Two Students Receive ICFNC Board Scholarship

Aniyah King, a sophomore at St. Andrews University, and Yulia Trogdon, a senior at Salem College, have each received a $2,375 Advisory Board Corporate Scholarship from the Independent College Fund of North Carolina (ICFNC) for the 2020-21 academic year. King, from Nashville, NC, is majoring in Sports Medicine, and Trogdon, from High Point, is majoring in Graphic Design.

The ICFNC Advisory Board Corporate Scholarship was established last year by the corporate members of the Advisory Board and is awarded to a full-time, undergraduate student from one of 25 private, nonprofit colleges in North Carolina who demonstrates financial need. The ICFNC Advisory Board is made up of presidents from North Carolina’s private, non-profit colleges and universities, and corporate executives.

“We are so grateful for the ICFNC Board, whose members only give of their time and service, but who show dedication to our students with the establishment of this scholarship.” said Colleen Kinser, director of the ICFNC.


Independent College Fund of North Carolina Raises Nearly $3.5M in 2024

The Independent College Fund of North Carolina (ICFNC), the crucial fundraising arm of North Carolina Independent Colleges & Universities (NCICU), has achieved a groundbreaking fundraising milestone by raising nearly $3.5 million during its annual campaign, which ended April 30, 2024. This impressive amount represents an outstanding 81% increase from the previous year and is the second-highest fundraising total in ICFNC’s seventy-year history.

“The incredible support we have received this year demonstrates the collective dedication to supporting students, faculty and staff, and enhancing educational opportunities in North Carolina,” said NCICU President Dr. Hope Williams. “We immensely thank all our donors and partners for their generosity.”

Of the Campaign Total of $3,456,358.39, $1,783,814.00 will support NCICU programs, $1,192,949.95 came through in-kind gifts and services, and $479,594.44 is designated for scholarships.

“We are thrilled to have surpassed our fundraising goals for 2024, which are a testament to the dedication and generosity of our supporters and a lifeline that transforms students’ lives through higher education in North Carolina,” said Colleen Kinser, Director of ICFNC. “This remarkable achievement is a testament to the tireless support and belief in the mission of ICFNC and NCICU.”

One of the standout scholarships is the S.T.A.R. (Student Teacher Assistance for Retention) Scholarship, which aims to provide financial support to college seniors pursuing an educator preparation program. This scholarship received overwhelming support, with over $313,000 raised. Thanks to this commitment, numerous college seniors can now focus on their studies, classroom experience as student teachers and future careers. Notably, the Dogwood Health Trust contributed $224,000 towards scholarships, living expenses, testing stipends, and educational materials for colleges and universities in the western part of the state. The Council of Independent Colleges also made a significant contribution of $25,000, matched by generous donors including The Broyhill Family Foundation and Clancy & Theys Construction Company.

NCICU’s partnership with critical foundations led to a substantial fundraising amount of over $1.3 million this year. The contributions from The Arthur Vining Davis Foundation, The ECMC Foundation, The Bill & Malinda Gates Foundation, The John M. Belk Endowment, The Lumina Foundation, and The Teagle Foundation have enabled a pilot project involving NCICU institutions and North Carolina Community College System institutions. This project will support the design of a transfer portal for students seeking to transfer to a four-year independent college or university and it will also provide the software to enable a Reverse Transfer process between two and four-year institutions.

In addition to scholarships and programs, ICFNC received a valuable $1.2 million in-kind donation from SAS Software. This grant supports NCICU and individual campuses by offering software and training. Currently, 32 NCICU institutions are part of this program, further reinforcing the commitment to advancing education through technology.

The success of the 2024 fundraising efforts highlights the collaborative efforts and commitment of ICFNC, NCICU, donors, and partners toward creating a brighter future for higher education in North Carolina.

For more information about NCICU’s scholarships and programs, visit
To support the Independent College Fund of North Carolina, visit


NCICU Announces the 2024 Undergraduate Research Award Recipients

North Carolina Independent Colleges & Universities (NCICU) is proud to announce the 2024 recipients of the prestigious Undergraduate Research Award. This year, 11 outstanding students received stipends for their exemplary work in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), and psychology.

The NCICU Undergraduate Research Award program supports students from NCICU’s 36 colleges and universities who are actively engaged in undergraduate research. The undergraduate research endowment, established by NCICU with generous contributions from the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation and other corporate and foundation donors, funds stipends of varying amounts based on the types of projects students are undertaking.

These talented students, classified as juniors or seniors for the 2024-2025 academic year, have demonstrated exceptional research skills and a dedication to academic excellence. They will have the esteemed opportunity to present their projects at the annual State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium (SNCURCS), a collaborative initiative between NCICU and the University of North Carolina, further highlighting the importance of their work.

The 2024 SNCURCS Symposium, scheduled for the fall, will provide a platform for the award recipients to showcase their research findings and engage with scholars from across the state. More information about the symposium will be available to the participants during the upcoming summer and fall semesters.

The recipients of the 2024 NCICU Undergraduate Research Award are:

Charlotte Dagli >

Samantha Giraldo >

Kyndal Elaina Jackson >

Kyle Kellar >

Michaela Lantz >

Tuyet Anh Nguyen >

Clare Pilson >

Carter Stoke >

Rachel VanWinkle >

Ronaldo Williams >

Austin Wise >

Charlotte Dagli
junior, biology major (pre health), Charlottesville, VA
Elon University

The overarching objective of Charlotte Dagli’s study is to Enhance Reovirus oncolytic capacity in malignant fibrosarcoma cells via targeted viral evolution and combination therapy. To accomplish this goal, she studies panel strains and variants and the combinatorial impacts of Reovirus.

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Samantha Giraldo
junior, biology major (pre-med track) with a minor in humanities and chemistry, Kannapolis, NC
Catawba College

Samantha Giraldo’s primary objectives were to ascertain whether total or partial inhibition of polyamine biosynthesis lowers the viability of HBZ-expressing cells and to investigate the overall transcriptional profiles of HBZ-expressing cells using RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) to assess how HBZ affects metabolic activity.

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Kyndal Elaina Jackson
senior, biology major (biomedical emphasis), Gaffney, SC
Gardner-Webb University

Kyndal Jackson’s studies focus on ascertaining the effects of caraway seed oil and contrasting them with the essential oils that were initially examined.

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Kyle Kellar
senior, chemistry major, Fuquay-Varina, NC
Campbell University

Kyle Kellar’s research deals with the multistep synthesis tested with students for the first time in Organic II laboratory sections at Campbell University under IRB approval. The objective of this study was to gather and examine student data over two years to submit a manuscript for publication in the Journal of Chemical Education.

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Michaela Lantz
senior, biochemistry major, Lebanon, PA
Catawba College

Michaela Lantz’s study determines whether or not reproductive malignancies, such as ovarian and cervical tumors, exhibit this biphasic activity. Furthermore, by observing a biphasic response, we expect to understand better the biological mechanisms involved.

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Tuyet Anh Nguyen
junior, chemistry major, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Gardner-Webb University

Tuyet Anh Nguyen’s study focuses on the oil extracted from star anise (Illicium verum), synthesizing the antiviral Oseltamivir. In analyzing the oil, she will conduct tests on her findings and present her discoveries at a conference later in the fall 2024 academic year.

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Clare Pilson
senior, biology major, Raleigh, NC
Meredith College

Clare Pilson’s study, which lasted four semesters, has the main objective of determining whether the amphibian CORT can be quantified from dermal swabs using ELISA kits. This study also aims to address current Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infection rates using skin swabs from eight Wake County Parks.

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Carter Stoke
junior, exercise science major, Clayton, NC
Elon University

Carter Stoke’s study found that high theacrine doses can influence cardiovascular function, enhance cognitive abilities, and alter stress response, highlighting its potential as a mental and performance enhancer with specific physiological impacts.

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Rachel VanWinkle
junior, biochemistry (pre-med) major, Lillington, NC
Campbell University

Rachel VanWinkle’s use of thiamine-dependent enzymes represents a significant advancement in synthetic chemistry. This method utilizes the natural catalytic abilities of thiamine-dependent enzymes to form carbon-carbon bonds between carbonyl compounds and alkyl halides.

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Ronaldo Williams
senior, biology major, Kingston, Jamaica
Chowan University

Ronaldo Williams suggests that thymol can effectively improve wheat germination and early growth, offering a natural method to support crop resilience against these common fungal infections.

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Austin Wise
junior, environment & sustainability major, Corbin, KY
Catawba College

Austin Wise’s study highlights the broader ecological impact of mercury pollution and the need for ongoing monitoring and mitigation efforts to protect wildlife and ecosystem health.

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Click here for more information about the Undergraduate Research Symposium.


Meet the 2023-2024 NCICU Interns

North Carolina Independent Colleges & Universities (NCICU) is thrilled to introduce the interns for the 2023-2024 academic year. These individuals embody our institutions’ commitment to nurturing future leaders and fostering excellence in various fields. Their selection is a testament to the value we place on their potential contributions.

Through their internships, students gain invaluable practical experience, build networks, and contribute to innovative projects that align with NCICU’s excellence tradition.

Meet all five of the NCICU’s interns for the 2023-2024 academic year:

Michael Bowen >

Oscar Miranda Tapia >

Daveon Dunn >

Alexis A. Thompson >

Savannah Willette >

Michael Bowen
Government Relations Intern
Campbell University School of Law

Michael joined NCICU in May of 2024 and serves as intern for government relations and general counsel. He attended UNC-Chapel Hill for his undergraduate studies and is now a law student at Campbell University School of Law. Prior to joining NCICU, Michael completed a spring clerkship with the NC Court of Appeals. While at UNC, Michael took opportunities to intern for his Congressman on Capitol Hill, and then for the President in the White House. After passing the bar, Michael is looking to join a law firm in a government relations or general practice capacity.

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Oscar Miranda Tapia
Policy Intern and then Graduate of Elon University
Ph.D. program at NC State University

Oscar Miranda Tapia joined NCICU in May 2024 and serves as an intern. He is also a PhD student and provost fellow at NC State University, where he is pursuing a degree in educational leadership, policy, and human development. Additionally, Oscar is a research associate at the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research and has experience working as a graduate research assistant at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. Prior to beginning his doctoral studies, Oscar led first-generation college student initiatives at Elon University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Elon University and a master’s degree in higher education from Harvard University.

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Daveon Dunn
Special Projects Intern
Saint Augustine’s University

Daveon D. Dunn joined NCICU in May 2024. He currently serves as an intern here at NCICU. Daveon is a native of Raleigh, North Carolina. He graduated from Saint Augustine’s University in 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in health & physical education while working multiple jobs. Before attending Saint Augustine’s University, Daveon went to Garner High School, where he played basketball & football, which led him to play basketball at Saint Augustine’s University from 2020 to 2023.

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Picture of Alexis Thompson

Alexis A. Thompson
Special Projects Intern
Campbell University

Alexis A. Thompson is a native of Fayetteville, North Carolina. She is a 2024 graduate of Campbell University where received a Bachelor’s degree in Communication with a concentration in Pre-Law and a minor in Community Leadership and Engagement. Before attending Campbell, Alexis went to Berean Baptist Academy in Fayetteville. At school, she served as the 2023-2024 Student Body Vice President, a devoted member of Lambda Pi Chi: Communication National Honor Society, and engaged in many other organizations. She has also received honor awards ranging from the Dean’s List (3.5 GPA or higher for the academic semester) to several scholarship awards. Her experience at Campbell has been instrumental in developing her passions for legislation, and community engagement, as well as diversity and inclusion. Alexis is excited and humbled to serve as a 2023-2024 NCICU Special Projects Intern.

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Picture of Savannah Willette

Savannah Willette
John M. Belk Impact Fellow
Elon University

Savannah Willette is a 2024 graduate of Elon University where she received a degree in Policy Studies with a minor in Communications. Outside her work with NCICU, Savannah is a John M. Belk Impact Fellow, an opportunity that has allowed her to continue her passion for education policy and advocacy in North Carolina. After graduation, Savannah intends to pursue a career that combines her interest in public policy, education reform and communications.

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Click here for more information about NCICU’s staff.


NCICU Celebrates Graduation Ceremonies Across 36 Colleges & Universities

North Carolina Independent Colleges & Universities (NCICU) is pleased to celebrate the graduation ceremonies of all 36 campuses. These ceremonies mark a significant milestone in the academic journey of over 83,000 students who hail from all 100 counties in North Carolina, 50 states, and countries around the globe.

“The dedication and academic excellence displayed by our graduates are a testament to the quality of education provided by NCICU schools,” said Dr. A. Hope Williams, President of NCICU. “We are honored to support, represent, and advocate for North Carolina Independent higher education, and these graduation ceremonies embody the culmination of our shared mission.”

NCICU institutions play a vital role in shaping the educational landscape of North Carolina. These colleges and universities collectively award one in four bachelor’s degrees and one in three graduate and professional degrees in the state. Their impact extends beyond academia, contributing significantly to the economic prosperity of North Carolina. With a combined economic impact of $14.2 billion and employing over 66,000 individuals, NCICU institutions are integral to the state’s overall public interests and future growth.

Below is a list of graduating ceremonies from each NCICU institution:

In addition to celebrating its students’ academic achievements, NCICU is committed to supporting their success through the Independent College Fund of North Carolina and various programs, scholarships, and collaborative partnerships. These initiatives provide students with valuable resources and opportunities to excel in their educational pursuits. The impact of these programs is evident in the accomplishments of graduates across NCICU institutions.

For more information about NCICU’s scholarships and programs, visit


Queens University of Charlotte Repeat Ethics Bowl Champion

For the second consecutive year, Queens University of Charlotte is champion of the statewide Ethics Bowl, an annual event organized by North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU). The event was held Feb. 9-10 at the North Carolina Legislative Complex in Raleigh.

Eighteen teams from NCICU campuses participated in the competition. The 2024 theme was, “Ethics in Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity.” Students had to consider several complicated cases involving both artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, then make their arguments about their position on the case.

Final scores were tallied, semi-finalists were announced, and the two matches set: Queens University and High Point University were paired, as were St. Augustine’s University and Montreat College. Queens and Montreat met in the finals, where Queens University prevailed.

Queens University of Charlotte President Daniel Lugo with the university's winning 2024 NCICU Ethics Bowl team
Queens University of Charlotte President Daniel Lugo with the university’s winning 2024 NCICU Ethics . (c) Robert Witchger

“This year’s teams were exceptional,” said NCICU President Hope Williams. “It was clear they had done extensive research on the complex topics and developed well-organized, cohesive arguments to present to the judges. I was very impressed with all the teams.”

This was NCICU’s 13th Ethics Bowl. Williams believes it provides unique, important opportunities for the students. “By participating in the Ethics Bowl, students learn research and presentation skills that will serve them well in their careers,” Williams said.

But the most valuable opportunity, she noted, may have been interacting with the more than 70 professionals who volunteered their time as judges or moderators and who represent many networking opportunities and careers, from law, architecture, engineering and cybersecurity to banking, nonprofits, and state agencies.

Thanks to sponsorships, the event is self-funded. That means there is no cost to students or campuses. “We are very grateful to our sponsors,” Williams said. “Several new sponsors this year also had representatives attend the event and serve as judges. They really enjoyed the experience.”

Clark Dudek, a Triangle entrepreneur and AI expert, was keynote speaker at the dinner on Friday night at the North Carolina Museum of History. He discussed how society has adapted to emerging technologies. “AI is new and may be scary [to some],” he said. “But we are working on how to connect with this new tool and learn how it can complement the rest of our tools.”

The 2024 participating colleges and universities were: Barton College, Campbell University, Catawba College, Gardner-Webb University, High Point University, Johnson C. Smith University, Livingstone College, Mars Hill University, Methodist University, Montreat College, North Carolina Wesleyan University, Pfeiffer University, Queens University of Charlotte, St. Andrews University, Saint Augustine’s University, University of Mount Olive, William Peace University, and Wingate University.


NCICU Announces Recipients of NC Sheriffs’ Association Scholarships

RALEIGH, NC – North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities is pleased to announce recipients of this year’s North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association (NCSA) Criminal Justice Scholarship. Students at 14 private colleges and universities in North Carolina received the $2,000 awards.

NCSA provides scholarships per academic school year for criminal justice students attending a North Carolina independent college or university. Applications are sponsored by local sheriffs and recipients must be North Carolina residents. The association is the statewide organization of the state’s 100 sheriffs. Through their association, the sheriffs work to strengthen the professional law enforcement services their offices provide to the people of North Carolina.

NCICU President Hope Williams thanked the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association for supporting students pursuing a criminal justice curriculum. “We deeply appreciate this partnership with NCSA to assist students who are pursuing a career in law enforcement.” NCICU administers the program for independent college and university students.


NCICU, NC Community Colleges sign Early Childhood Education transfer agreement

Early Childhood educators with associate degrees from North Carolina community colleges will now have seamless transfer opportunities to many private North Carolina four-year colleges. The opportunities result from Friday’s [August 18] signing of a joint agreement by the State Board of Community Colleges and North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU).

The State Board of Community Colleges approved the proposal for a Uniform Articulation Agreement between North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU) and the North Carolina Community College System at the August 18 board meeting – expanding transfer opportunities for students pursuing careers in early childhood education.

The agreement promotes educational advancement for students enrolled in the Associate in Applied Science in Early Childhood Education (ECE) program at community colleges that want to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Birth-Kindergarten (BK) teaching licensure program or a Bachelor’s Degree in a related Early Childhood Education Field from select independent colleges and universities in the state.

Picture of Dr. Jeff Cox, NC Community Colleges, and Dr. Hope Williams, NC Independent Colleges & Universities
Dr. Jeff Cox, left, president of North Carolina Community Colleges System, and Dr. Hope Williams, president of North Carolina Independent Colleges & Universities, at the signing of the Early Childhood Education transfer articulation agreement.
“Early Childhood and Birth to Kindergarten are critical stages in children’s development. We want to ensure our North Carolina teachers in these vital areas receive the best education to be able to help children learn and grow,” said Dr. A. Hope Williams, president, North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities. “NCICU is pleased to approve this articulation agreement with the North Carolina Community College System to enrich and streamline support and increase transfer options for these teachers.”

The agreement will increase opportunities for applied associate degree early childhood educators who wish to earn baccalaureate degrees and create a more seamless – and guaranteed – transfer process for community college early childhood education students.

“This is a milestone day for our system and for our state,” said Dr. Lisa Eads, Associate Vice President of Programs at the North Carolina Community College System. “There is a critical need for early childhood professionals in North Carolina. With the signing of this agreement between NCCCS and NCICU, we are demonstrating our commitment to early childhood professionals serving children and families in our state.”

This coordinated approach should increase ECE to BK student retention and persistence and reduce time-to-degree completion. The agreement will increase the number of teachers with four-year degrees with a BK licensure and support non-teaching positions that may not require licensure, including Smart Start, Head Start, Department of Health and Human Services, and other public, private or non-profit organizations.

Students are required to meet applicable admissions criteria for the institution of their choice, including but not limited to minimum GPA and Praxis scores (only required for teacher license track).

“The North Carolina Community College System is dedicated to building talent pipelines for critical professions and industries in our state and early childhood is certainly a vital need for our state and our economy,” said System President Jeff Cox. “Our mission is to make it as easy as possible to get high-quality education and preparation for these careers.”

For many years, NCICU and the System have been working together to increase opportunities for transfer students, and this agreement is a product of that collaborative work. All 58 community colleges are approved to offer this program and are included in this agreement.


31 NC Educator Prep Programs Implement the Science of Reading

In 2022, North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU) established a taskforce to begin work on a groundbreaking initiative to revamp reading instruction in Educator Prep Programs (EPPs) at NCICU institutions based on the science of reading.

The science of reading is a research-backed approach, focusing on fundamental reading skills such as phonics and explicit teaching methods which offer significant benefits to young students, particularly for struggling readers. By diving deep into the mechanics of how we learn to read, from the intricacies of brain science to effective teaching strategies, the science of reading promises to bring about a transformative shift in literacy rates.

To help research, develop, and implement support systems that assist faculty to fully align their college courses with the science of reading, the Goodnight Educational Foundation provided a two-year grant to NCICU. With those funds, subgrants were distributed to all 31 EPPs on NCICU campuses to redesign literacy courses and internships. Through their work over the past year and a half, all 31 EPPs have revised their courses and most of them have added new courses and learning experiences. Deans and faculty members came together this summer to report on their progress and share initiatives that have been implemented to date.

For example, one college used some of the subgrant funds to connect with local elementary schools, building a mobile tutoring lab that they took to those schools to aid struggling readers. Another created a series of intensive workshops with its local elementary schools to aid first grade students in phonological awareness, and to demonstrate how best to intervene with struggling readers. Another institution partnered with a local K-12 school which specializes in teaching kids with learning disabilities. Together, they developed a 10-hour asynchronous course that engages future teachers in a deep dive into content that will enable them to support readers with the challenge of breaking the alphabetic code.

“We recognize that reading and comprehension are keys to student achievement at all levels of education,” said NCICU president, Hope Williams, “and we are so impressed with the collaboration among EPPs and the innovative ideas they have developed and implemented for the Science of Reading curriculum at the 31 NCICU Educator Prep Programs.”

The NCICU Task Force has been developing a Faculty Teaching Toolkit, an online database that includes handouts, videos, and readings to help faculty across the state learn and teach the science of reading.

Through this new initiative, NCICU seeks to pave the way for a future where every student, regardless of their background or learning challenges, can become a confident, proficient reader. It is a bold move in education and a significant step towards enhanced literacy in North Carolina.


Williams Receives Trailblazer Award

NCICU president, Hope Williams, has been awarded the Trailblazer Award from the North Carolina chapter of the American Council on Education (ACE) Women’s Network.

“The North Carolina ACE Women’s Network is delighted to recognize Dr. Hope Williams with our Trailblazer Award for her sustained and outstanding contributions to advancing women in higher education,” stated Amy A. Overman, assistant provost and professor at Elon University, and state chair of the Network. “Hope’s record of advocating for equity has shaped our state’s higher education landscape in important ways.”

“I am honored to receive this award from such outstanding women leaders across our state’s higher education continuum, including NCICU, the UNC System and the NC Community College System, said Williams. “North Carolina’s ACE Women’s Network is integral to providing a support system to develop and encourage women’s leadership in higher education to the benefit of students, colleges and universities, and the entire state.”

The North Carolina ACE Network of Women Leaders, Inc. is a non-profit, volunteer organization that is a part of, and shares the purpose of the American Council on Education’s (ACE) leadership programs. As such, the NC ACE Network seeks to develop programs that identify, develop, encourage, advance, link, and support women in higher education careers in North Carolina.


NCICU Spring 2023 Newsletter

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