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Giovanni Biggers ’22 (MA ’24) said he hopes to use the skills and knowledge gleaned as part of the inaugural cohort of students in the Master of Applied Professional Studies (MAPS) program to work in — or create — an organization to help underprivileged kids find avenues to higher education. A person sits by the Old Well

“Going to public school in Baltimore, there was a serious lack of resources, the schools were worn down, and as a student, you just didn’t feel like you had any access to higher education or career opportunities,” Biggers said.   

A native of the DMV — D.C., Maryland, Virginia — area, Biggers came to UNC-Chapel Hill by way of hard work in the classroom and on the football field. He continued excelling in both areas, graduating in December ’22 with a degree in management and society. 

He will receive his master’s degree at the University’s commencement ceremony on May 11, after completing the MAPS program, which he said met his specific post-graduate needs. 

Prior to completing his undergraduate degree, Biggers was unsure about his path to graduate school. He wanted to stay at UNC-Chapel Hill, but he thought that no graduate program matched his aspirations precisely — until he heard about the MAPS program.   

Launched in 2023, MAPS is a flexible interdisciplinary graduate program for students who find value in a customized graduate degree. At the program’s core are a series of courses in leadership and business fundamentals designed to provide students with essential professional skills. Students pick their own concentration and design a program of study to meet their career needs and interests. 

Biggers realized that the MAPS program would allow him to take classes in business and in public policy, fulfilling his goals and interests. 

The MAPS program also allows students the scheduling flexibility, and students can attend part- or full-time, completing their degrees in as little as 18 months. This part of the program also appealed to Biggers, as it has for other MAPS students involved in athletics or other time-consuming endeavors. 

“The MAPS classes were challenging but rewarding, and I was able to learn things that were applicable to what I want to do,” Biggers said. “I built my course of studies on business and public policy classes, where I could learn what I wanted to learn and also build leadership skills.” 

Biggers is an example of one type of student that the MAPS program was created for, said MAPS Director Laura Kuizin, Ed.D.   

“Throughout his time working on his master’s degree, Giovanni has consistently demonstrated a commitment to his education and a genuine passion for learning,” Kuizin said.    

“Giovanni made the most out of his time in the MAPS program, utilizing the flexibility of the program to design a curriculum unique to his professional goals. As he prepares to graduate and begin the next phase of his journey, I have no doubt that Giovanni will continue to make a positive impact and I look forward to celebrating his future successes.” 

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