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Carolina Covenant

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Scholar Profile:
Eesim Oon


For Eesim Oon, the opportunity to attend UNC seemed far from assured. But that didn’t stop her from taking the admissions tour and raising her hopes anyway.

“I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford Carolina without scholarships, and I was prepared to go to community college and work and maybe transfer in later. But I still had hope something might work out.”

And something did. It was on her admissions tour that she first heard about the Carolina Covenant and the chance it offers low-income students the chance to attend Carolina debt-free. Her hopes began to seem more like real possibilities.

Born in Malaysia, Eesim first came to the United States with her family when she was seven. The visit was meant to be temporary. “My little sister was going to receive surgery to restore her eyesight at Duke. My parents were so sure we were going back to Malaysia that they home-schooled us.”

When the family remained in Durham nearly ten years later, Eesim entered public school at the beginning of her junior year and began making plans to attend an American college. She considered Duke and N.C. State, but Carolina always topped her list.

Now a freshman, Eesim is finding UNC to be all she hoped and more. “You can find anything here. If you care about it, you can find it here. I’m getting to experience so many new things—volunteerism, activism, the arts.”

Exposure to the arts has been among the best surprises Carolina has offered Eesim. Through the Covenant’s Performing Arts Voucher program, she takes advantage of opportunities she’s never had before.Eesim Oon taking in a Carolina basketball game at the Dean Dome.

“It’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me,” she said. “The performing arts wasn’t something I was exposed to growing up, and now I can experience the ballet, and orchestras, choral music and Yo-Yo Ma. I don’t pass up the chance to go whenever there are Covenant tickets.”

Before she graduates, Eesim hopes to take advantage of other opportunities offered through Carolina and the Covenant, including studying abroad in Spain. In the meantime, she is enjoying her pre-nursing coursework and the friends she’s making. “They’ve made Carolina such a welcoming place.”