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Lyric Locklear, an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe, is a current junior at UNC-Chapel Hill majoring in Psychology and minoring in medical anthropology. She is from Rowland, North Carolina, which is a small town in Robeson County. Lyric described Robeson County as her home, stating “not only did I grow up there, but it’s where people look like me and sound like me. All of my friends and family live there” 

Lyric has been a lifelong Carolina fan. She mentions, “Carolina is a prestigious school, it was where I wanted to go. I have always been a fan and with my financial aid award, I was able to attend”.  

Lyric remembers working on the farm with her father during the hot summers, learning about how plants grow and the chemicals used to help them grow. This experience piqued her interest in science outside of the classroom. Knowing she enjoyed helping others and science, her family members persistently encouraged her to pursue higher education. With the mindset embedded into her that college is the only way out of the small town of Rowland, Lyric grew up with a clear sense of direction. 

Lyric has many goals for the year, but her main goal is to keep growing as a person. She stresses the importance of being a better person for the communities that she partakes in. She strives to be a role model for other rural community students wanting to pursue a higher education. During the summer, Lyric will be interning in the field of behavioral psychology. Outside of school work, this summer, she is looking forward to riding four-wheelers, eating ice cream, and attending concerts.  

After obtaining her degree, Lyric hopes to attend medical school to study naturopathic medicine, viewing patients physical, spiritual, emotional, and intellectual well-being. She hopes to use traditional Indigenous medicine and practices to incorporate holistic health into Native communities. She has witnessed the health concerns of her Native people and aims to focus on serving that population. In Robeson County, a high percentage of people are suffering from substance use, which can stem from the lack of recreational activities in the community and those who may misuse medication. With holistic health, Lyric hopes to find a new and effective way to help those struggling with substance abuse. She emphasizes that using Indigenous methodologies to cure these issues will energize culture revitalization in communities. More Native people will be using traditional ways to heal and cure themselves.  

Since coming to Carolina, Lyric has taken many roles. Within the Lumbee Tribe, she’s an avid volunteer. She particularly enjoys her service to the tribe’s powwow, Dance of the Harvest (or Spring) Moon. She gained certification as a youth mental health first aid instructor and strives to use this role to spread awareness and teach the Lumbee community how to support the youth with first aid and mental health.  

Lyric served as Powwow Co-chair for the 2023-2024 academic year for the Carolina Indian Circle (CIC), a student group on campus where Native students fellowship and form a community with each other. “CIC is about us sharing spaces as Native students, we share our culture and heritage and make memories.” 

Lyric has very little free time, but enjoys going to the gym to work out as a way of relieving stress. She also enjoys reading writing poetry, thrifting, collecting vinyl records, buying herself flowers, and scrolling on TikTok. “Writing poetry is a means of expressing my emotions and I am good at using metaphors.” Lyric also enjoys rolling pastry on Sunday afternoons after attending church in the Durham area. She states that maintaining her relationship with God allows her to continuously strive to be the best version of herself every day, no matter which space she walks into. 

Lyric’s favorite memory at Carolina so far was being able to rush Franklin Street four times.  

While attending Carolina, Lyric worked at a package center on campus. Currently, she serves as an American Indian Center intern for the cultural garden.  

The American Indian Center is like a safe haven for Lyric. “It reminds me of the elders in my hometown community and reminds me of my grandma’s house, a Lumbee grandma’s house. The AIC staff are friendly and welcoming and are the backbone of the Native community on the UNC campus.” 

Lyric wanted to give a special mention of some words shared by Zianne Richardson, a UNC alum and newly crowned Miss Indian North Carolina MINC. During the pageant, her interview questions asked how could she be MINC and navigate being a teacher, and how would she walk in two worlds. Zianne mentioned that Indigenous people don’t walk in two worlds. Native people are Indigenous and they remain Indigenous no matter what they do or where they go. Lyric mentioned, “I want people to understand that I’m not just Indigenous at the AIC or CIC but everywhere I go. I’m Indigenous in classrooms, in interviews, and when hanging out with friends. I know we often feel like we have to change ourselves to fit in, whether that be our accent or the phrases we use. But, I want – my hope is for us Native people to be our authentic selves and walk into all spaces being who we are.” 

Author: Jalyn Oxendine




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