Outward Bound participant broadens perspective of service

Each summer, the Carolina Center for Public Service awards North Carolina Outward Bound School (NCOBS) scholarships to participants in the Buckley Public Service Scholars program, Carolina Leadership Development and the School of Education to spend 28 days on-course at NCOBS. Austin Gragson ’17, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant, recently returned from Outward Bound School and shares his reflection of the experience.


What started as initial excitement and wanderlust for the impending adventure quickly faded to soreness and frequent, periodic thoughts of “how am I going to survive this?” With time, I learned to appreciate the opportunity that was given to me. I made it my mission to learn a lesson or two before I was free from what I believed would be never-ending waves of challenges.

However as the days passed what started as impossible tasks became old tricks. I started to internalize Emerson’s quote that has become an old mantra of Outward Bound – “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

The daily challenges presented to my crew were no longer a matter of if our bodies could make it through but rather if our minds could. This subtle switch in perspective provided for an incredible improvement in performance as I realized what was holding me back was not what my body couldn’t withstand but what I thought I couldn’t withstand.

Through my experience I learned to meet challenges with a smile and jumped into uncomfortable situations instead of running away from them. I was also challenged to broaden my perspective of service. My instructors expanded my definition of service beyond a “big picture” point of view. They encouraged me to look for “micro-service” that benefits those around me. We are always able to give back to others around us and we don’t have to purposely seek out a new environment in order to serve others.

Learn more about the Center’s Outward Bound scholarships.

APPLES summer intern works to give back to the community

2014 APPLES summer intern MarrowFor many students, internships are all about gaining valuable experience. But for Raisa Marrow, ’15, an APPLES Service-Learning summer intern at Kidzu Museum in Chapel Hill, that experience also comes with an added benefit of impacting the community.

“I was attracted to the APPLES internship program because I knew it would provide me with an opportunity to do work in which I felt I was giving back to the community,” Marrow said. “I have received so much help throughout my career at Carolina and it has really made such a difference. I wanted to be able to do the same for others.”

APPLES internships are unique, intense experiences in service during either the spring semester or summer. Students intern at a variety of nonprofit and governmental agencies, receive funding ($1,200 for spring and $2,500 for summer) and participate in a service-learning course.

Marrow, an elementary education major from Jackson, North Carolina said, “The idea of service-learning interests me because it is easy to sit in the classroom and brainstorm ideas about how to tackle social issues and help communities, but going out into the field, interacting with people and having your own firsthand experiences provides insight into the issues and helps cultivate new ideas in a more authentic manner. That is why service-learning is so important.”

Because the achievement gap is an issue close to her heart, Marrow chose to intern at Kidzu to gain varied experience working with children in the community in which she lives and where she will also be student teaching in the fall. “So many children do not receive an adequate education because of race, socio-economic status and other factors. In my opinion, every chance I get to work with children is a chance for me to help close [this gap].”

As a Kidzu intern, Marrow has done worked on many tasks including creating lesson plans for field trips, working in The Makery (arts and crafts center) and attending outreach events.

“I feel I have made an impact by bringing the knowledge and perspectives of a future educator,” Marrow said. “I was able to align my lesson plans with NC Common Core standards, so students are able to learn through play at the museum in a way that connects to what they are being taught at school.”

Marrow’s work in the community is not the only impact made. She adds that her experience at Kidzu has influenced her as well by increasing her creativity and ability to quickly create and adapt ideas.

“Before my internship I would not have considered myself an artist, but working in The Makery and being in charge of creating crafts for our new themes has really pushed my creativity,” Marrow said. “I am also sometimes asked to do educational demos with the children which pushes me to think quickly. I know these skills will be useful in my future classroom. I could not think of a better way to spend my summer than working with amazing children and helping them learn and have fun even when school is not in session.”

Former APPLES organizer shares life story and passion for service

By Meghan Modafferi and Frank Stasio

Listen to Alexandra’s interview on The State Of Things

APPLES 20th  Zagbayou

For the first time, I recognized that some of my life experiences mirrored the lives of my students. Alexandra Zagbayou

Alexandra Zagbayou was born in Montreal but returned to her father’s homeland of Ivory Coast when she was 4 years old. Six years later, her family fled because they feared political persecution in the tense years before the country’s civil war.

“We thought we would be in the U.S. for a summer. The summer turned into 15 years,” she said.

The family moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where Zagbayou learned English by reverse engineering her school’s French classes.

Later, her parents returned to Africa while she and her sister stayed in Raleigh with their aunt and uncle. A few years after that, their uncle was killed.

Zagbayou’s older sister became her primary guardian while she worked hard to finish high school and secure funding for college.

One summer, Zagbayou taught dance classes to homeless and displaced youth. This was when she first began to process her own challenging life experiences. She realized not only that she related to her students, but that she had come out the other side.

Today she helps run the Durham-based college-access organization, Student U. The program empowers students to pursue their own educational journeys despite diverse challenges.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Zagbayou, High School Program Director for Student U.

Cover photo courtesy of Student U.

Faculty Engaged Scholars receive national award

Professors Analyze Media Coverage of Sex Trafficking

By Maura Devetski for The Daily Tar Heel 6/30/2014

UNC professors Barbara Friedman and Anne Johnston were recognized for their work on the Irina Project with the Donna Allen Award for Feminist Advocacy by the Commission on the Status of Women.

The purpose of the project, co-directed by School of Journalism and Mass Communication professors Friedman and Johnston, is to analyze the media coverage of sex trafficking and promote the fair and accurate reporting of the issue.

“We came together as researchers with an interest in gender issues,” Friedman said.

Friedman said they noticed a trend of criticism in the media coverage of sex trafficking that lacked evidence, which inspired their first study of sex trafficking coverage in the media.

“We are not only talking about (sex trafficking) but linking it to how it is covered in the media,” Johnston said.

Friedman and Johnston collaborate with other groups involved in the movement against sex trafficking such as survivors, social workers and law enforcement officials.

The Commission on the Status of Women within Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication gives the Donna Allen Award to a woman or group that exemplifies the values of Donna Allen, founder of the Woman’s Institute of Freedom of the Press.

Chairwoman for the Commission on the Status of Women Spring Duvall said it was the dedication of its co-directors and the real world application of their research that set the project apart.

“All of the judges commented on (the impressiveness) of the scope of the work that Dr. Johnston and Dr. Friedman are doing,” Duvall said. ”(They recognized) how passionate and committed they are to the project.” 

Susan King, dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said the award was an indication of how important the work of scholars is in the journalism school.

“It’s an affirmation that the work (of Johnston and Friedman) has real meaning and is a challenge for others,” King said.

She said Friedman and Johnston managed to identify an important issue in the country and receiving the recognition is an added bonus.

Friedman and Johnston were recently selected for the Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars program, which brings together faculty in the development of engaged scholarship projects, like the Irina Project.

Friedman and Johnston said they would like to develop a standing website that will be based on their research as well as contributions from other sources like journalists and healthcare professions.

“That will help us take the project where we want to go,” Johnston said.

Read more about Friedman and Johnston’s award and work at jomc.unc.edu.

Tenth class of UNC Buckley Public Service Scholars honored at graduation event


Chapel Hill, N.C. – Two hundred and fifty-one members of the class of 2014 will be honored as Buckley Public Service Scholars (BPSS) May 9 at a ceremony in Memorial Hall, highlighting their years of service while at Carolina. All graduates will receive a Carolina blue and white cord to wear at commencement on May 11 to represent their achievement. To commemorate the ten years of graduates, former provost Richard J. Richardson will address the graduates.

The program, part of the Carolina Center for Public Service, supports and strengthens Carolina students’ commitment to service, connects them to others who care about similar issues and guides them through training and course work that make their service more effective. Launched in 2003, BPSS presently has 9 percent of Carolina undergraduates enrolled as participants. In 2011, the Center announced the establishment of the Walter White Buckley Jr. Endowment from an anonymous donor. This endowment ensures Buckley Public Service Scholars will graduate for generations to come.

To receive formal recognition, Buckley Public Service Scholar participants must have a minimum grade-point average, complete at least 300 hours of service, take one service-learning course and attend four skills-training workshops as well as complete a final refelction activity. Most of this year’s graduates exceeded these requirements, on average completing more than 450 hours of service. Fifteen students reported more than 1,000 hours each, and two students recorded more than 2,000. These students join the 1,365 past Buckley Public Service Scholars who have graduated since 2003.

“My experience in the Buckley Public Service Scholars program has been one of learning,” said graduating senior Emily Bushman. “I have learned that there is a deeper meaning of public service beyond simple volunteering. I have gained a strong sense of empowerment that comes from this deeper public service and have seen the communities and institutions I serve be empowered as well.”

Since the program’s inception, more than 5,635 students have participated, contributing 1.35 million hours of service. This year, participating students reported service with more than 1,000 organizations like UNC Hospitals, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle, UNC Dance Marathon, Relay For Life and Student U. The 2014 graduating class of Buckley Public Service Scholars reported 113,400 hours of service as of March 2014. Of those hours, 85 percent primarily benefited North Carolina, 10 percent other states and five percent other countries. With this tenth graduating class, there are now 1,616 Buckley Public Service Scholar graduates.

“These exemplary students spent their years at Carolina strengthening the culture of public service and community engagement,” said Lynn Blanchard, director of the Carolina Center for Public Service. “Through their dedicated participation, they fostered connections among the University, its students and North Carolina communities. We are excited to see these students continue their commitment to public service after graduation.”

Learn more about the graduating class in the 2014 BPSS graduation bulletin.

2014 Buckley Public Service Scholar graduates by county, state and country:

Alamance: Jesse Crayle and Lenzie Purcell

Buncombe: Sean Langberg, Ivy Palas, Nabila Ratani and Julie Uffelman

Cabarrus: Hannah Burris, Suzanne Jasmine, Elizabeth Rossitch and Lauren Silver

Camden: Lauren Forbes

Catawba: Kelly Boyd, Timothy McEachran and Georgia Titcomb

Chowan: Katelyn Blanchard

Cleveland: Alex Ledbetter

Craven: Phillip Healy

Cumberland: Kehinde Adeoti, Ann Atienza, Tanisha Edwards, Julia Hah, Alexis Leca, Rebecca Lee, Jessica Milbern, Britt Sikora and Sheila Spence

Davie: Elizabeth Davis and Taylor Moore

Durham: Amelia Ahern, Keia Faison, Daniel Jourdan and Emily Palmer

Forsyth: Samantha Bauer, Olivia Eskew, Stefan Hansen, Courtney Harriott, David Hill, Nicole Lawing, Jiwon Lim, Samantha Luu, Caroline Porter and Brynn Smith

Gaston: Yvonne Nguyen

Granville: Joseph Konstanzer and Sharessa Royster

Guilford: Obafunbi Abimbola, Gabriel Baylor, Madiha Bhatti, Leslie Blake, Schara Brooks, Joël Hage, Jessica Jenkins, Devyn McDonald, Logan Nail, Emily Pelehach, Katherine Simkins, Wendy Song and Laura Wert

Halifax: Hinson Neville

Harnett: Benjamin Blue

Haywood: Meredith Corn

Henderson: Ashley Roy

Hertford: Allen Jones

Iredell: Elizabeth Davis, Savan Kothadia and Mary-Claire Spencer

Johnston: Kathryn Cook

Lenoir: Juliana Saracino

Lincoln: Shelby Sugierski

Macon: Gaitry Aruwani

Mecklenburg: Laida Alarcon, Caroline Conner, Hope Davis, Neelesh Dewan, Holton James Dunville, Katherine Dyer, William Gerhard, Laura Grier, Grant Heskamp, Adriana Iturbide Rodriguez, Katherine Johnston, Avery Keese, Lauren Kowadlo, Conor O’Neill, Neal Patel, Vishalee Patel, Portia Polk, Claire Powers, Lauren Salvia, Megan Salvia, Zainab Shams, Anna Sturkey, Neha Vennekkat, Nicole Welsh, Caroline White, Devin White, Kate Wilson and Amberli Young

Moore: Emily Ott

Nash: Lein Soltan

New Hanover: Kaitlyn Brobst, Kathleen Hayes, Melanie Johnston, Abigail Terkeltoub and Lindsay Wright

Northampton: Kelsey Smith

Orange: Lisa Couper, Christopher Cunningham, Katherine Krantz, Hetali Lodaya, Robert Mook, Hoang My Huu Nguyen, Anneke Oppewal and Camille Sowder

Pender: Hannah Afify

Pitt: Jonathan Laprade and Lisa Owusu-Antwiwaah

Randolph: Rabiah Choudhary, Brooke Foster and Brittany Reeves

Richmond: Kiara Aranda

Rockingham: Lashawn Hart

Rowan: Mary Margaret Mills

Rutherford: Carsyn Butler

Stanly: Hope Wolf

Wake: Risikat Ademola, Natalie Allcott, Pooja Aphale, Swathi Ayyagari, Priya Balagopal, Minhaj Baqai, Ashley Beale, Mary Bitler, Sarah Broadwell, Shalini Chudasama, Jennifer Craven, Kenan Ender, Nora Fritz, Shyra Hall, Alexandra Hammer, Olivia Hart, Nariman Heikal, Anne Holmes, Nguyen Huynh An Le, Janice Lee, Meredith Lewis, Ceewin Louder, Alexandra Montaner, Renee Montpetit, Nikita Patel, Pooja Patel, Sheila Patel, Anna Perry, Grace Peter, Tyson Presnell, Sarah Pruteanu-Malinici, Julia Ramos, Christopher Rota, Matthew Ryan, Gautam Sanka, Farhana Shemna, Simone Trotman, Samantha Tulenko, Priscilla Tutu, Avani Uppalapati, Madhulika Vulimiri, Margrethe Williams, Caitlin Wood, Yiwen Wu, Linda Yang and Alekhya Yechoor

Washington: Sheev Patidar

Watauga: Aidan Berry, Emily Bushman, Kelsey Gustaveson and Emma Seagle

Arizona: Samantha Pfotenhauer

California: Carolyn Jeffries and Savita Senthil

Connecticut: Elise Hopkins, Molly Laux and Marisa Segarra

Florida: Elizabeth Ayers, Patricia Bajuelo, Michelle Bandklayder, Natalie Borrego, Paula Muñoz, Jennifer Neal, Julia Nething, Blake O’Connor, Myrna Perez and Shannon Steel

Georgia: Kelsey Aho, Sarah Barger, Mandy Eidson, Elizabeth Greenberg, Josephine Kooijman, Ellen McKnight, Matthew Meyers, Pooja Mohanty, Kelsey Pan and Courtney Sanford

Illinois: Kathleen Burch, Elizabeth Goslin, Anna Ollinger and Kyle Ann Sebastian

Kentucky: Raymond Barry

Maryland: Kristina Hsieh, Sara Robinson, Kristen Rosano and Margaret Vandeusen

Michigan: Kevin Claybren

New Hampshire: Kendall Nicosia-Rusin

New Jersey: Brittany Newman-Eckert, Kathleen Ughetta, Carlisle Uhlman and Rachel Uhlman

New York: Mykal Adams, Amanda Baldiga, Michelle Brant, Elke-Esmeralda Dikoume, Akilah Ffriend, Madeleine Hindenlang, Daranee Nasongkhla, Alexa Oyague and Rick Vavolizza

Ohio: Christopher Flesher and Hannah Smith

Pennsylvania: Christopher Felix and David Warner

Puerto Rico: Viviana Bonilla-Lopez

South Carolina: Kiaira Reed and Cheyenne Turner

Tennessee: Arthur Guyton and Anna Spickard

Texas: Niaisha Johnston, Ann Scavone and Zoe Wolszon

Utah: Zachary Alexander

Virginia: Samantha Halle, Kelly Mcdermott, Irene Newman, Katie Overbey, Taylor Price and Vishwajith Sridharan

Washington: Jasmine Kreig and Orlando Mendoza

Washington, D.C.: Lindsey Bargelt

Wisconsin: Liz Hawryluk

China: Chenxi Yu

Singapore: Gwen Hwarng


Nine faculty members selected for fifth class of Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars

The next class of Faculty Engaged Scholars, leaders in their respective fields, will address a wide variety of issues including analyzing the administrative burden of summer meal programs for children in need, developing web-based resources for journalists who cover sex trafficking, and creating a clinical scholars forum to involve local speech-language pathologists in the research process.

Nine faculty members were recently selected for the fifth class of Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars (FES), a program sponsored by the Carolina Center for Public Service at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The program brings together selected faculty from across campus to engage in a two-year experiential, competency-based curriculum designed to advance their engaged scholarship.

Every other year, eight to 10 faculty members are selected to participate in the program aimed at learning about and pursuing community engagement through scholarly endeavors. The nine faculty members selected for the fifth class of Faculty Engaged Scholars are:

  • Maureen Berner, professor, School of Government
  • Juan Carrillo, assistant professor, School of Education
  • Barbara Friedman, associate professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Cheryl Giscombe, assistant professor, School of Nursing
  • Adam Jacks, assistant professor, Department of Allied Health Sciences
  • Anne Johnston, Shumaker Distinguished Term Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Steven May, associate professor, Department of Communication Studies
  • Vicki Mercer, associate professor, Department of Allied Health Sciences
  • Cherie Ndaliko, assistant professor, Department of Music

During the two years, scholars work with community partners to develop projects and participate in sessions in community settings to learn about each other’s projects. While developing their projects, each class of scholars forms a learning community with the course directors to support one another’s projects. Dr. Ronald Strauss serves as faculty director and Melvin Jackson as community director.

In 2013, the Chancellor Holden Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars Endowment was established at the Carolina Center for Public Service. The endowment was created with a $1 million gift from an anonymous donor to name and support the Center’s Faculty Engaged Scholars program.

Since the program began in 2007, 43 faculty members have been selected from nine schools and 21 departments to participate in the program. The growing network of Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars reports outcomes including new interdisciplinary collaborations, successful grant applications and both traditional and non-traditional products of their scholarship. Through this engaged scholarship, the program continues to build strong university-community relationships.

Bryan Social Innovation Fellows impact Nigeria’s youth

Destiny brings triplets to Carolina


After sisters Risi and Sheri Ademola graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill this weekend, they will head in different directions. Risi is moving to San Francisco or New York for work, while Sheri will start graduate school in Illinois. Their other sister, Rucca, graduated a semester ahead of them in December and is heading to Los Angeles for more school.

Despite the distance that will be between them, the triplets from Raleigh will maintain a common and active bond to Carolina. The trio is developing a project called iLead Nigeria, a campaign and curriculum designed to help elementary school-aged students develop skills to one day become leaders in their country.

The mission is personal for the Ademola triplets. Their parents immigrated to the United States from Nigeria before the triplets were born. The sisters have visited their family there regularly since 2002.

“It won’t be right for us not to go back and help our country,” says Risi.

A moral responsibility

Risi came up with the idea for iLead as a senior at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School. Her graduation project looked at educational methods to help Nigeria youth. As part of the project, she donated school supplies and developed a leadership curriculum.

At UNC, Risi received a Bryan Social Innovation Fellowship through the Carolina Center for Public Service to expand on the idea. The fellowship is designed for students who want to make a significant change in a community through an entrepreneurial project. Fellowship team members enroll in a public policy course and receive up to $1,500 to help launch their ideas, support from staff and other students and leadership training and personal development.

All three of the Ademola sisters are working on the leadership curriculum, along with another UNC senior, Toyosi Oyelowo. They have adopted an elementary school to work with and they keep in touch with the principal there once a month. Risi will return to Nigeria this summer to further work on the program.

The iLead Nigeria curriculum includes public speaking and career development lessons, but also seeks to help the young students further develop traits such as courageousness, persistence, patience and hard work. The women hope the Nigerian students will use what they learn through the curriculum to become community leaders or leaders in their careers who will speak out about injustices.

The women hope to develop iLead Nigeria into a campus organization in which two or three Carolina students work on the program in Nigeria each summer. They would also like to expand the program to other schools in Nigeria and recruit Nigerian university students to work on the program as well.

“I feel like it is kind of like a moral responsibility for us. We’ve been blessed here,” says Rucca.

Destiny to come to Carolina together

The triplets say it was destiny that brought all three of them to Carolina. They each served in student government in high school, with Risi as president, Sheri as vice president and Rucca as secretary. By their senior year, they started to develop separate interests from each other.

While they came to Carolina together and lived together for two years, they found different ways to occupy their time. Sheri majored in psychology and by her sophomore year had started conducting neurobehavioral research in the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies in the UNC School of Medicine. Risi, a journalism major, joined a sorority and loved to dance. Rucca, who majored in women and gender studies and African, African-American, and Diaspora Studies, started practicing yoga and meditation and spent a lot of time journaling.

Risi and Sheri also spent a semester abroad in the fall, while Rucca finished her coursework at UNC early and graduated a semester ahead of her sisters. Still, the triplets came together to work on iLead Nigeria because they want children in their parents’ home country to have the opportunities they have had in the United States.

“This word ‘destiny’ really captures our moments here at Carolina,” Sheri said. “We have been so involved in different activities for four years now and toward the latter part of our college experience, we have come together for this one project. I think it is kind of interesting. I think it is a little bit striking.”

By Natalie Vizuete, University Relations.

APPLES and BPSS student participants receive Chancellor’s Awards

Congratulations to these students involved in the APPLES Service-Learning and Buckley Public Service Scholars programs. Each received Chancellor’s Awards recognizing their academic or service leadership.

  • Amanda Baldiga ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Howard W. Odum Undergraduate Sociology Award, given to the senior judged by the department faculty as the most outstanding in academic performance.
  • Sarah Barger ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Peter C. Baxter Memorial Prize in American Studies, given to the undergraduate in that discipline who best exemplifies Baxter’s intellectual excellence, personal warmth and creativity.
  • Aidan Berry ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Edward McGowan Hedgpeth Award, given to the two undergraduates in Alpha Epsilon Delta voted most outstanding in service.
  • Rachel Brown ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the he Panhellenic Council Woman of the Year Award, given to the undergraduate who has made the most significant contributions in leadership, scholarship and service to her chapter and the Greek and University communities.
  • Kevin Claybren ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Frank Porter Graham Award, given to the senior who has made the most outstanding contribution to realization of the human ideals of equality, dignity and community.
  • Christopher Cunningham ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Robert White Linker Award, given to the most outstanding undergraduate residence hall officer.
  • Zachary Ferguson ’07 , a Buckley Public Service Scholar received the Albert and Gladys Hall Coates Award, given to the member of the Student Congress whose service through the Student Congress is judged most outstanding on criteria of statesmanship, commitment and constructive involvement in issues affecting the quality of the University community.
  • Joel Hage ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, given to one man and one woman in the graduating class who have best demonstrated unselfish interest in human welfare.
  • Brooke Hill ’15, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Jane Craige Gray Memorial Award, given to the junior woman judged most outstanding in character, scholarship and leadership.
  • Joshua King ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Walter S. Spearman Award, given to the senior man judged most outstanding in academic achievement, extracurricular activities, leadership qualities and strength of character.
  • Nicole Lawing ’14,a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Edward McGowan Hedgpeth Award, given to the two undergraduates in Alpha Epsilon Delta voted most outstanding in service to campus and community through the society.
  • Lisa Owusu-Antwiwaah ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the National Pan-Hellenic Council Award, given to the undergraduate who has made the most significant contributions in leadership, scholarship and service to his or her individual chapter and the Greek and university communities.
  • Sharessa Royster ’15, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the George Moses Horton Award for Multicultural Leadership, given to a senior who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, initiative and creativity in multicultural education programs.
  • Courtney Sanford ’13, a Buckley Public Service Scholar and APPLES Service-Learning organizer received the the Irene F. Lee Award, given to the senior woman judged most outstanding in leadership, character and scholarship.
  • Katie Savage ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, to one man and one woman in the graduating class who have best demonstrated unselfish interest in human welfare.
  • Anna Sturkey ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the L. Richardson Preyer Award for Excellence in Political Science, given to a senior judged by a faculty committee to have established the most distinguished record of scholarship in political science and community service. She also received the Ferebee Taylor Award, given to the member of the graduating class who has made the greatest contribution to the continued vitality and strength of the Honor Code in the community.
  • Jasmine Sun ’16, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Keith Shawn Smith Award for Community Development and Mentorship, given to the resident adviser or resident adviser mentor who has created a strong community, meaningful mentoring relationships and campus connections.
  • Nathan Tilley ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Bernard Boyd Memorial Prize, given to the senior majoring in religious studies who has been selected by a faculty committee as most outstanding in academic achievement.
  • Julia Whitley ’15, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the I.R. Hagadorn Award, given to the outstanding rising senior biology major with the highest GPA in biology courses and who has demonstrated excellence and dedication in undergraduate research.
  • Chenxi Yu ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Undergraduate Prize in Economics, given to the economics major judged most outstanding, based on performance in major and related courses.

For a complete list of Chancellor’s Award recipients, see UNC News.

APPLES recognizes 2014 service-learning award recipients

2014 APPLESAwardsGroupExtending learning beyond the boarders of the classroom is the essence of service-learning. Every day, UNC students, faculty, staff, alumni and local community partners put this concept into practice making a difference in the lives of individuals and the communities they serve. To honor their work, each year the APPLES Service-Learning program recognizes those individuals and organizations who have exhibited a sustained and deep involvement in service-learning at Carolina. This year, Hannah Smith, One Act, Hannah Gill, Robyn Fehrman and Clair Lorch received awards for their outstanding contributions to service-learning at the annual APPLES award brunch held Friday, April 11.

Hannah Smith – Undergraduate Excellence Award

Hannah Smith, a graduating senior majoring in Health Policy and Management, is honored for her involvement with the Samaritan Health Center over the years. Her work reflects a sustained and ongoing commitment to the community, while demonstrating genuine and valuable contributions to the organization. Her work has extended to her honors thesis project where she is researching patient satisfaction and health care access.

One Act – Community Partner Excellence Award

One Act is honored for its sustained and ongoing commitment to interpersonal violence prevention and the development of unique and valuable trainings to build awareness among students. The unique work of One Act integrates education, service, reflection and social action which provides students with particularly meaningful and transformative learning experiences. Through One Act’s partnership with service-learning, students have been included in significant work on campus, and in the community.

Hannah Gill – Teaching Excellence Award

Hannah Gill is selected based on her work with the Latino Migration Project and the APPLES Guanajuato course, where she has continued to deepen students’ understanding of local migrant perspectives over the years. Her teaching has strengthened the quality of learning in these courses through local and global community-based experiences combined with challenging critical reflection.

Robyn Fehrman – Outstanding Alumni Award

Robyn Fehrman is a 2000 and 2004 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a former APPLES organizer. She is honored for her efforts and contributions toward social change in the roles she has served in for various nonprofit organizations, including Planned Parenthood, Triangle Community Foundation and Teach For America of Eastern North Carolina. Robyn’s work reflects a passion for working with individuals and communities with the goal of increasing capacity building and social change

Claire Lorch – Service-Learning Award in honor of Ned Brooks

Claire Lorch is celebrated for her deep commitment to building community through service and ensuring food access to University employees. Through Claire’s determination, the Carolina Campus Community Garden (CCCG) has become a thriving part of our campus. She has sustained long-term partnerships with various APPLES courses, enriching the education and experience of Carolina students, while making a substantial impact impact on the lives of University employees and their families. Before her work with CCCG, Claire’s career at Carolina in various roles has reflected a genuine and meaningful connection with individuals and communities.

“Service is at the heart of APPLES and the same can be said of the Community Garden,” Claire Lorch said. “This garden is so much more than vegetables; it’s being involved in something bigger than all of us. It brings the campus and community together for a common goal…. APPLES allows students to take a deep dive into the workings and needs of the garden. There is only so much I as the garden manager can do. We are able to do so much more because of the students’ and their professors’ commitment to this work. It is our hope that the garden is a meaningful experience for them and one they will continue to benefit from in years to come.”

Early action can help with autism

Linda R. atson

Autism Researcher, Linda R. Watson

By Linda R. Watson

One in 68 children show symptoms of autism spectrum disorder by the time they reach 8 years of age, according to statistics released last week by Centers for Disease Control. The meaning of these numbers is highlighted for me as I hear more and more stories from friends and acquaintances whose families include a member with ASD.

As an autism researcher, I am asked many questions about autism for which we continue to lack definitive answers, including, “Why is autism increasing so much?” But I welcome these hard questions, because they open conversations about some of the important progress we have made in understanding this neurodevelopmental disorder.

One important advance is much more knowledge of the early risk markers for ASD. This has led to improvements in our ability to identify toddlers with ASD. Through early identification, we increase the chances that these toddlers and their families will have access to early intervention programs.

Although good intervention programs at all ages can improve functioning for individuals with ASD, the most dramatic improvements have been seen among toddlers and preschoolers who participate in intensive intervention programs. Improvements include better language and cognitive skills and fewer problem behaviors, which are associated in turn with better school performance and a greater likelihood of independent living as adults. For these reasons, early identification of children with ASD is a priority for the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics, among other organizations.

Through the Program in Early Autism Research, Leadership and Service at UNC-Chapel Hill, my colleagues and I are examining the risk markers for ASD in infants and young toddlers.

We previously developed a research version of a questionnaire for parents of 12-month-olds that identifies about half of the children who will be diagnosed with ASD as preschoolers. Many parents of children eventually diagnosed with ASD express concerns about their child’s development by the child’s first birthday, but the risk markers at this age are often subtle. Thus, both parents and physicians are hard-pressed to know how seriously to take the concerns in the absence of a good screening tool.

Our questionnaire, the First Year Inventory, provides information on whether a 12-month-old is at high risk for ASD or other developmental problems sharing some of the same early risk markers.

This questionnaire also has made it possible for our team to begin evaluating interventions with 1-year-olds and their parents prior to the time that autism symptoms have fully emerged. Our hope is that starting appropriate interventions at such a young age will be especially effective because the brains of infants and young toddlers are growing rapidly and are very “plastic,” meaning that their future brain growth can be altered by their early experiences.

This month, 40,000 families in North Carolina will be asked to assist in the very early identification of children at risk for autism and other developmental problems. These are families who have infants between the ages of 9 and 16 months, as identified through public birth records in our state.

Parents will receive a postcard early this month inviting them to participate in the North Carolina Developmental Survey online or by mail. Our PEARLS team is doing this survey to improve our parent questionnaire and adapt it for a broader age range of infants. Through these changes, we aim to make the questionnaire useful for pediatricians and other community professionals who see infants and young toddlers and talk with parents about their child’s development. The more responses we receive to the North Carolina Child Development Survey, the more confident we can be about what behaviors are typical for infants in this age range, and what behaviors best identify infants likely to have later developmental problems, including ASD.

April is Autism Awareness Month. Without question, the awareness of autism is at an all time high. As a society, we face a major public health challenge of how we will respond to the increasing prevalence of ASD. Early detection and early intervention are important components of a comprehensive approach.

North Carolina is at the forefront in our country in lowering the age at which ASD is diagnosed, but the average age of diagnosis in our state is still a relatively old 46 months. Thus, many children are being diagnosed too late to participate in early intervention. We can do better. The North Carolina Child Development Survey provides an opportunity for North Carolina parents to help meet this challenge.

Linda R. Watson is a clinical associate professor of speech-language pathology in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, Department of Allied Health Sciences at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

Originally appeared in The News & Observer.