Spotlight On: Clare Merlin, two-time OC member from 2006-2008

28 Jan

By Emily Evans

Clare Merlin fell into UNC Dance Marathon almost by chance: She was offered a spot on a committee, the now-defunct “UNC-DM Support Network,” when a few other members did not show up during her first year at UNC. After that, she says, the rest was history.

“After my first Family Hour as a dancer, I was hooked,” she said. “After some time as a sub-chair, I had a revelation that I loved UNC-DM, enjoyed being a leader, was growing more passionate about the organization every day, and therefore wanted to apply for the Overall Committee.”

And apply she did, serving as the 2007 Community Events chair her during junior year and as the inaugural Entertainment chair during her senior year, the year Will Ferrell famously appeared onstage at the marathon. The experience, she said, was life changing, and helped define her years at UNC.

“My experience with the UNC-DM taught me many things, including event planning, working 80 hours a week, and staying awake for 50 hours straight without caffeine,” Merlin said. “Being on the Overall Committee and collaborating with others was a nice contrast to being my own committee chair and leading committee members.”

Merlin continues to give back today. She works as a school counselor, a job she says frequently draws on the teamwork and leadership skills she learned through her involvement with UNC-DM. Merlin also serves on the Atlanta Carolina Club board and is involved with the Junior Service League.

“These organizations are great and my UNC-DM experience certainly is helpful when working with them,” she said, “but I don’t really think any other non-profit or charity will play as prominent a role in my life as UNC-DM did. There simply isn’t much that could top it.”

Though Merlin has “far too many UNC-DM memories to choose just one favorite,” she can certainly pinpoint a few moments that stand out from her experience. Merlin said that some of her favorite life memories, not just UNC-DM memories, came from the 2008 Marathon her senior year: “I felt like my college career (and basketball fandom) culminated when Roy Williams walked through the Fetzer Gym doors and I was able to speak with him,” she said.

“The experience was only topped by Will Ferrell’s visit to the marathon a few hours later. I remember watching Will speak and feeling such pride and camaraderie with my OC peers and sub-chairs that it was all happening.”

Looking back today, Merlin said she is even better able to appreciate her time working with UNC-DM. “It was such a thrill to devote so much of my time and energy to this one organization whose mission I believe so strongly in,” she said.

“But better yet- it was such a fantastic and almost surreal experience to do it all alongside so many other passionate individuals.”

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