“It takes a village . . .” - Christian Chavis '20

Image of Christian Chavis
Tuesday, April 7, 2020

My goals have always been large ones as far as I can remember. I remember a day as a child where during my middle school award ceremony I told my mother that I couldn’t wait for her to see me graduate with my Ph.D., and now’s the time I get to put that dream in motion. Coming from a small underprivileged town in Robeson County NC, I always wanted to excel in academia and take that knowledge to pursue a higher purpose- to enjoy a successful career in technology and be able to give back to a community that has given me so much. However, to accomplish these large dreams would take a lot of hard work and also a lot of support. The phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” really speaks to my heart as that’s exactly what has gotten me to where I am today.

The Levine Scholars Program is more than a program to me. It’s a family. A family that has become more and more ingrained as part of me as I continued throughout my four-year journey at UNC Charlotte. The experiences given to me by the LSP have been tremendous to my success as a student, as well as soon-to-be graduate, and today I wanted to highlight how my professional life has been supported, nurtured, and encouraged since freshman year.

Coming into UNC Charlotte, I was a Computer Engineer major, curious-minded about the world of computing and attempting to figure out what my place in it would be. To make a very long story short, I was not in the Engineering field and by the end of my freshman year, I found myself becoming a Computer Science major who was hungry to try to adjust to my newly chosen field as I felt a bit behind compared to my peers. I obtained an internship as a Software Engineer at a start-up company specializing in healthcare analytics technology and I was honestly flabbergasted to have this opportunity as a freshman. My early conversations with Dr. Z were so encouraging and through her mentorship and support, I had gained confidence in myself that even with my lack of experience in programming, I could contribute something valuable during my internship Freshman summer. LSP was completely supportive from how I would travel to my internship every day, to when I should eat/get groceries. It was always more than just funding and supporting my education to Levine. It was helping me grow and adapt to the world. I would constantly go to Dr. Z and the rest of the staff during my summer for advice and what my next moves should be, as I was very worried that I couldn’t adapt to the environment, but I was supported through thick and thin through my scholarship office at every turn. When I completed the internship with the start-up company, I felt a need to keep chasing other opportunities that were given to me. One of those opportunities was Bank of America’s Applied Technology Program. I was supported throughout my entire process- from the application process to the interviews. Through a wealth of advice such as how to complete an interview, how to dress to impress, and how to enter negotiations, since Freshman year, I knew that the Levine Scholars Program and staff had provided me with the tools to be successful beyond the classroom. My interview for the Bank of America’s Technology Program went better than I could have ever imagined (all of the practice and help from the LSP staff I felt like really paid off) and I was informed that I was accepted to the program! I was accepted into a year contract internship with Bank of America as well as a full-time summer with the bank that was also supported by LSP. Soon after that, I was offered a full-time position as an Info Security Engineer starting July post-graduation! From a confused and stressed freshman engineering student, to now being a soon-to-be full-time employee and Masters’ student (starting in the Fall here at UNC Charlotte), it took a village. and I couldn’t have asked for a better one than the LSP office.

With the world growing more and more dependent on technology, the need for security increases. So much valuable and personal information is at risk and I want to protect and ensure people can use these amazing, new innovations in technology without worrying about breaches in security. It is a perfect fit for two of my passions, technology and helping people. I have seen this first-hand during my time at Bank of America as a Data Security Intern. I have been able to learn so much about information and data security and I’ve already had the experience of ensuring the safety and compliance of client’s and associate’s data. This has been an amazing experience that was fully supported by LSP and has fueled me to learn more about the cybersecurity industry and has given me the confidence to pursue my dreams no matter what roadblocks lay ahead.