UTOP 2016 Magazine

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Table of Contents Staff Bios...............................................................3 Mentors Bios.........................................................6 Students Bios........................................................9 Favorite Tweets and Quotes................................ 18 Favorite Hangouts...............................................20 Superlatives.........................................................22 Fashion................................................................24 Talent Show.........................................................28 Music/Dance........................................................31 Trips.....................................................................33 Work & Play.........................................................42



MAS Staff

Dr. Sam Lopez

Mrs. Jodi Turner

Mr. Shawn Simmons

Ms. Cynthia Gray

Cynthia Gray is the office manager at MAS and enjoys the positive work environment. She noted how Charlotte has grown at a very fast rate, and is a great place for college students to find opportunities. In contrast to the heat, winter is her favorite season, and she’s always glad when students get back on campus in the fall.


Associate Director

Assistant Director

Dr. Sam Lopez’s concept for UTOP involves not being afraid to try new things. “Although we can learn from failure, we can miss opportunities because we are afraid of failure.” Director of Multicultural Services since 2008, Dr. Lopez worked for 13 years in the space shuttle program, and has a doctorate in Physical Therapy.

Working in the MAS office for almost 20 years, Jodi Turner is a graduate of Howard University, a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, and the chair of Charlotte Alumni Cotillion. She is pursuing her Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at NCA&T University, and values education because “there is always something for us to learn.”

Shawn Simmons has worked in the Multicultural Academic Success (MAS) department for UTOP since 2012. Assistant director for MAS, coordinator for Building Better Brothers, and coordinator for UTOP, Simmons insists, “Working with students to help strengthen them academically, and forming leaders on campus and in the community would have to be the best parts of my job.”


Office Manager/ Administrative Support Assistant

MAS Staff

Grayson Collins Yolanda Kennedy

Patrice Wilson

Student Coordinator

Graduate Assistant

Graduate Assistant

UTOP Student Coordinator Grayson Collins graduates in December 2016 (at 19!) with plans for graduate school. Undergraduate major has been English, with a focus in language/digital technology and a minor in technical writing. She recommends the botanical gardens as a great place to take a break from studying, and also to see beautiful plants.

UTOP Graduate Assistant Yolanda Kennedy attended UTOP in 2006 and has been involved ever since. She recently to China and Korea to do research for higher education, and is currently working on her doctorate in education leadership, with a concentration in higher education. She says, “You only live once so enjoy life to the fullest.”

Patrice Wilson is a graduate student in the Latin American program; she doublemajored in her undergraduate studies with degrees in Spanish and Latin American Studies. A first-generation college student, she brings the gifts of understanding, compassionate, empathy, perseverance, and the desire to stop injustices to her community. Favorite song: “Intentional” by Travis Greene


Nakia Wortherly-Foye

Student Coordinator Nakia Wortherly-Foye appreciates that there is a comfortable study space for each kind of learner on campus, and she really enjoys the botanical gardens. She manages a lot of UTOP’s small group activities and primarily recruits and prepares staff manuals/weekend activities. Long-term she’d like to work for the United Nations.


UTOP Mentors

Aaliyah Arrington Merritt Blanks Aaliyah was born in Halifax County, now lives in Wallace, NC, and would like to become a state prosecutor. She has traveled to Cancun, Mexico and her favorite food is steak. Aaliyah was very shy and started entering pageants at the age of 13. She won six, and says pageants helped her become more confident and outgoing.

Tyriq Evans Tyriq Evans participated last year as a mentee and believes that UTOP helps students further their college career by setting them up for success. Majoring in Mathematics, he plans to minor in secondary education. His favorite part about being a UTOP mentor is that he gets to plan and then take part in small group activities.

Merritt Blanks is a sociology major because he loves learning about people and prefers conversation-based classes. He’s a mentor because he didn’t have one when he started college; so far he has been able to build relationships with the mentees and learn from them also. After grad school, he wants to become a dean of students at a university.

Tymel Carson

Azia Dixon

Tymel Carson is a Criminal Justice major, involved in B3, SAFE, Black Student Union, Voluntary Outreach, Campus Activity Board, and on the e-board that “incorporates individuals not by skin but by ideas and thoughts. Becoming a mentor has made me a more genuine person as a whole, and that is what the goal of coming to college should be.”

Azia Dixon was a mentee in 2013 and has been a mentor since 2014, “to give other students the same experience I had.” Majoring in Psychology with and a minor in Criminal Justice, Azia wants to work in Human Resources “to see people grow within companies— that’s my main thing.”

Makeda Harris Thomasina Pearce Makeda Harris, named after the Queen of the Sheba, is known to her friends as “Keda”. A health communications major with a minor in public health, she aspires to manage a hospital. A mission trip to the Bahamas helped her realize the importance of appreciating her life and never taking things for granted.

Thomasina Pierce is from Brooklyn, NY and was a mentee last summer. Her advice? Don’t fall victim to peer pressure. If a relationship stresses you out to the point where your grades are dropping and your happiness is compromised, drop it. Take advantage of the opportunities you are presented with—don’t let them pass you by!


India Pitts An only child, mentor India Pitts appreciates having a very loving extended family who would always get together for her birthday parties. Although she’s a small-town girl who fell in love with a big city, India is proud to call several places home: Macon, Gray, and Milledgeville, Georgia!

UTOP Mentors

Majid Powell

Kendra Shaw

Kris Sherrod

Jakkia Taylor

Majid Powell is a rising junior, Middle Grades Education major who aspires to become a teacher, and ultimately, to work in educational administration as an assistant principal, principal, or even a superintendent. His motto: P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens). This is his second year as a mentor, and he’s also involved in Leadershape.

Kendra Shaw decided to become a UTOP mentor because her mentor was amazing and inspired her to give back to the program. She received a full scholarship to UNCC, as well as study abroad opportunities. So far Kendra has studied in London and also hopes to study in South Africa or Spain. She’s majoring in Biology.

Kris Sherrod is a rising senior from Raleigh, North Carolina. Motivated by his parents, Marsha and James, Kris is a Finance major. No matter what career path he chooses, he will work hard to provide for his family. His involvement includes Black Student Union, Building Better Brothers (B3), Advanced and Innovative Minds, and Collegiate 100.

When two friends who were UTOP mentors invited Jakkia Corae Taylor to apply, she saw it as an opportunity to guide students and be the mentor that she never had. Rae looks forward to mentees reaching out to her during the fall. She’s a senior Psychology major and is interested in becoming a residence coordinator.

Krystal Tillman As a young child Krystal endured many obstacles in her life that might have hindered many people from continuing on to do great things. She learned so much from her mother, and as a mentee, her mentors were always there for her socially, physically, or mentally and when she just wanted to return the love she was shown.



UTOP Students

Taylor Adams Born in Charlotte, Taylor Adams was on her high school’s speech and debate team, cheer team, student council, and leadership council. Taylor is also very active as a youth ministry leader and a junior treasurer. A competitive dancer since age three, Taylor’s most valuable possession is her family--“I appreciate them so much.”

Raphael Bikai Raphael Bikai believes that in life you’ll face different adversities and you must master the art of finesse. Fascinated with the mind, he wants to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Raphael is firstgeneration in a family that immigrated to the U.S., and his main goal is to make not only himself proud, but his family as well.

Briana Anthony Michael Austin Jaylaan Bennett To Briana Anthony, community means connection. In 10 years, she would like to have graduated med-school and be a practicing Pediatric ENT; Charlotte has many internships available which could open the door to new opportunities and lasting connections. She is passionate about helping people. Her motto: “Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, make your absence felt.”

Michael is a Computer Science major from Durham, and a human resource specialist in the National Guard. His role model is Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs, and Michael’s motto is, “It doesn’t matter where you were born in life, it’s up to you to figure out where you take it.”

A’lishia Bowman Anthony Bratcher A’lishia Bowman is from Mooresville. When her father died two years ago, it taught her to find herself and become a stronger person—for herself and for others. She’s majoring in Public Health, while focusing on Health Care Administration. Fave quote: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Anthony Bratcher is from Greensboro; he remembers playing in wheat fields at his grandma’s house when he was a child. His favorite food is sushi, and he has a passion for designing houses. He values his family the most, and he especially misses his dad and his stepmom. So far he’s maintained a good GPA.


Jaylaan Bennet plans to be a nursing major, and also to minor in Spanish. She really likes the UTOP program and feels it helps her set a foundation for study habits. While she is getting a head start on college, she is looking forward to networking, and plans to run for freshman class president.

Gregory Brockington Gregory Brockington Durham is currently in the Marines Reserves for eight years, and will depart for basic training in October. A Psychology major, he wants to become the president of a record label, become a part of the Secret Service, join a SWAT team, or become a State Trooper. Travel goal? Dubai. Dream car? Bugatti.

UTOP Students

Jerrel Bushel Although Jerrel will major in pre-kinesiology to work in athletic training, he also plans to join the basketball pep band and the ultimate frisbee club. Jerrel’s theme song is “Legend” by Drake—it inspires him to be the best he can be, leave an impact on other’s lives, and make the world a better place.

Makala Carrington

Makala Carrington was a high school cheerleader in Fayetteville, held multiple leadership roles, served more than 250 volunteer hours, and obtained 66 college credits before she arrived at UNCC! A Public Health major with a minor in Aerospace Studies, and plans to join the United States Air Force. She enjoys making others laugh.

Krystina Culley Michelle Delucia Krystina Culley’s gift is her ability to listen and connect with others. From Danville, Virginia, she plans a career as a financial analyst or finance attorney. Theme song? Wale’s “Sunshine”— May the optimism of tomorrow, be your foundation for today. Role model? Her mother: There are no such things as failures, but only lessons and successes.

From NJ, Michelle DeLucia’s goal is to provide physical therapy for athletes, and she believes a community is a place we can discover ourselves. Theme song? J. Cole’s “Love Yourz” tells people to love themselves and what they have. Fave quote: “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”


Tyler Congleton

Daniel Costa

Tyler Congleton’s idea of a perfect day is sleeping in and going to the beach, and her role model is her father because he built a business from the ground up. Tyler’s favorite trip was to France and London a few months ago with her mom and sister, and she’d like to learn to speak a foreign language fluently.

Daniel considers growing up in the town of Greensboro a gift, because those around him were very supportive of everyone in the community. Daniel is considering pursuing a major in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance. Thomas Jefferson is his role model: “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

Christian Dickerson

Whitney Grady

Christian Dickerson is from Greensboro and loves video games and dancing, and sees himself working for a major gaming developer as a gaming engineer. Inspired by his mother and appreciative of all that she’s done and sacrificed for him, he brings his gentleman-like qualities and generosity to campus, and wants to put his all into his studies.

Whitney Grady plays violin and piano and looks up to her grandma because she’s very wise. A decade from now, she will be an athletic trainer, live in the suburbs with a husband and kids. Her plans include getting her doctorate in kinesiology.

UTOP Students

Mamebassine Gueye Mame Bassine Gueye hopes to graduate with a double major in Finance and International Business. From Raleigh, Mimi would like to be a stockbroker and is ready to work for all the things she wants. UTOP has definitely met Mimi’s expectations. And does she love being a 49er? “Yesss, of course!”

Tiscia Haigler

Dezmon Hall

Shekinah Hall

Tiscia Haigler is from Dudley, NC and she likes the contrast of going to school in a larger city. In 10 years, Tiscia plans to complete a dermatology residency. Her inspirations are her grandmother, who encourages Tiscia to be helpful, kind to all, and an overall well-rounded person, and Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise.”

Dezmon Hall was born in Miami and at seven, his family moved to Charlotte. He loves horror movies, and his determination to set a goal and accomplish it. Since high school, Dez has been part of YBM Leadership Alliance. He’s preparing to be a computer engineer and hopes to run his uncle’s business.

Shekinah Mikalah Hall’s older sister went through UTOP as well. Mikalah’s major is elementary education, and she wants to be either a second or third grade teacher. She believes that children don’t get the attention that they need, and she wants to give them the foundation required to succeed.

Jala Hayes

Ahmad Hill

Candis Hoskins Jasmine Johnson

A triathlete who plays softball, volleyball, and soccer, Jala Hayes is originally from Selma, Alabama. A prekinesiology major who aspires to open her own physical therapy practice, Jala says right now her focus is on working towards making good grades and making the much-needed personal connections she will need after graduation.

Ahmad Hill comes from a large family in Camden, near Elizabeth City, NC, and first heard about UTOP when he came to the SOAR program. He likes that Charlotte is the second largest finance city in the U.S. with an abundance of internship opportunities. An aspiring Business Finance major with a concentration in accounting.

One of the quieter UTOPers, Candis Hoskins also has a great sense of humor. She believes that her childhood environment living in Greensboro allowed her to become more mature and overcome obstacles. Although she has not yet declared a major, she is currently following a pre-health professions track in hopes of becoming a veterinarian.


Jasmine, a UTOPer from Monroe, North Carolina, has an incredible talent in singing. She has been singing ever since she was a little girl and has performed in many places. Jasmine loves her talent; to her it is life and means everything to her. She aims to be a singer in the future, and she looks up to Rihanna as an inspiration.

UTOP Students

Stephanie Lam Stephanie Lam took AP Studio Art in her senior year in Mooresville and completed a 24-piece art portfolio. She is going to major in Computer Science, and her brother is also at UNCC. In 10 years she wants to have a successful career as a game developer. Theme song? “Keep Your Head Up” by Andy Grammer.

Isaiah Lassiter Shelby Lattimore Erikah Lawson Isaiah Lassiter wants to be a pre criminal justice major, strengthen the image of police as protectors, and show his community that police can be trusted. His life theme is Mahatma Gandhi’s “Be the change that you wish to see in the world,” Isaiah’s role model is his older brother.

Born in Long Island, New York, Shelby Lattimore moved to Raleigh in the third grade. Shelby wants to be an elementary school teacher and open a daycare for children who have visual or hearing impairments, or other physical disabilities. She has two sisters, her Dad is her best friend. she has never eaten an Oreo, and she can tell you a lot about the Mantis Shrimp—her spirit animal.

Erikah Lawson is from Raleigh and believes that everyone should be offered an opportunity similar to UTOP to get used to college life. Erikah feels that she has a second home at UNCC and plans to major in PreKinesiology.

Casey Mack

Neariah MandisaDrummond

Cameron Locust Kaitlyn Luckman Cameron Lanier Locust is from Sanford, NC, is enrolled with a major in Nursing and wants to be a nurse anesthetist, then a department head within a hospital or private practice. Cameron’s role model is his father, who takes care of those in his family and others as well. Song? R Kelly’s “You Saved Me”.

Kaitlyn (Kate) Luckman is a Biology Major on the Pre-Med track and she wants to be through medical school in 10 years. From a small rural county in western NC, she feels at home in Niner Nation. Kate likes to knit, paint, and play piano and marimba. Her parents are her biggest inspirations.

Casey was born in Grass Valley, California, and his family moved to Asheville, NC in 2006. As a junior, he traveled to Germany for a full year through his involvement in Rotary. Besides feeling at home, Casey also came to UNCC because of the amazing business program it has and its central location in Charlotte.


Neariah Mandisa spent most of her childhood in New York City; her mother Ashanti taught her to be a peaceful, positive, and productive LEO! She also likes Queen Bey’s “Always stay gracious…” and is ready to be successful. Neariah has an ardent interest in film, technical theatre, and all things creative.

UTOP Students

Diana Maruri A Charlotte native, Diana Maruri wants to redefine stereotypes of Latina women. She places a high value on education, plans on majoring in Kinesiology and then attending a chiropractic school. Mother Teresa’s “Spread love everywhere you go; let no one ever come to you without leaving happier” fuels her positivity and passion to help others.

Amari McLain From Winston-Salem, Amari’s majoring in Business Management and also plans on receiving her MBA and J.D. She’d also like to start programs to help those who are less fortunate, and travel to a new country every year. Mom Michelle inspires Amari to do her best in everything and to never give up.

Catrisse McDowell Leilani McGhee Jasmine McGregor From Greensboro, Catrisse Caroline McDowell plans to study Exercise Science on a Pre-Kinesiology track to become a Physical Therapist. She graduated Summa Cum Laude, a member of Western Guilford High School’s first Advanced Placement Capstone Academy class. Catrisse brings her personal gift of spreading positivity through singing.

Leilani McGhee is from a close-knit family that includes her sister and both parents in Fayetteville. She’s majoring in Psychology, her favorite color is red and favorite artists include Future, 2NE1 and celebrity Zendaya. One day she’d like to own her own business, have a family and at least two dogs.

Jarren Mebane Sarah Melendez Jarren Mebane grew up in Burlington, NC, and chose UNC Charlotte because of its Engineering program. Joining UTOP brought him into a community with other freshman that had similar mindsets of getting ahead and prospering. The best advice Jarren has received about college is, “You are your resume,” meaning that networking is everything.

Sarah Melendez is a prenursing major and wants to be a flight nurse at a Charlotte hospital when she graduates. Her father makes her favorite food— Puerto Rican rice and beans. “He hates for the rice to stick, so he takes three hours to make the dish. If he doesn’t make it, it doesn’t taste the same.”


Jasmine McGregor will major in Psychology and then pursue graduate school to help people with mental illnesses. She strongly believes in what Macklemore quoted: “Don’t try to change the world, find something that you love, do it every day, and do that for the rest of your life. And eventually, the world will change.”

Wesley Moore Wesley Moore lives by Dr. Seuss’ lines: “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive that is you-er than you!” His strongest support is from caring parents Wesley and Sherri, and loving sister, Kaela, in Winston-Salem. He’d like to complete medical school and help others as a healthcare professional.

UTOP Students

Aishah Omotosho

Allyson Panell

Aishah Omotosho grew up in Alexandria, VA and moved to North Carolina at the start of high school. Aishah plans to major in Social Work in college, and then to get her Master’s degree. UTOP kept her busy, and she expects that Fall semester will be even busier.

Allyson Pannell lives by the motto “YOLO” because life is all about experiencing new things without regrets, including participating in UTOP! From King, NC, near Winston-Salem, she hopes to become a pharmacist. Favorite things so far at UNC Charlotte include student dorms, meeting new people, and getting involved in the campus community.

Juwan Reddick

Jeffrey Rondo

Inspired by his brother, Juwan Reddick aims to be in the music industry ghostwriting, producing, or performing. His father inspired introspective, deep, and free thinking through his lectures, stories, and perspectives. Juwan brings an open mind, a caring, compassionate heart, and a willingness to help others to his UNCC community.

Jeffrey Rondo is a Charlotte native, and he decided to join a summer academic program to get a strong start on his college career. He’s also very excited about the social aspect of college, including football. He played basketball in high school, and is interested in becoming an athletic trainer for a pro sports team.

Stacey Perez Morales Stacey Perez Morales is a Chemistry major aspiring to become an obstetrician and gynecologist who would like to practice in Florida. She moved from Puerto Rico to the Raleigh area when she was four. To her new UNCC community, Stacey brings the ability to motivate others and a stress free environment to those around her.

Jehanne Pilgrim Jehanne Pilgrim chose UNC Charlotte because of its incredible nursing program and internship opportunities. The diversity on campus allows her to meet people of different backgrounds, and she really loves the botanical gardens. After graduation, she wants to travel for a year as a nurse, and her longterm goal is to work for the United Nations.

Joshua Shepherd Nylah Singleton Joshua Shepherd has always wanted to be a superhero, because they saved even strangers’ lives. Just like Josh, they protect their communities without question and know that it is their sole purpose on Earth. With a Biology degree in hand, Josh plans to go to medical school to become a top physician in the military.


From Greenville, NC, Nylah Singleton also attended Pit Community College and earned 6 college credits. In her free time, Nylah likes to shop and cook. Nylah decided to attend UTOP because she wanted to have a 4.0 GPA, make new friends and connections, and familiarize herself with the campus.

UTOP Students

Deja Stover

Aubrey Surgers Nicole Sutherland

Briana Sutton

Deja Stover’s family includes an active duty service member, so she’s used to joining new communities frequently. Consequently, she is more than excited to join the UNC Charlotte community, UNCC’s black community, as well as her community of Psychology majors! She’d like to go straight to medical school and help others through a private practice.

Aj Surgers defines community as the total cooperation of individuals in a given place, and friendliness-both qualities he learned from a very loving home and community. He wants to pursue UNCC’s business school to prepare for a career in sports management. Aj’s biggest role model is Jesse Owens, who prevailed in spite of so much adversity.

Nicole Sutherland describes herself as “nice, caring for others, and outgoing.” Favorite activities include singing, volleyball, basketball and reading. She wants to get to know not only students, but also faculty. Nicole aspires to first graduate from UNC Charlotte, and eventually attend law school.

From Rolesville, NC, Briana Sutton is the youngest of five, and her sister is a UNCC alum. As someone who loves to help others and is interested in the medical field, becoming a Nurse Practitioner seems to fit. She appreciates her parents as role models who have sacrificed to create a good life for her family.

Tammy Tang

Sarah Tillet

David Tyler

Brittany Walker

Tammy Tang’s family has a restaurant in Mooresville and her role model is her father. One day she wants to study abroad, and also visit Asia to meet the rest of her family members. An Accounting major, her favorite quote is, “To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.”

Sarah Tillett says, “MAS is very proactive getting the word out about UTOP, and I was drawn into learning more. Mentor Aaliyah encouraged me to do it because she told me I would not regret it.” Sarah knows now that Aaliyah was right, and appreciates all the experiences that UTOP has offered her.

David Tyler is a native of Virginia and a graduate of UNCG’s Middle College. Greensboro’s News & Record hired him, and he is pursuing a degree in communications to work on TV. A quote he lives by is “I’m not an artist, I am art,” meaning that how he lives life should be considered art itself.

Brittany Walker is from Elon, a first generation college student in her family, and her mother’s dedication and hard work make her Brittany’s role model. Because she has learned to not take anything for granted, she likes Rihanna’s “Nothing is Promised.” She’d like to major in Nursing or Psychology and become a pediatrician.


UTOP Students

Marcus Washington

Jimaune Williams

Chrishon Wright

Marcus Washington says, “Before I got to UNCC I was afraid I’d have no clue how to get to my classes and that college was going to be the hardest experience in my life. UTOP is an excellent educational program that has helped me get a head start on my college experience with a 4.0 GPA.

Jimaune Williams has a lot of favorites--artist Big Sean, the Good Music label, LeVeon Bell and the Pittsburg Steelers, and Ole Miss. The UNC Charlotte campus and the city of Charlotte have also become faves, along with his major in pre-dentistry. He adds another: “UTOP has been the best decision I’ve made.”

An engineering major from Eden, NC, Chrishon Wright played sports in high school and was in various clubs and honors organizations. Chrishon’s parents really pushed him to come to UTOP and now he’s glad because he’s met so many amazing people. Favorite artist? Kanye West. Favorite little brother? Christian: 13.


Favorite Quotes and Tweets

Favorite Tweets and Quotes

EC: Going into Fall semester with a good GPA #UTOP16 was good to me


Thomasina Pearce: #uncc20 #utop16 don't be afraid to come out of your comfort zone! All Bestfriends were once strangers

Grayson Collins: Late nights but lots of fun. I have also enjoyed getting to know people and making new friends.


Michelle DeLucia: It's such a privilege to be a part of #utop16, couldn't be happier

Favorite Hangouts

Favorite Hangouts Most Fun Rooms to Hang Out In

• Room 514 – Kate, Sasha, Erikah, Nylah, Jerrel, Dez, Jimaune, Jarren, Anthony • Room 535 – Stacey, Whitney, Candis, Brittany, Michael, Isaiah, Neariah, MiMi, Bre • Room 536 – Rondo, Christian, Josh, AJ, Makala, Taylor, Raphael

Places UTOP ’16 WILL NOT Hang Out

• Study Hall • The 550 Lounge • Atkins Library

Who does UTOP ’16 like to hang out with?

• Because everyone’s name was mentioned at least once, along with the vote of “everyone”, UTOP ’16 enjoys hanging out all-together.



Superlatives Most Dramatic

Most Outspoken








Biggest Flirt Jasmine Anthony

Best Sense of Humor MostAccident Prone Tiscia

Taylor Cameron

Jeffrey Biggest Night Owl





Jeffrey Most Inseperable

Best Personality Ally

Makayla & Jayla Jarren & Anthony


Quietest Stephanie Ahmad

Best Advice Giver

Future Mentor

Best Smile









Niner Fashion






Talent Show

Talent Show


Talent Show






Exit Strategy On a bright Friday afternoon, UTOP students took a fun trip to Exit Strategy. Exit Strategy is an activity center that features a variety of themed rooms including Quest of Honor, Bank Heist, Cabin in the Woods, and The Final Sacrifice. The objective of the game is different in each room, yet the premise is the same: Participants have to come up with a plan to escape with limited time, as each team has only 60 minutes to complete the room.

UTOP Mentor Kendra with UTOP participant Whitney as they wait for the bus and vans to take UTOP 16 to Exit Strategy

After you choose your game, an employee escorts you into the corresponding room and gives a few instructions. UTOP Mentors showing UTOP pride! It was during this time that we learned that we had unlimited hints, and we received other essential details as well. Inside the room, there are clues hidden within seemingly normal objects in the room that we had to find to excel at the game.

This experience was a great chance to get to know the diverse group of people involved in the UTOP program. The activity was a great way for UTOP participants and mentors to build their collaboration skills in an unfamiliar setting. The teams were picked at random for this activity, so existing groups of friends weren’t on the same team. Though a bit uncomfortable, this forced UTOP students to meet new people and network with one another, ultimately creating new friendships as teams left the rooms. Though some teams were not successful with their mission, the game brought everyone together to achieve a common goal.

A successful UTOP team with its prize: The diamond from Queen City Bank Heist!


Exit Strategy resulted in a win for everyone—despite the figures shown on the 60-minute timer!

Lazy 5 Ranch On Saturday, July 9, the students participating in UTOP took a trip to the Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville, North Carolina. The Lazy 5 Ranch is owned and operated by Henry Hampton, who has been raising and handling exotic animals for over 35 years. On May 22, 1993, his dream came true when the Lazy 5 Ranch came to life. The ranch is named after the owner’s family, as he described, “consisted of five lazy people.” The ranch is now home to more than 750 animals from six continents. Visitors can watch the animals from either the comfort of their cars or from horse-drawn wagons. The safari-style trail is 3.5 miles long. UTOP students piled onto three wagons that included buckets of animal feed. Ranch staff talked to us about each of the animals we saw that ranged from tiny baby pigs to giraffes. They explained where the animals were from and how they acted with each other. When we fed the animals from the buckets, it felt really weird when they licked our hands. At the end of the trail, we got off the wagons and went to the petting zoo where we walked through to see different animals. Cage-free peacocks roamed all over the ranch trails. Our trip to the Lazy 5 Ranch was interesting, although some people didn’t like the animals. Overall, the trip was a good bonding experience for our group. 35



Levine Museum


Movie On June 6, 2016, UTOP participants went to see London has Fallen, a movie directed by Babak Najafi. The film focuses on a terrorist attack in London that takes place at the funeral for the British Prime Minister. It follows Mike Banning, a secret service agent that works very closely with the U.S. President, as Mike tries to do his job and save the President from a televised assassination. Before the movie began we all waited patiently outside the Student Union movie theater. Once everybody walked into the theater, they immediately started fighting for the best seats along the middle row. Once everyone was seated, the movie began, but no one expected the force of the blasting speakers. We felt like we were part of the warfare that took place on the screen, and that enhanced the experience. Attending this movie was unlike any regular theater visit. People cracked jokes, laughed, and made loud comments, and this continued throughout. However, there was not a dry eye in the room when Lynne died after the tragic helicopter accident. The whole theater was at the edge of its seats throughout, but it seemed super unrealistic and corny since the movie followed a very predictable plot line. Overall, the event was a lot of fun and much better than most people expected.

Charlotte Knights Game





Work & Play

Class Time

Down Time


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