Linking Levine - Josh Blackman ‘22

View from my "office" during my virtual pre-professional internship, Summer 2020.
Monday, March 22, 2021

I was sitting in my second Organic Chemistry II class, failing to comprehend anything, when I had an epiphany: I wasn’t happy. I had spent the previous semester tirelessly working to excel in my pre-med courses and, in the process, lost sight of the big picture. I was “going through the motions” and navigating my college experience without a sense of purpose. Having this mid-college crisis, with only a day left of the add/drop period to determine my schedule, I walked quickly back to Levine Hall and knocked on Dr. Z’s door.

This wasn’t the first time the Levine Scholars Program helped me find my way as a student. I also changed my major after my first semester at UNC Charlotte. My departure from the pre-med journey, however, was much more drastic of a change. During our conversation, Dr. Z calmed my worries and urged me to pursue my interests. Since heeding her advice, my life as a college student has transformed. I feel intentional about my decisions, I feel purposeful in my plans, and I find fulfillment in my work.

The Levine Scholars Program is more than a full-ride scholarship. Much more. Weighing options as a high school senior, the Levine Scholars Program was distinguished by its summer experience programming. The scholarship program does not merely invest money in students; the program invests time, energy, and emotion into each scholar. I knew I would not have this system of support elsewhere for my undergraduate studies, which made my decision to join the Levine Scholars Program rather straightforward.

My experiences in the program have exponentially surpassed my expectations. In addition to guidance through tumultuous changes in majors, the Levine Scholars Program has played a significant role in linking me with extracurricular experiences. From NOLS to mentorships to internships, I am supported holistically and individually, and am grateful for all the support that I would not have without the Levine Scholars Program. Prior to March of 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic, I started planning a summer abroad. Unfortunately, spring break turned into a semester at home which turned into another year of online education. Along with these changes, my studying abroad plans did not come to fruition. Scrambling to find plans for the summer, I had nearly given up hope when I received an email from Dr. Z offering me a virtual internship with a Levine alumnus. During this pandemic, we’ve all been forced to adapt to new learning, working, and living environments. Thanks to the Levine Scholars Program, I can make the most of my undergraduate experience regardless of life’s curveballs.

If nothing else, my story shows that you don’t need to have your life figured out when you enter college and serves as a testimony of the unparalleled nature of the Levine Scholars Program in its networking and support systems, investment in students, and adaptability.