners in South Village. I introduced myself to one of the new housing ambassadors before she gave her very first housing tour. She shook my hand and said that I was her tour guide on her first visit to campus. Now, she’s also a campus ambassador! Later that same week, I interviewed someone who was applying to be a tour guide. He said I was his tour guide and he even remembered my major. Now, he’s training to give his own campus tours and will have the same impact on others in the coming years.

In the grand scheme of our enrollment, these are just a few students, but in my heart, they are everything. These tiny encounters serve as constant reminders that sharing my story and endless love for UNC Charlotte leads others to do the same. Four of our freshmen Levine Scholars became Niner Guides this year and I hope many more will follow. I’ve always believed the best way for me to give back to our campus community is to guide others to enter it and continue the cycle for the next class of Forty-Niners. The college process always starts with a visit. Then, you get to live it and you’ll never forget it.