UNC students mentor to be a role models

Sometimes, when college students hang out with elementary and middle school students, transformative experiences happen. That’s how Taysha James, a senior sociology major from Maple Hill, North Carolina and Jonathan Buechner, a junior European studies and political science major from Greensboro, described their time spent with students through the SMART Mentoring program.

“I got involved with SMART because I realized that young African-American ladies where I’m from don’t have a lot of role models to look up to,” James said. “I wanted to help someone who might not think that they could make it to college understand that they actually can do it.”

SMART Mentoring, a program offered by the Carolina Center for Public Service in partnership with Volunteers for Youth, engages UNC undergraduate students and local middle-school students in mentoring relationships. The program targets students from low-income communities and focuses on issues of race, class and gender. Designed for highly motivated students who are committed to making a positive difference in the lives of youth, SMART mentors enroll in a fall three-credit hour course and a spring one-credit hour course offered in the Department of Sociology.

SMART Mentor Jonathan Buechner and his mentee.Buechner, who had mentors throughout high school and at UNC, said SMART helped him think about social inequality and the importance of investing in the younger generation. “SMART challenged me to go outside of my comfort zone and do something I never have done before. I hope I was a positive academic role model for Sol,” Buechner said. “His mom wanted someone to help him transition from elementary to middle school as well as to get him thinking about his future. I gave him tours of campus, had meals in the dining halls with my friends, did homework in the Union, and went to the Ackland Art Museum and various sporting events. I wanted him to get a ‘taste’ of college life and imagine himself here and see UNC (and college more broadly) as an attainable goal.”

Unique in its approach, SMART mentors are immersed in a two-semester program that explores issues of race, class and gender, particularly as they apply to youth.

“I was a chemistry major,” James said. “However once I got involved with SMART and took the sociology course Race, Class and Gender, I realized that there were other ways to help people. The courses showed me that a lot of people would strive to do better if they knew what opportunities would help them. This class, along with the sociology course Health and Society, sparked my interest in public health.”

Now a sociology major, James said the most important thing she learned as a SMART mentor is that by spending time with a young person, showing them that you care and exposing them to activities and ideas they may not be familiar with, can impact the way they view education and a future career.

Buechner added “I found SMART to be a unique program and a great way to get an in-depth service experience.
“I also met an outstanding cohort of classmates whose diverse backgrounds and perspectives enhanced my critical thinking skills. The program brought to light the value of mentors in helping young people develop into mature citizens of the world.”

Susan Worley, director of Volunteers for Youth said SMART mentors benefit the local community in many ways. “It’s hard to imagine, but there are lots of kids who have lived their whole lives in Chapel Hill and never been on the UNC campus. Having a chance to develop friendships with college students, do homework with their mentors in their dorm rooms, cheer on the Heels together at the Dean Dome, or share a treat at Yopo opens these kids’ eyes to a world of possibilities they may never have imagined.”

James, one of 18 UNC students who served as SMART mentors during the 2015-2016 academic year, said she felt the time she dedicated to her mentee was time well spent, benefitting them both in ways she did not expect.

Smart Mentoring“I believe I had a positive impact on Starrie,” James said. “Her mother shared with me that since being involved with SMART, Starrie doesn’t mind reading for homework, which she hated doing. She also has a more positive outlook on education.”

Mentoring through SMART also impacted the mentors.

“Being a part of SMART reaffirmed my interest in seeking a career in public service, “Buechner said. “By engaging in experiential learning outside of the classroom…I learned more about the structural barriers that low-income and minority communities face. I gained a first-hand perspective about what discrimination, racism and income inequality look like rather than just learning the statistics from a textbook.

“This experience also reaffirmed my passion for interacting with people of various backgrounds and learning their stories. I hope to pursue a career in which I can positively impact the lives of others and promote social change.”

With another academic year about to start, James will continue her involvement with SMART, assuming a leadership role as the program’s co-chair, planning and organizing SMART activities, and overseeing all mentor/mentee events. She also said she plans to stay connected to Starrie. “I look forward to exploring new adventures and places with Starrie this year and I hope to become even closer with her and her family.”


Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars progam adds new faculty members

By Macon Gambill – The Daily Tar Heel

Ten UNC faculty members were recently selected for the sixth class of Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars. The program, named for former chancellor Holden Thorp and sponsored by the Carolina Center for Public Service, aims to bring together distinguished faculty from a variety of fields to learn from one another and advance their engaged scholarship.

Faculty Director Ronald Strauss said the selection process for the program is competitive, with less than half the applicants for a given class typically receiving spots.

“Engaged scholarship is scholarship that is developed in collaboration and in consortium with community members,” Strauss said. “It allows a scholar to address issues of concern within communities and return benefit to communities by involving the participants in research, not just in selection of the topic, but the decision of how the research will be done.”

The sixth class will begin the program in fall 2016. As part of the two-year program, scholars will decide how they will advance their engaged scholarship individually through group dialogue and community excursions.

“The first year is a year of sessions of really going out on the road, learning from community, learning from each other, learning from faculty who are doing the work and then reflecting on that,” Lynn Blanchard, director of the Carolina Center for Public Service, said. “And then the second year is more focused on the individual scholar’s work, where each scholar has a chance to present their work and really use their group as kind of a sounding board to bounce questions off of.”

“One of the things that I like most about the program is that it attempts to bring in scholars from different disciplines,” Community Director Melvin Jackson said. “They come with an idea or a project that they are interested in working on…But something I have seen is there have been instances in which the scholars have engaged within their class and with classes that preceded them and have developed reshaped agendas that complement themselves.”

Members of the sixth class see the program as a way to build upon previous research and extend its benefits beyond the walls of the academy.

“I’ve been interested in and have done engaged scholarship kind of on my own for quite some time,” Thorp Scholar Anna Agbe-Davies said. “I’m pretty deeply embedded in the community of archaeologists who are doing this work, but aside from people in my own department, I didn’t know what people across the University were doing.

“Having a chance to learn from people who are doing this work full-time, embedded in their communities, is really valuable,” Agbe-Davies said.

“I saw the problem as a way to kind of accelerate the translation of my research and other relevant research to the communities in a way that helps me understand methods and gain tools to do these projects because we’re not all the time trained to engage with communities,” Thorp Scholar Kimon Divaris said.

“It’s a great way to connect very good faculty that we have across the board at UNC with the community, which is, I think, ultimately what we should be thinking all the time, even if we’re doing basic research or other types of development — thinking how they will translate to meaningful improvement in people’s wellness,” Divaris said. “I think that’s the way to serve them better.

Read more: http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2016/06/scholar-program-adds-new-faculty-members

Ten faculty members selected for Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars program

Ten faculty members at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were recently selected for the sixth class of Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars (FES). These scholars will develop projects in partnership with community organizations like Historic Stagville in Durham to study the skills and expertise of enslaved laborers and The Farm at Penny Lane to improve housing and other community-based services for individuals with severe and persistent mental illness.

Anna Agbie-Davies field researchLeaders in their respective fields, these 10 faculty members will participate in the two-year program sponsored by the Carolina Center for Public Service. The Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars program brings together selected faculty from across campus to engage in an experiential, competency-based curriculum designed to advance their engaged scholarship. The ten faculty members selected are:

  • Anna Agbe-Davies, associate professor, Department of Anthropology
  • Antoine Bailliard, assistant professor, Department of Allied Health Sciences
  • Leisha DeHart-Davis, associate professor, School of Government
  • Kimon Divaris, associate professor, School of Dentistry
  • Julia Haslett, assistant professor, Department of Communication
  • Coretta Jenerette, associate professor, School of Nursing
  • Alexandra Lightfoot, research assistant professor, Gillings School of Global Public Health
  • Enrique Neblett Jr. associate professor, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Dana Thompson Dorsey, assistant professor, School of Education
  • Rachel Willis, professor, Department of American Studies

Every other year, eight to 10 faculty members are selected to participate in the program aimed at understanding and pursuing community engagement through scholarly endeavors. During the two-year program, scholars participate in sessions in community settings focused on exemplary University-community partnerships. While developing their own projects with community partners, scholars form a learning community with the course directors providing guidance and support. 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, 53 faculty members have been selected from 11 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 these efforts, the program continues to build strong university-community relationships.

About the Carolina Center for Public Service

The Carolina Center for Public Service connects the energy and expertise of both the University and the community to provide students, faculty and staff with deep and transformative experiences. Through engaged scholarship and service, we work together to create collaborative and interdisciplinary solutions to local and global challenges.


Twelfth class of Buckley Public Service Scholars honored at graduation event

Two hundred and seventeen seniors, all who dedicated themselves to service during their time at UNC, were honored as Buckley Public Service Scholars (BPSS) May 6 at a pre-graduation ceremony in Memorial Hall. All graduates received a Carolina blue and white cord to wear at commencement on May 8 to represent their achievement.

The program, part of the Carolina Center for Public Service, supports and strengthens Carolina students’ commitment to service by providing a framework to make a positive impact through service. BPSS participants build portfolios reflecting their learning and unique experiences throughout North Carolina, the nation and the world; connect to others who care about similar issues; and are involved in training and course work that make their service more effective. Launched in 2003, more than 10 percent of Carolina undergraduates are currently enrolled as BPSS participants, representing approximately 80 percent of majors on campus. The 2016 class of Buckley Public Service Scholars represent 45 North Carolina counties as well as 20 other states and China. The students being honored join the 1,941 past Buckley Public Service Scholars who have graduated since 2004, bringing the total number of scholars to 2,158.

“The Buckley Public Service Scholars program has been one of the highlights of my Carolina experience,” said Janell Smith, a member of the 2016 graduating class. “It has encouraged me to be an active member of the Carolina community, to intentionally reflect on my impact on the community, and to be grateful for the community’s impact on me.”

The 217 students graduating in the 2016 class of Buckley Public Service Scholars reported more than 98,000 hours of service as of April 2016. To receive formal recognition, BPSS participants must have a minimum grade-point average, document at least 300 hours of service, take one service-learning course, attend four skills-training workshops and complete a final reflection activity. Many of this year’s graduates surpassed these requirements, completing more than 450 hours of service on average. Five students reported more than 1,000 hours each, and one submitted more than 2,000 hours.

Since its inception, 7,984 students have participated in the BPSS program, contributing 1.5 million hours of service. This year, participating students reported service with more than 1,000 organizations like Student United Way, Refugee Support Center, Farmer FoodShare, Global Health Connections International and Relay For Life. Of the hours reported by this year’s graduates, 74 percent primarily benefited North Carolina, 12 percent other states and 14 percent other countries.

“A highlight of the work at the Carolina Center for Public Service is recognizing students who have dedicated themselves to making an impact, and this year is no exception,” said Lynn Blanchard, director of the Carolina Center for Public Service. “These seniors have been affiliated with a variety of campus and community organizations, demonstrating their commitment to others while building their own skills and gaining valuable experience. We congratulate them for making public service an integral part of their Carolina experience.”

BPSS is supported through the Walter White Buckley Jr. Endowment. For more information about each Buckley Public Service Scholar, visit https://ccps.unc.edu/files/2016/05/2016-BPSS_Grad_Bulletin.pdf.


2016 Buckley Public Service Scholar graduates by county, state and country: Photos available by request.

Alamance County – Julianne Blackburn, Rebecca McKee Jordan, Sara Ali Khan

Brunswick County – Elyse Marie Sulkey

Buncombe County – Katherine Cavagnini

Burke County – Jacob Anderson Ford

Cabarrus County – Noopur Doshi, Nicole Frey, Jade Hinsdale

Camden County – Miranda Kalbach, René Marcella Kronlage

Carteret County –  Hailey Louise Gosnell, Laura Amber Thomason

Caswell County – Keadija C. Wiley

Catawba County – Joy-Lynn Dawn Rhoton

Chatham County – Ashley Logan Andrews, Leslie Morales

Cleveland County – Spencer Gregory Byers *, Christiana Taylor

Columbus County – Kimberly Danielle Clarida

Craven County – Kayla Ann Schliewe, Katherinne Shannier Wawrzonek

Cumberland County – Courtney Elisabeth Bain, Leslie Samuel Bright III, Mercallis Edmund, Anika Hannan, Hanha L. Hobson, Reghan Katherine Horman, Sumanjit Mehmi, Shelby Elizabeth Miller, Conor Addison Winters

Davidson County – Rachel Nicole Woolridge

Duplin County – Virnaliz Jimenez

Durham County – Claire Louise Hannapel, Diane Nicole Leadbetter, Vianey Lemus Martinez, Danielle Luffman, Megan Nicole Stanley

Forsyth County – Carrie Lorraine Barlow, Emily Walker Hodgin, Ying Lin, Nastassja Ortiz

Gaston County – Ivana Chan,Amber Pritchard

Guilford County – Paris Caitlin Alston, Kierra Larue Campbell, Halah Flynn, Evelyn Alexandra Ford, James Thomas Gooding III, Morgan Lynn Herman, Lauren Hubner Howland, Ashley Karoline Joyce, Amanda Marie Kubic, Mridula Manoj, Temitope Olofintuyi, Caila Prendergast, Dasha Shaw, Brittany Nicole Simpson

Halifax County – Briana Nicole Macon

Harnett County – Haley Barefoot

Henderson County – Catherine Louise Swift

Iredell County – Molly Mason Bruce, Caroline Laurens deSaussure, Megan Seema Gurjar, Anissa Nicole Neal

Lee County – Anita Gandhi, Renisha Harris

Lenoir County – Daniel James Irvin, Angel Hannah Washington

Mecklenburg County – Callie Ann Bader, Sophie Grace Bergmann, Amber Marie Cassady, Connor Michael Choka, Casey Daniel Collins, Thalita Maria Cortes, Olivia DeSena, Rachel Virginia Hagerman, Emma Lee Hanmer, Nicole Lane Huntley, Catherine Jackson-Jordan, Mitchell Prescot Jester, Lara Liszka, Morgan Elizabeth Marin, Anna Meade, Merrick Robinson Osborne, Pranati Laxmi Panuganti, Gunjan Patel, Preeya Atul Patel, Gayatri Rathod, Destiny Rogers, Shauna Marie Rust, Hayden Elizabeth Schober, Erica Nicole Silvestri, Cecilia Maria Smetana, Jessica Wendy Stickel, Charlotte McIlwaine Story

Moore County – Hannah Suzanne Webster

New Hanover County – Alexis Danielle Akeyson

Northampton County – Kimberly Abigail Lassiter

Onslow County – Michael Glenn Morrison ll

Orange County – Shad Albarazanji, Emma Louise Armstrong-Carter, Erika Marie Clary, Michelle Nicole Gay, Lama Khalil Haidar, Cassandra Karlsson, Sarah Molina, Katherine Hannah Mulligan, Andrea Nicole Stewart, Grace Millard, McCollum Ware

Pitt County – Jerome M. Allen, Caroline Basnight Collier, Courtney Marie Hardy, Danielle Elizabeth McLaughlin, Kaitlyn Oakley

Polk County – Madison Murphy Alexander, Allison Clayton, Cade Warner Underwood, 

Randolph County – Ryan Jacob O’Hara, Ifra Rehman, Addie Schoenberger

Richmond County – Jamilah Dawkins

Rockingham County – Mary Katherine Ward

Rutherford County – Marie Claire O’Leary

Sampson County – Troy Kay Royal

Stokes County – Austin Chapman-Lovette Cromer

Surry County – Cory Eaton

Union County – Adeline Elise Dorough, Ariana Cecilia Gavin, Chisimdi Onwuteaka, Pooja Patel, Mary-Katherine Scheppegrell

Wake County – Saima A. Akbar, Kendall Adrianne Bagley, Marissa Bane, Michelle Brint, Caylin Rachel Bullock, Alia Brielle Capone, Sarah D. Chen, Nainisha Chintalapudi, Yasemin Canan Cole, Lorelei Claudette Feeny *, Chamara Anthony Fernando, Lauren Elizabeth Fulcher, Brianna Diane Gaddy, Lindsay Gorman, Apoorva Gupta *, Chelsea Gustafson, Atima Huria, Alexandra Eva Isaacs, Sloan Yvette Johnson, Laurel Ann Keefer, Yasmin Singh Khera, Tirumala Devi Kodavanti, Szu-Aun Lim, Christine Elizabeth Malarkey, Sara Kathryn Mayson, Sa’a Mohammed, Sarah Morton, Daniel Stuart Parker, Meredith Grace Parker, Scott Benjamin Parker, Radha Atul Patel *, Richa B. Patel, Chandler Rock, Sean Nicholas Ryan, Anushree Kristie Singh, Claire Smith, Jessica Faith Smith *, Julia D. Stroup, Kelly Rebecca Tan

Watauga County – Olivia Horton

Wayne County – David B. Joyner, Holly Pittard

Florida – Jourdan Jillian Black, Jacob Rhys Higdon, Yushan Wang

Georgia – Radha Piyush Patel, Hannah Christine Single, Melissa Swope, Courtney Elizabeth Turner

Illinois – Mia Lei, Katelyn Leigh McIntosh

Maine – Sean Kevin McClung

Maryland – Kimberly Ann Blasey *, Phanna Iamlek, Kamaara Jordan Lucas, Nia Chantelle Rush, Janell Kae Smith, Rhea Wyse

Michigan – Ajene Robinson-Burris

Mississippi – Helen Sophie Kyriakoudes

New Hampshire – Ian Michael Gallager

New Jersey – Emma Leigh Berry, Danny Rahal, Pallavi Surana

New York – Samantha Asofsky, Lynn-Indora Edmond, Victoria Lee Lai

Ohio – Katherine Wiley

Oklahoma – Alexander Dean Sherry

Pennsylvania – Julia Demarest, Jessica Lindsay Smith *

South Carolina – Olivia Sawh

Tennessee – Daniel Peters

Texas – Julia Katharine Baker, Jessye Lemley Halvorson, Hilda Isabel Santiago

Vermont – Daniel Peter Hogenkamp

Virginia – Elizabeth Stuart Agnew, Marnie Lalon Blalock, Katherine Anne Cordova, Jennifer Loraine Heyward, Geneva Sara Melquist Jost, Chloe Alistair Karlovich, Sarah R. McShane, Mihir Pershad

Washington, D.C. – Milan Noel Flanagan

Wisconsin – Dana Mansfield, Amandla Kesi Stanley

China – Le Feng

* Indicates December 2015 graduates.

UNC honors 10 individuals and organizations for public service

2016 PSA group - SpannBy Janell Smith

The projects recognized by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill during the 2016 Public Service Awards are each distinct and important in their own ways, but their commitment to serving their communities unites them. This year’s award recipients have dedicated countless hours to service efforts, which range from combatting food insecurity to supporting Native American tribes in North Carolina to offering positive birth experiences through doulas. Sponsored by the Carolina Center for Public Service, individuals and organizations representing students, faculty, staff and community partners, were honored March 30 for their efforts at the annual Public Service Awards celebration.

“The University’s three-part mission to research, educate and serve our local communities, state, nation and world is truly enhanced by our unwavering commitment to public service,” said Chancellor Carol Folt who presented the awards. “The recipients of this year’s Public Service Awards prove that public service and engaged scholarship enhance the research conducted, lessons taught and knowledge used to serve the public good at this University. I am incredibly proud to recognize the innovation, scholarship and dedication that each of today’s award recipients have displayed.”

Beverly Foster, clinical associate professor and director of undergraduate education in the School of Nursing, received the 2016 Ned Brooks Award for Public Service for more than 30 years of providing and supporting public service within UNC and across North Carolina. Dr. Foster remains active in many local and state agencies related to health and human services, having served for many years on the Orange County Board of Health and, as chair and member Healthy Carolinians in Orange County. At the state level she was appointed by the governor to the Healthy Carolinians Advisory Board and serves as board chair of the Foundation for Nursing Excellence. Her knowledge of public health and commitment to improving health outcomes created lasting impressions on the local and state levels.

The center also presented three Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Awards, which honor individuals and campus units for public service through engaged teaching, research and partnership.

Rhonda Lanning, clinical assistant professor in the School of Nursing, received the 2016 Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award for engaged teaching for her work on the Supporting the Childbearing Family course. In this course, students are paired with professional doulas to develop their skills and provide care to women and families at North Carolina Women’s Hospital. This course collaborates with UNC Birth Partners to serve more families, expanding to vulnerable populations such as incarcerated mothers, as well as women experiencing substance-use disorders and significant perinatal mood illnesses. Students who enrolled in this course conducted research that resulted in toolkits and workbooks used in the course and in the community.

Molly De Marco, research assistant professor of nutrition and project director in the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, received the 2016 Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award for engaged research. The U.S. Department of Agriculture funds SNAP-Ed UNC: Healthy Food for All in North Carolina project, which DeMarco directs, to provide nutrition education to people eligible for SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps) in six predominately rural North Carolina counties. Intervention activities include implementing 18 community gardens, working with three farmers’ markets to remove barriers to use of SNAP benefits and increasing summer meals sites.

The American Indian Center and North Carolina Tribal Nations, received the 2016 Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award for partnership. This award honors their partnership on successful efforts including the Healthy Native North Carolinians Network, NC Native Asset Coalition and NC Native Leadership Institute. These initiatives support sustainable community change to address the health and wellbeing of North Carolina tribal nations and foster unity across all tribes and American Indian communities in North Carolina. The American Indian Center’s mission is to bridge the richness of American Indian cultures with the strengths of Carolina’s research, education and service.

The Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award recognizes individual students and faculty for exemplary public service efforts. This year’s Bryan awards went to four individuals and one organization:

Gayatri Rathod ’16, a biology major in the College of Arts and Sciences from Charlotte received the 2016 Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award for work with Tar Heel TABLE, an organization that provides healthy, emergency food aid to hungry preschool, elementary and middle-school children living in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. In her two years as co-chair of Tar Heel TABLE, Rathod launched social media photo campaigns, food drives and news interviews to increase TABLE’s outreach and involvement. In all of her efforts, Rathod has emphasized involvement in TABLE with the hope of combatting hunger.

Catherine Schricker ’18 and Korry Tauber ‘18, both graduate students in the School of Dentistry, received the 2016 Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award for their work with North Carolina Missions of Mercy (NCMOM) Patient Oral Health Education Program. Tauber and Schricker created and implemented an oral health educational program to supplement the North Carolina Dental Society’s portable free dental clinic. They collaborated with community partners and UNC faculty mentors to develop their oral health education program, which is now a permanent component of the NCMOM clinics. Student volunteers provide personalized dental health instruction using visual aids in combination with interactive demonstrations.

Christopher Wallace, program coordinator at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture & History, received the 2016 Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award for his work with the Communiversity Youth Program. Communiversity draws on existing UNC resources and coordinates them so they can serve local children more effectively. The program exposes kindergarten through fifth-grade students to a college environment and provides them with academic and cultural tools to improve their performance in the classroom, social outlook and likelihood of success in a college environment.

Josh Hinson, clinical assistant professor in the School of Social Work, received the 2016 Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award for his work on UNC Global Transmigration – Refugee Mental Health and Wellness Initiative. This project began by training graduate students to use an evidence-based refugee mental health screening instrument and collect data on the extent of refugees’ mental health needs and the effectiveness of mental health treatment. In 2015, Refugee Wellness began contracting with the North Carolina Division of Health and Human Services’ Refugee Office to provide mental health services to refugees throughout Wake, Durham and Orange counties.

Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC) received the 2016 Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award for its work as a student-led organization whose mission is to provide free health services to local, underserved individuals and communities; partner with communities to develop and implement sustainable health programs; and create an interdisciplinary service-learning environment for students in the health science programs at UNC. Established in 1967, SHAC operates weekly interdisciplinary acute medical and dental clinics, as well as chronic care and referral services and home health services. SHAC serves more than 1,100 patients annually through these clinical services.

In addition to these public service awards, several other groups were recognized including six Bryan Fellowship teams involving 26 students, seven Community Engagement Fellowship projects created by eight students, the recipient of the 2016 Mingma Norbu Sherpa Fellowship, two students who received the Davis Projects for Peace Award, and 10 North Carolina Outward Bound scholarship recipients.

The Bryan Fellowship is designed for undergraduate aspiring social change-makers who are interested in providing a significant contribution locally, nationally or internationally through the creation of an entrepreneurial project that addresses a community issue or need. Fellows receive up to $1,500 to launch their project, access to professional development funds, support from APPLES students and staff, and invaluable leadership training and personal development.

The Community Engagement Fellowship awards up to $2,000 each year to selected graduate and professional students to develop and implement engagement or engaged scholarship projects that employ innovative, sustainable approaches to complex social needs and have an academic connection.

The Mingma Norbu Sherpa Fellowship is named for the late Mingma Norbu Sherpa, a pioneering conservationist in the Himalaya who served as an official with the World Wildlife Fund. The fellowship provides $1,250 to support a student conducting field work independently or in cooperation with an organization.

The Davis Projects for Peace Award, funded by the late philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis, provides $10,000 to support a grassroots project for summer implementation.

Each year, 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 program and the School of Education. Recipients receive full tuition to a 28-day course at the North Carolina Outward Bound School.

– Carolina –

An alternative spring break

By Brandon Bieltz and video by Carly Swain, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Sally-Irene Ngeve could have spent her spring break almost anywhere.

But the Carolina senior chose not to relax on a beach all week, wander around a quieter Chapel Hill or head back home to Cameroon to visit her family.

Instead, she spent her time off providing much-needed assistance to the people of Robeson County — a rural community that has struggled with unemployment, homelessness and hunger for the past six decades.

“Helping is my passion,” Ngeve said. “I love helping. I’ll do anything to just help the next person.”

Ngeve was just one of the hundreds of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students who used their spring break to help needy communities within the state, throughout the nation and around the world.

2016 ASB Robeson County CaptureFive of those alternative spring break trips — including the one to Robeson County — came from the Critical Approaches to Service Learning course in the Carolina Center for Public Service’s APPLES Service-Learning program, which sends students out into various communities to see firsthand the wide range of issues impacting citizens.

“Students go into this initially wanting to really help the community and wanting to do good,” said Eyerusalem Tessema, a graduate instructor of Critical Approaches to Service-Learning. “Through the class and the trip, they realize that this is really a learning experience for them, and whatever they do is going to be really small. They will do service, but I think its more of engaging in the community and learning things from their perspectives and not just taking whatever you read.”

For the class, students were divided into five different trips that focused on civil rights in Birmingham; disaster relief in Georgetown, South Carolina; Latino communities throughout North Carolina; rural communities in Robeson County; and urban communities in Atlanta.

Students then visited community centers, met with local leaders and immersed themselves in the communities through service projects to better understand the economic and social factors affecting residents.

For Ngeve and her group in Robeson, that meant closely working with the Lumbee tribe and learning to navigate a rural community that is split evenly between white, black and Native American citizens.

“Robeson County is home, and it’s growing, but some of the issues are still the same as they were when this center started in 1969,” said Darlene Jacobs, executive director at Robeson County Church and Community Center. “The issue of hunger is even more, homelessness has grown, unemployment is higher than the state’s, 56 percent of our children are living in single-parent homes, and the number one industry is welfare. There are a lot of issues here.”

The Carolina students began the trip with ideas of what could be fixed and who needed help, but they quickly learned that their preconceived notions of the area didn’t align with the truth.

While presenting college readiness programs to high school students, it became clear that although the towns have their struggles, the idea of moving away isn’t an option — or desire — for many of the youngsters.

“The community is incredibly close knit,” said Dylan Cohen, student-leader of the trip to Robeson County. “Because it’s such a close-knit community, people don’t feel they need to leave. The argument we were planning on making of ‘Here’s how you can go to a nice big city and make a whole lot of money’ is not what they wanted to hear. They want to hear how to make it work here in their hometown.”

As the week went on, the group began to better understand the community and its actual needs versus its perceived needs. A common concern of residents, Cohen said, was diabetes and childhood obesity.

“Their access to healthy food is abysmal,” he said. “Access to healthy local food is not feasible, and with that comes a lot of health issues.”

After returning to Chapel Hill, students will use their experiences from the trips to develop plans to solve the real, complex problems they saw. But the groups also made sure to care for some short-term issues while they were out in the communities.

“The students are wonderful,” Jacobs said. “They are out doing what we would do ourselves but we can’t. They’re our hands and feet in the community. It’s a win-win for so many people — not only for us, but also for the client, as well as for themselves. I think it’s a really powerful statement to be able to go out into the community and make a difference in their lives.”

In Robeson County, the group of students spent a full day building a wheelchair ramp for Anne McNabb, a local resident that had spent the past four months away from home recovering from a broken leg. Without the ramp, McNabb wouldn’t have been able to come home.

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing,” McNabb said. “It teaches them a lot about life and shows that they care about people. A lot of people aren’t that way today. It uplifts me.”

At the end of the day, Cohen said, making sure people like McNabb received the help they needed was more important than any other spring break trip the group could have taken.

“What’s valuable for this group of students and for myself, we take a lot more joy out of providing joy to other people than to maybe going to see something new ourselves,” he said.

2016 APPLES Service-Learning Award recipients honored

By Janell Smith

Each year, APPLES presents the APPLES Service-Learning Awards is to celebrate those who sustain service-learning at UNC.

2016 APPLES awards recipientsFour individuals, Luis Acosta, Sarah Dempsey, Alexandra Zagbayou and Mae B. McLendon, and one community partner, and Farmer Foodshare, were recognized at the annual APPLES Service-Learning Award Brunch for their on-going efforts to connect academic and service-based pursuits through their involvement with APPLES.

Leslie Parkins, senior program officer at the Carolina Center for Public Service, said the five APPLES Award recipients have made significant contributions to service-learning and support to APPLES.
“I think it is very important to recognize these individuals, how they’re shaping the community and building strong organizations and being the change we want to see in the world,” Parkins said.

“They continue to build a strong foundation for service-learning at Carolina that challenges all to do better every year. Their involvement, along with the University’s commitment, will ensure that APPLES continues to connect with communities for years to come.”

cropped Luis Acosta awardLuis Acosta – Undergraduate Excellence Award
Luis Acosta, a junior Chemistry and Global Studies major, received the Undergraduate Excellence Award for his involvement in the S.O.A.R. program at McDougle Middle School. For three years, Acosta has brought science-based opportunities to Latino students through his work with S.O.A.R.

When accepting his award, Acosta emphasized the importance of giving back to the community, especially to younger children. “I am really involved in the Boys and Girls Club back home,” he said. “The impact that we, as older people, have on kids is tremendous.”

Sarah Dempsey – Teaching Excellence Award
Dr. Sarah Dempsey, associate professor in the Department of Communication, was honored for her excellence in teaching service-learning courses. Since 2011, Dempsey’s service-learning courses Communication and Nonprofits and Globalizing Organizations have been offered six times and have partnered with the Carolina Campus Community Garden (CCCG).

Dempsey said receiving the Teaching Excellence Award was a huge honor. “Doing engaged scholarship with my students is one of the most rewarding things that I do.”

Mae B. McLendon – Service-Learning Award in honor of Ned Brooks
Mae B. McLendon was awarded for her career of public service in both government and community-based organizations. McLendon serves as the volunteer services coordinator at Durham County Cooperative Extension, and has worked with the North Carolina Department of Correction, the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service (IFC), Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Habitat for Humanity of Orange County.

McLendon received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from UNC in 1973 and a master’s degree in social work in 1977. During the course of her career, she has worked with APPLES service-learning students and interns in nearly each position she held.

Lynn Blanchard, director of the Carolina Center for Public Service, presented McLendon the award on the behalf of Ned Brooks.

“Aristotle says, ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.’ For Mae McLendon, she has made more than just a habit of public service, but a lifelong career of excellence in bettering the community,” Blanchard said about McLendon.

Cropped Alex Zagbayou awardAlexandra Zagbayou – Outstanding Alumni Award
Alexandra Zagbayou graduated from UNC in 2009 with a degree in International Studies and minor in Social and Economic Justice. Since graduation, she has worked with Student U, a college access and success program in Durham. She is the founding director of the high School program and currently serves as the chief program officer.

Zagbayou was recognized for her efforts surrounding sustainable partnerships, student leadership and equity and access in education. She has stayed connected to APPLES through service on the advisory board, as an alumni speaker and supporter of this work.

At the awards brunch, Zagbayou shared what APPLES taught her over the years: how to work with the community, the power of voice and agency and the importance of investment in people.

“One of the reasons I really love APPLES is the amount of care that is poured into the lives of its students, which then overflows into the community that they care about,” Zagbayou said.

Robyn Fehrman presented the Outstanding Alumni Award to Zagbayou. “Her contributions to her community will continue and they certainly started as an APPLES organizer.”

Farmer Foodshare – Community Partner Excellence Award
Farmer Foodshare creates paths to food independence for food insecure and malnourished North Carolinians. The organization provides fresh, local food to food insecure community members while building healthy community food systems and enhancing community economic development through job creation in food enterprises.

Farmer Foodshare was honored because of its long-standing partnership with APPLES, hosting interns and volunteers from service-learning courses since 2012. This sustained partnership has provided students with meaningful learning opportunities that impact the community through food systems.

Maggie West, program coordinator at Community Empowerment Fund and the recipient of the 2015 APPLES’ Community Partner Excellence Award, presented the award to Farmer Foodshare.

She said the ripples of the service-learning go beyond Carolina and impact every part of people’s lives. “The ripples of this work never cease.”

Faculty Engaged Scholar serves to help seniors maintain mobility

By Janell Smith

Vicki Mercer FES Champ and clientThrough a combination of community engagement and experiential education opportunities, Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars become champions of their research. Vicki Mercer, associate professor in the Department of Allied Health Sciences and a member of Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars class V, also supports champions through her falls prevention program, CHAMP (Community Health and Mobility Partnership).

This project helps older adults and individuals with disabilities remain as active and independent as possible. The program was the first of its kind to advance home care excellence for older adults.

Mercer has been involved with clinical practice in physical therapy for most of her career. It was her experience working with older adult patients, who are worried about falling and other mobility concerns, which inspired her to create this initiative.

“This fear [of falling] causes [some older adults] to restrict their activities, and can lead to a downward spiral of decreased activity, worsening strength and balance, increased risk of falling and greater activity restriction,” Mercer said. “The individual may stop participating in activities with family and friends and may venture out into the community only rarely.”

She added that this fear not only restricts activities, but has negative consequences for overall health and quality of life.

“I am passionate about trying to help older adults remain as active and independent as possible throughout their lives, helping them to really ‘live’ as long as they are living.”

The CHAMP program works with community partners, including senior centers, hospitals, physical therapy clinics, universities and community colleges in McDowell, Caldwell and Watauga counties in western North Carolina.

Weyland Prebor, director of the McDowell Senior Center, is a partner of the CHAMP project. He said that Mercer and the CHAMP initiative have been good medicine for McDowell County, encouraging the community to play an active part in their health.

“By bringing the CHAMP program to our community, Dr. Mercer has helped seniors become proactive in preventing their own fall injuries,” Prebor said. “Dr. Mercer has changed the lives of hundreds of senior adults in McDowell County helping them to take ownership in their own strength and mobility.”

Mercer used funds provided by the Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars program at the Carolina Center for Public Service to expand the program into Caldwell County after it received accolades in nearby McDowell County. Plans are for the program expand to other counties, including Cumberland and Hoke.

“The program specifically targets more rural areas that may not have resources for fall prevention interventions,” Mercer added.

Established in 2009, CHAMP has been well received by communities and lasted long after its initial grant funding ended. In 2010, the initiative won 2010 Outstanding County Program Award from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. Mercer said this success and longevity demonstrates the commitment of its community partners. It also serves as an example to her students, who she hopes will develop a commitment to the individuals they serve and to lifelong learning.

“This is a wonderful synergy,” Mercer said about the community and classroom engagement.

“I have been blessed to find a career that I love (physical therapy), and I want to live out the mission of the physical therapy profession by working to enhance physical health and functional abilities among all people, including those who might have limited resources or limited access to health care.”

APPLES service-learning class and volunteer doulas partner on better births

An APPLES service-learning class at Carolina partners with volunteer doulas at N.C. Women’s Hospital to enhance students’ educational experiences and better serve women delivering babies at UNC.

From UNC Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology

Joya Bland’s dream is to deliver babies.

A recent Carolina graduate, she’s getting a master’s degree in physiology at North Carolina State University and preparing to apply to medical school. After that, she’ll seek a residency in obstetrics and gynecology.

And though there are years between Bland and those babies, she’s no stranger to what a birthing mother needs. As a volunteer doula at UNC Hospitals, Bland has supported women through 12 hours of nonstop labor, held their hands through contractions and explained increasingly intense stages of labor with words of comfort and encouragement.

Learning how to dial into the patient side of childbirth before becoming a physician was Bland’s mission when, as a women’s and gender studies major at UNC in 2014, she signed up for an innovative APPLES service-learning class at the UNC School of Nursing that matches volunteer doulas at UNC Hospitals with Carolina students to offer a unique experience in patient-centered care.


Having the opportunity to attend births as part of her undergraduate curriculum is something Bland describes as “life-enhancing.”

For the first birth Bland attended as a student, she stepped in for the last 12 hours of a labor already 36 hours long. By the time Bland entered the room, the mother was tired and weary, exhausted and worried. The family needed support, too.

“While the doctor and nurse treated her, I was there to remind her that she was doing fine, to help her change position in bed, breathe with her, help her get comfortable and encourage her to rest so she would have strength to push,” said Bland. “I didn’t leave her side. I kept reminding her that soon she’d be holding her baby, and I helped her keep going.”

A unique model of education and care

Birth doulas aren’t clinicians – they are professionally trained birth companions who can offer physical and emotional support to the woman laboring and her family. Their presence can help women cope with pain, provide non-medical assistance to the mother and her family and take some of the burden off nurses who are providing treatment and might not have time to stop and soothe.

Doulas provide educational and emotional support during labor and birth, helping mothers navigate their way through the unique experience of childbirth. They offer suggestions to help labor progress – walking, the use of a birthing ball, relaxing in the tub. If the patient has had an epidural, a doula can help her change position to help the baby move down the birth canal.

And, at N.C. Women’s Hospital, laboring women can benefit from the support and care of a doula free of charge, courtesy of the Birth Partners volunteer doula program. More and more women are choosing to request their support.

“Not a lot of hospitals have this. It’s pretty unique to have doulas in a public hospital environment,” said Rhonda Lanning, a certified nurse midwife and faculty member at the School of Nursing who runs Birth Partners, the growing volunteer doula program, and teaches “Supporting the Childbearing Family,” the APPLES service-learning course that brings together the doulas and students for an immersive hands-on educational experience. “This fall we tripled the number of families served in the Birth Partners program and this is largely due to our service-learning course.”

The class, made possible with a grant from the Carolina Center for Public Service, is offered once a year, and Lanning accepts between 12 and 16 students from a pool of nearly 60 applications. She builds the class with a diversity of academic disciplines, backgrounds, interests and experiences and spends the first few weeks of class on childbirth and breastfeeding education as well as formal doula training. When they’re ready, students are paired with one of the volunteer doulas and work under that mentor to begin attending births. As part of the APPLES requirements, the students must put in 30 hours of service as a volunteer.


Brooklynne Travis is a senior in the School of Nursing who plans on pursuing training in a dual doctor of nursing practice and certified nurse midwife program following graduation in May 2016. She said Lanning’s class this past fall helped her focus her career goals by allowing her to explore how she felt about childbirth.

“This class was a great way for me to engage more specifically in women’s health in addition to the other maternity classes I took in nursing school,” said Travis. “It was a very good hands-on experience and helped me formulate concretely what I felt about birth and learn about birth from an evidence-based perspective.”

Travis has three children of her own and said that she’d not had positive birth experiences. By being a doula, she got a chance to see women’s bodies at work, something she said was healing for her and helped solidified her passion to become a midwife.

“Midwifery supports women’s bodies to do what they are designed to do, and being empowered to let your body do what it is designed to do is what I believe about birth. I was able to see that we can support and help advance that birth process as a doula in the hospital where, if there is a problem, modern medicine can very quickly come to the rescue.”

During one birth she attended as part of the class, Travis noticed fear in the husband’s eyes after his wife’s water had broken. She was able to calm him, telling him that the water breaking was a good sign – his wife’s body was progressing the way it should, and though it was intense, he didn’t need to be scared.

“Through this class, I’ve been able to see birth as something that is very hard, but can be very beautiful. I’d never experienced a peaceful birth until I was a doula,” said Travis. “Being a doula has given me back a lot of perspective, and now I know midwifery is what I’m called to do.”

Benefits based in evidence

People have undervalued the measures doulas provide, said Lanning, even though research shows that the use of a doula has clear benefits for families during childbirth and after, with no known risks.

A 2013 review published in The Cochrane Library revealed that women who have support from a companion who is neither a member of the hospital staff nor a friend or family member are less likely to have a cesarean section, use synthetic oxytocin to speed labor, use pain medication or report a negative childbirth experience than women who labor alone.

Birth Partners makes it part of their mission to reach out to vulnerable populations: women who are laboring alone, women with a long hospital stay prior to birth, women experiencing a loss or the incarcerated.

“Incarcerated women are giving birth alone, and they deserve that care,” said Lanning. Lanning has a letter from the Department of Corrections that affirms Birth Partners’ goal to offer that support to incarcerated women.

Lanning said there are always pros and cons with bringing students into a volunteer program, because they come and they go. But, “they come with such enthusiasm, passion, energy and optimism,” she said.

“This is an opportunity for future health care providers to think about the patient care environment and work with patients and families to provide comfort and support and education, which often takes a back seat to diagnosing, treating and medicating. Here, they really get the value of patient-centered care, and we hope they take that back to their medical or nursing school experiences.”

APPLES participant receives Campus Compact outstanding leadership and service award

By Janell Smith

Jose Cisneros Campus Compact 151107awards123Nearly 100 students and staff from more than 20 campuses across North Carolina came together to celebrate the impact of 21 civically-engaged students.

Among the 21 students honored was APPLES Service-Learning participant José Cisneros ‘17.

“University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill junior José Cisneros has been recognized for outstanding leadership and service by North Carolina Campus Compact, a statewide network of colleges and universities with a shared commitment to community engagement,” said Chad Fogleman, assistant director of North Carolina Campus Compact.

Cisneros was recognized for his tireless efforts to improve the opportunities of Latinos.

He recently spent his summer as a government relations intern at Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF) through the APPLES Internship program, coordinating lobbying events and meetings with North Carolina state legislators where he and others advocated for the rights farmworkers and undocumented students.

In spring 2015, Cisneros also participated in the APPLES Global Guanajuato course and alternative spring break experience through which he researched and worked with migrants in North Carolina and migrants’ home communities in Guanajuato, Mexico.

In addition to his involvement with APPLES, Cisneros serves as site and program coordinator with the Scholars Latino Initiative, a university-based program that empowers the next generation of Latina/o leaders by promoting academic excellence and social responsibility.

“Through his example, he has also inspired his peers to become mentors who, like Cisneros, serve mentees with dedication and compassion,” said Fogleman.

Cisneros added that his passion for service was inspired by his own personal connections.

“The lessons I’ve learned and the people I’ve [met] have certainly left a mark on me, and I want to continue to work for a better, more equal society.”