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Margaret Tartala is a second year Master’s student in the Department of City and Regional Planning. She also serves as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves.

1. What is the biggest difference you’ve noticed in transitioning from military life to civilian life?

How people communicate is a big difference. In the military, direct communication is considered key, while communication in the civilian world, at least in an academic setting, seems much more passive.

2. What is something you wish you had known before moving here?

I wish I had known more about opportunities for military-affiliated students at UNC and gotten involved sooner. Even though I am in the Reserves, I have always lived on a military post or in a community with a large military presence, which Chapel Hill does not have. Events for military-affiliated students have been a great way to feel connected to the military community while I am at UNC.

  1. What is an important lesson that you learned in the military that has helped you in grad school?

The most important lesson I learned in the military that has helped in grad school, and in life in general, is to ‘embrace the suck’. Life gets hectic and there are not enough hours in the day sometimes, but you might as well meet it head-on.

  1. What made you choose UNC/NC when deciding on a program/place to study?

My decision was pretty easy as UNC has one of the top planning programs in the country (it was ranked number three last year). I was also interested in the research that the professors in my program were doing. And I had a great time meeting my future classmates at open house, and was excited to be in the Triangle area. 

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