2012 UNC graduate Alana Wilson of Morganton, N.C. has taken on several challenges in her young life. She lost her father to metastatic prostate cancer two weeks before entering UNC as a junior transfer in 2010. “I had the option of not coming, but if I hadn’t I would be a totally different person. My father serves as part of my inspiration today, and I am so grateful to him for encouraging me to pursue my education no matter what the obstacle.”
Alana took on the Senior Class Challenge to donate to UNC. “I liked that you could donate where you wanted to and that the gift would be matched, so I gave to UNC Lineberger’s prostate and kidney cancer research. My hope is that this small donation will touch another life and allow a daughter to spend just a little more time with her dad.”
Alana’s father, Robey Alan Wilson, was the minister at Denton’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Morganton for 16 years. “My dad had just earned his master’s degree in 2006. He loved learning, and he loved helping people. I was almost 17 when he was diagnosed. He had surgery, and we thought the cancer was gone, but it came back in the bones and was more aggressive. His death impacted my life as a college student because I’m more conscious of life and why it needs to be well-lived. I’m also more aware of the importance of family and friends and of telling people ‘I love you.’ There are things in your life that make you mature, and my dad’s death was a catalyst for that. It has made me more aware of illness and of the importance of cancer screening. ”
Alana graduated with a major in history and a minor in Hispanic studies. Her mother, Lonna Carpenter Wilson, three grandparents and other relatives attended her May 13 graduation.
She will start graduate school at UNC-Charlotte this fall. “I hope to get a job in a nonprofit or government organization where I can help the Latino population. I think it’s a good cause and will give me a chance to do something that impacts society.”