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Nehemiah Stewart, UNC undergraduate alumnus and current MD/Ph.D. student at the Song Lab in UNC Pharmacology founded the nonprofit “Level the Playing Field” in 2020 aiming to reduce the diversity gap in professional networks.

Nehemiah Stewart
Nehemiah Stewart, MD/Ph.D. student at the Song Lab in UNC Pharmacology, founder of the nonprofit “Level the Playing Field”

“Level the Playing Field” serves as a hiring pipeline dedicated to empowering underrepresented students. This initiative surpasses traditional training programs, providing comprehensive support and ensuring participants acquire the essential skills and knowledge for success. Committed to fostering diversity and equal opportunities, the program goes a step further. It offers paid, full-time internships nationwide at companies and research laboratories. This strategic approach allows students to gain practical experience and establish valuable connections within their desired industries. Moreover, transitioning from mere training to tangible experience, “Level the Playing Field” serves not only as a pipeline but also fosters an inclusive community. Here, students, faculty partners, and donors collaboratively champion diversity in the professional realm.

During the 2023 UNC convocation, Nehemiah, invited as the keynote speaker, shared his message with new undergraduates. “The injustices of the world will cause a friction within you. It will chafe against your inner core as you wonder, ‘Why has no one stepped up to heal the pains of this world with a soothing ointment?'” Nehemiah said, “and as you journey through your four years, my friends, you’ll discover that there is no one to care for these issues except you.”


~ The quotes above are extracted from the news article titled “Convocation marks start of Class of 2027’s journey”. (UNC University Communications, August 21st, 2023)

Watch the video interview of Nehemiah Stewart with Innovate Carolina regarding Leveling the Playing Fields. (Released July 23rd, 2021)

Read the write-up “UNC alumnus ‘Levels the Playing Field’ for minority students in North Carolina”. (Daily Tar Heel, October 16th, 2022)