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Francis and Patti Meyer

Francis and Patti Meyer understand first-hand the graduate student’s struggle to fund higher education. They each worked while earning their degrees, sometimes having to find creative sources of income. In fact, the two met working a very odd job to finance their education.

Hear the story of how they met while participating in a medical study in this short video.

The Meyers believe graduate students benefit from being able to focus completely on their research – not on financial burdens. That’s why they made possible a Summer Research Fellowship for deserving graduate students in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Burnet Tucker

Burnet Tucker is a Carolina alumna and Learning and Leadership Development Executive for Bank of America. Tucker made her first gift, which created a Summer Research Fellowship in 2014, because she felt it was an opportunity to directly impact a student and her area of research.

Hear about Tucker’s connection to the student she funded in this short video.

Becoming a donor was not only a way for Tucker to connect to the future of graduate students, but also to her own family’s Carolina roots. Tucker named the fellowship after her mother-in-law, a 1950 graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill.

Burnet Tucker named the fellowship she funded to honor her mother-in-law, Lenoir Tucker (left). Olga Belskaya was the student who received Tucker’s summer support.
Burnet Tucker (center) named the fellowship she funded to honor her mother-in-law, Lenoir Tucker (left). Olga Belskaya (right) was the student who received Tucker’s summer support.

Debu Chatterjee

Debu Chatterjee is a UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus and founder and CEO of DxContinuum, a start-up company based in California.

Chatterjee immigrated to Chapel Hill from India to pursue his master’s degree in computer science. He said he gives to The Graduate School because he wants to give back to the place where he formed his roots as an American and where he received the education that would launch his career.

In addition, Chatterjee sees the Summer Research Fellowship as a way to double his impact. The Graduate School matches an individual contribution of $2,000, which means the student receives $4,000 for the summer. That funding, Chatterjee said, allows a student to graduate more quickly and enter the job market sooner than he or she would without Summer Research Fellowship support.

Hear Chatterjee’s perspective on the value of graduate education in this short video.

Suzanne Buchta

Suzanne Buchta remembers enjoying her work as a teaching assistant during the summers as a graduate student at Carolina. But at the same time, Buchta said having a job can be a distraction while trying to finish a graduate degree. That’s why she said the Summer Research Fellowship is an important source of income for graduate students.

“If you’re really passionate about your research, and you want to spend 24-7 on it, and then you have to teach a class, prepare your lectures, grade exams, etcetera – that will detract from the time you can spend on your research.”

Suzanne Buchta
Suzanne Buchta

After graduating, Buchta went on to become Managing Director of Debt Capital Markets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In 2014, she co-authored a white paper that set the market standard for transparency in the sale of green bonds, or bonds issued by companies for investment in environmental projects.

Buchta said one reason she gives to The Graduate School is because she feels she owes something to the place that helped her launch her success.

“I was just very thankful to have the opportunity to complete a graduate degree, and I think having that graduate degree helped me land my job,” Buchta said. “And the income I’m able to earn from that is in part due to my time here at Carolina.”

Buchta also said she believes her gift – which includes a Summer Research Fellowship she created in 2013 – is helping to add value to the economy and fund Carolina students who are starting businesses and actively seeking solutions for major global issues.

“We are facing a lot of not just national problems, but global problems,” Buchta said. “And if we are going to tackle those, it’s going to be the graduate students who come up with the ideas about how to do it.”

♦ Stories and videos by Jess Clark and Andrea Patiño Contreras, master’s degree candidates in the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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