Seniors Tell All: Amber Koonce

Amber Koonce

As the spring semester draws to a close, seniors will once again don their blue commencement gowns and head off to new adventures. We asked five College majors to dish on their most memorable classes, favorite campus spots, dream jobs and what they’ll miss most about Carolina. Read more senior profiles: Lindsey Jefferies, Timothy Palpant, Gabriel Whaley and Elizabeth McCain.

Morehead-Cain Scholar Amber Koonce, an entrepreneur and social advocate celebrated as one of Glamour magazine’s 2011 “Top 10 College Women,” founded BeautyGap, a nonprofit that collects and ships dolls of color to children of color around the world. The idea was sparked after spending a summer in Ghana and noticing children had only white dolls. A Phi Beta Kappa and Order of the Golden Fleece inductee, she’s advocated for incarcerated and at-risk youth in Ghana, Scotland and Durham, N.C. She received a 2012 Luce Scholarship, a competitive national award, for study in Asia. Down the road, Koonce plans to put her formidable passion to work as a juvenile defense attorney.

Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.

Major: Public Policy Analysis

Minor: Entrepreneurship

Most memorable class at UNC: This is hard to choose. One would be my communication studies class with Dr. Della Pollock, where we engaged in a student-community collaboration to preserve the history and community space of a historically African-American neighborhood. And Dr. Waithera Karim Sesay’s (a visiting professor in African and Afro-American studies) “Introduction to Africa” course gave me a deeper understanding of beauty concepts within the African continent and inspired the creation of my nonprofit.

Favorite campus spot:  It would have to be the Pit because it’s always so lively. I love the Pit because no matter what day or time it is, there’s always something going on. It’s just a great place to learn about campus groups or to engage in a discussion or a debate or to see friends in passing.

Dream job: To serve as a legal advocate for incarcerated youth. Working with young people has really embedded in me this commitment to making sure that I do my part to represent children who get in trouble.

What I will miss most about Carolina: Living within a community of intellectuals that fuels my passions and gives me the opportunity to dream big. Through my entrepreneurship minor, I won the JNO Award in Entrepreneurial Studies from the College of Arts and Sciences, a grant to support my nonprofit, before BeautyGap had received any other type of recognition. Having a school that is willing to support you at the very beginning of an idea and to help it flourish — I’ll really miss that!

[ By Pamela Babcock, spring ’12 Carolina Arts & Sciences magazine. Photo by Mary Lide Parker ’10 ]