First-Year students immersed in service through SLI

SLI 2015 CCCGIn the days before classes began in the fall of 2003, 11 UNC first-year students gathered for a day of service work in the Chapel Hill community. Twelve years later, the Service-Learning Initiative (SLI) continues to make an impact on the community.

With the largest SLI to date, 60 first-year and transfer students worked with eight community partners from Aug. 12-14 doing everything from working on the trails at Battle Park to harvesting tomatoes and planting kale at Anathoth Community Garden.

Offered through the APPLES Service-Learning program and part of the Carolina Center for Public Service, SLI is a unique student-led orientation to service-learning that provides incoming first-year and transfer students with an immersive introduction to the array of service opportunities in and around Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Each year, over three days in the week before classes start, participants learn about and work with APPLES community partners, become more aware of local issues, form lasting friendships with other engaged students and are introduced to reflection as a tool for making meaning out of service experiences.

SLI 2015 George (Heavenly Groceries) and Jamie Dorrier“I wanted to participate in [SLI] because it seemed like a great opportunity to connect to the Carolina community before college even started,” said Jamie Dorrier, a first-year student from Raleigh, North Carolina. “I was also excited for the opportunity to meet new people at SLI with whom I shared a common interest of service. I am hoping that the service I participate in, whether through SLI or later in my college career, will help me give back to the Carolina community.”

Mirroring the University’s new theme “Food for All: Local and Global Perspectives,” which focuses on resolving food issues throughout the world and kicks off this month, this year’s SLI will emphasize food security in the local community. SLI co-chair Edward Diaz said, “We will be working with organizations that deal with this issue as well as hosting guest speakers from various organizations that deal with food insecurity in Chapel Hill.”

Edward and Courtney at Battle ParkIn addition to a new theme, SLI co-chair Courtney Bain explained other changes. “This year, the program has grown which allows us to reach out to more incoming students and also include additional sites in the area, further strengthening our partnerships in the community.”

The 60 SLI participants and 18 site leaders worked with Battle Park, Club Nova, ARC of the Triangle, Helping Hand, Carolina Campus Community Garden, TABLE, Anathoth Community Garden and SECU Family House on a variety of service projects.

“We love to have students work with us because it combines the efforts of the university and the community. It gets them outside the university bubble,” said George Barrett, associate director of Organizing and Advocacy at Heavenly Groceries in Chapel Hill. “It’s great to see how students connect with the community. They make some great inter-generational connections and bond to do good work.”

Expressing her passion for service, Bain added, “APPLES has had a tremendous impact on my Carolina life from introducing me to the world of service opportunities in the community to providing me with the chance to hold a leadership position for the program I love the most.”

During SLI, participants are also introduced to other campus and community service organizations and become connected with a network of current students who may help in their transition to Carolina. Many SLI participants become involved with other components of the APPLES Service-Learning program or choose to be involved with planning and leading SLI for future classes of incoming students. Since the program’s inception in 2003, 854 students have participated. All focused on a common goal: immerse themselves in service at Carolina.

“I am involved with SLI and APPLES because I have seen firsthand the difference it has made [with] students in the Carolina community,” Diaz said. “I love seeing how students who have participated in SLI become involved with the organizations we work with.”

APPLES intern lobbies for farmworkers and undocumented students

By Leona Amosah

Jose at the GAFrom the green tobacco fields of North Carolina to the halls of the North Carolina General Assembly, José Cisneros ’17, a history and economics major from Snow Hill, North Carolina, has worked hard to not only understand the plight of rural farm workers but also to diligently advocate on behalf of North Carolina’s undocumented students. This summer, Cisneros worked with Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF) as an APPLES Service-Learning intern through the Carolina Center for Public Service (CCPS).

Cisneros’ interest in SAF grew from a personal connection he had with the organization’s line of work. “My mother grew up on a farm in rural Mexico, where she worked every day the first 16 years of her life. When we moved to the U.S., she continued to do farm work in North Carolina’s tobacco and sweet potato fields for seven years, and I also worked in tobacco during the summer when I was in high school,” said Cisneros. “From the fields, I learned so much about life, family and perseverance. I wanted to get involved in the farmworker movement in order to learn more about social justice and be able to do something positive for the Hispanic community.”

APPLES intern Jose Cisneros Undocugraduation Lobbying DayCisneros was introduced to public service at Carolina through the First-Year Service Corps, also offered through CCPS. As an APPLES intern with SAF, Cisneros coordinated lobbying events and meetings with North Carolina senators and representatives. He also advocated for farmworkers and the Hispanic community in North Carolina and participated in the SAF Into the Fields Theater Group, which performed a play about alcoholism and alternate ways to deal with depression and isolation.

“The best thing about my internship is the growth that I’ve experienced as a leader and advocate,” Cisneros said. ”At first, I was very intimidated and even scared to be in a place with so many powerful and influential men and women. However, I have learned to not be afraid and to have a voice in order to have a bigger impact and advocate more effectively. 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.”

Summer of Service photo contest

APPLES intern Caroyn Ebeling East Coast Greenway Alliance 1UNC students do great things during the summer – and great things in service. In celebration of that work, the Carolina Center for Public Service would like to share what you did this summer in service.

WHAT: Summer of Service photo contest. Did you work with a community organization or engage in service in a meaningful way this summer? If so, we invite you to share photos of how you spent your summer in service

WHO: All UNC students who engaged in public service during the summer are invited to share their service photos.

WHEN: Starting July 17 through Aug. 18, 2015, students may submit and share their photos.

HOW: UNC students should tweet their Summer of Service photos to @UNCServes with the hashtag #uncserves. APPLES Service-Learning (@UNC_APPLES) and Buckley Public Service Scholars (@ServiceScholars) will retweet photos. Photos can also be sent to to be tweeted by the Carolina Center for Public Service. High resolution and action photos are best (action photos are defined as anything that shows the student/organization actively engaged in a service-oriented task/project). Please make sure to review any policies and procedures about photographing your work with your supervisor and have a signed photos release/authorization where necessary.

EXTRA: We know UNC students do amazing things in service and we are excited to share your experiences. One photo will be selected the first week of classes and the winning student will receive a $20 gift certificate to UNC Student Stores. The winning photo will also be posted to the CCPS website.

Questions? Contact We look forward to seeing how you spent your summer in service!

APPLES intern works with community partner to share message and vision

APPLES intern Caroyn Ebeling East Coast Greenway Alliance 1

By Elise Dilday

A narrow pedestrian bridge stretches across Interstate 40, breaking up the monotony of green exit signs and asphalt.

This bridge, part of the American Tobacco Trail that extends throughout the Triangle, is also part of the larger East Coast Greenway, a 2,900-mile greenway system stretching from Maine to Florida. Carolyn Ebeling ‘17 is currently completing an APPLES summer internship with the nonprofit organization that oversees the maintenance of this greenway, the East Coast Greenway Alliance (ECGA).

Ebeling was first introduced to APPLES when she enrolled in a public relations service-learning course. With a background in women’s studies, Ebeling did not go into her summer internship with extensive knowledge of greenways. She had never heard of the ECGA before applying, but once she did, it quickly became her first choice.

“I wanted to know more about their goal and how they planned to achieve it,” Ebeling said.

Ebeling’s work includes managing the Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts for the Alliance, where she posts about ECGA events. This summer the Alliance is partnering with two youth cycling groups – Triangle Bicycle Works and BRAG (Bike Ride Across Georgia) – that are embarking July 11 on a bicycle tour of the Gullah Geechee Historic Corridor that extends along the coast of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
“The ride is about 770 miles and will take two weeks, and we are doing a lot of press and preparing for that,” Ebeling said.

APPLES intern Caroyn Ebeling East Coast Greenway Alliance 3She also shared that her prior communications experience helps her in this internship. “I feel that communications is one aspect that really allows people to connect with the trail and understand everything that goes into creating a 2,900 mile off-road trail.

“I feel like I am helping the Alliance get its message and vision out to people who may not know about it otherwise.”

Ebeling is interested in pursuing work in the nonprofit sector after graduation. Although she has been most interested in working with a women’s center or rape crisis center in the future, she is now considering working for an environmental nonprofit after her experience this summer.

“I really like the close-knit environment and passion that everyone has for their work,” she said.

Community partners interested in hosting an intern can apply through the APPLES Service-Learning program. Students can apply for spring and summer internships in the fall semester. To learn more about APPLES internships, visit APPLES online.

Students award funds to local nonprofits

By Laura Fisher

Each sDSC_0313pring, a group of UNC students gather in class to learn about philanthropy through the process of awarding $10,000 in grants to local nonprofits that promote health and quality of life in North Carolina communities. In the three-credit hour service-learning course Philanthropy as a Tool for Social Change, students in the Buckley Public Service Scholars program create IMPACT NC, a student-run board that teaches participants about the grant-making process, including researching needs in North Carolina communities, designing grant award criteria, reviewing submissions and ultimately awarding $10,000 to between one and five organizations. The course, offer by the Carolina Center for Public Service and funded by the Learning by Giving Program, is a nationwide program that promotes the study of philanthropy among undergraduates, encouraging them to become thoughtful and effective community leaders.

After learning about the local nonprofit sector through course reading, class exercises and guest speakers, students identify underrepresented populations that they wish to serve through the grant-making process. Students create requests for proposals and review submissions from local nonprofits. At the end of the semester, a final allocation decision is made based on the mission of the nonprofits as well as the impact and requirements of their suggested projects. With $10,000, the student board has the resources to support impactful projects across North Carolina.

“This class has taught me how to be a careful and educated giver so that I can ensure that my donations are being utilized in the most effective ways,” said T.J. Wong ’15, a student in the service-learning course. “It has also given me a genuine sense of fulfillment by providing me with an opportunity to address some of the real issues that communities in North Carolina face.”

This year, four organizations received grants:

  • The Art Therapy Institute received $2,500 to support group art therapy to 33 uninsured refugee students aimed at improving mental health and psychosocial functioning.
  • Communities In Schools of Chatham County (CISCC) received $2,311 to expand its Youth Garden’s activities to include year-­round plant production.
  • Piedmont Health Services, Inc. received $2,433 to purchase mobile equipment to provide children’s dental health services at four community health centers in Alamance County.
  • Vidas de Esperanza received $3,000 to purchase computers and dental supplies free Dental Health Clinic in Siler City, North Carolina.

The course is taught by Lynn Blanchard, director of the Carolina Center for Public Service. Blanchard’s background is in education as well as policy, and she has experience directing various community initiatives on both a local and national scale.

Nonprofits interested in the grant application must be 501(C)(3) organizations focused on developing healthy families and communities in underserved populations of Orange, Durham, Chatham, Alamance, Person or Caswell counties. Priority is given to those focused on food security, access to care, health promotion and/or mental health. The next grant period will open in the spring of 2016.

Eleventh class of Buckley Public Service Scholars honored at graduation event

Three hundred and six members of the class of 2015 were honored as Buckley Public Service Scholars (BPSS) May 8 at a pre-graduation ceremony in Memorial Hall, recognizing the scholars for their years of service at Carolina during their undergraduate careers. To represent their achievement, all graduates will receive a Carolina blue and white cord to wear at commencement on May 10.

Francis Camden 3The program, part of the Carolina Center for Public Service, supports and strengthens Carolina students’ commitment to service by providing students 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, 10 percent of Carolina undergraduates are currently enrolled as BPSS participants. The 2015 class of Buckley Public Service Scholars represent 48 of North Carolina’s counties as well as 24 other states and four other countries. The students being honored join the 1,628 past Buckley Public Service Scholars who have graduated since 2003, bringing the total number of scholars to 1,931.

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 and attend four skills-training workshops as well as complete a final reflection activity. A number of this year’s graduates surpassed these requirements, completing more than 430 hours of service on average. Six students reported more than 1,000 hours each, and one submitted more than 1,700 hours. As of April 2015, these graduating seniors provided more than 133,500 hours of service.

“Participating in the Buckley Public Service Scholars program expanded my views of the Chapel Hill community while fostering my own passion for social justice,” said Frederick Ferguson, a member of the 2015 graduating class of Buckley Public Service Scholars. “My leadership skills greatly improved through working with the Hargraves Community Center and the students there shaped my years at UNC.

“The BPSS program allowed to me to not only serve my community, but for my community to serve me. I now plan to spend the rest of my life living in service to others.”

Brown Kaylah 2Since its inception, 5,635 students have participated in the BPSS program, contributing 1.43 million hours of service. This year, participating students reported service with more than 1,000 organizations like UNC Hospitals, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, UNC Dance Marathon, Habitat for Humanity and Student U. Of the hours reported by this year’s graduates, 73 percent primarily benefited North Carolina, 13 percent other states and 14 percent other countries.

“Each year, the graduating class of Buckley Public Service Scholars demonstrate the incredible scope and depth of public service and community engagement that is being done at Carolina,” said Lynn Blanchard, director of the Carolina Center for Public Service. “These seniors have taken public service to new heights through their commitment to serving communities locally, nationally and abroad. They have served an untold number of communities in extraordinary ways and we are extremely proud of what they have accomplished. Moreover, we look forward to seeing the many ways in which these students continue their commitment to public service beyond graduation.”

BPSS is supported through the Walter White Buckley Jr. Endowment. The Center offers a variety of programs that support public service and engagement, providing students, faculty and staff many ways to explore service opportunities, learn new skills and link their academic endeavors to making a difference in the community. For more information about each Buckley Public Service Scholar, visit

Carolina Center for Public Service contact: Rhonda Beatty (919) 843-7568,

2015 Buckley Public Service Scholar graduates by county, state and country. Photos available by request.

Alamance: Erica Bluford, Becca Conary, Raleigh McCoy, Sarah Menz, Sophia Schermerhorn

Bladen: Brittany Hollis

Brunswick: Anna Zeng

Buncombe: Natalie Broadway, Melissa Brown, Mary Everist, Kaitlin Floyd, Paul Parker, Hannah Robinson, Ryan Smith, Cabarrus, Ciara Davis, Erika Lessane, Jasmine Plott, Carteret, Jordan Budget

Catawba: Celia Clark, Rebekah Sturgess

Chatham: Ashley Cairns, Danielle Helgans, Elizabeth Raines, Ramy Sugg

Cherokee: Jennifer Owenby

Cleveland: Megan Eaker

Craven: Aleksander Seymore

Cumberland: Sarah Browning, Casey Collins, Khristian Curry, Dylané Davis, Daron Holman, Meredith Shutt, Jassmin Smith

Davie: Katherine Davis

Duplin: Stephanie Crawford

Durham: Maura Ashton, Cameron Dubois, Sarvani Gandhavadi, Brooke Gardner, Krista Katzenmeyer, Katherine Koller, Sarah Lauffer, Bridget McDonough, Camille Romac-Gullo

Edgecombe: Caroline Leland

Forsyth: Maegan Becker, Cameron Casey, Alexis Duckett, Camden Francis, Wes Hodgin, Margaret Latta, Alice Martin, Nastassja Ortiz, Meghan Peddycord, Victoria Plybon

Gaston: Peter Carter, Reena Gupta, Andrew Nguyen

Guilford: Charity Azorlibu, Frederick Ferguson, Zaharaddeen Garba, Rachel Gentry, Laura Hanson, Sarah Hanson, Paola Isaac Ibe, Madeline Kirby, Kimberly McCullough, Jennell Mcintosh, Dennise Osei-Bonsu, Sotires Pagiavlas, Gabrielle Scott, Neha Verma, Stephanie Wardman, Julia Whitley

Halifax: Ronnell Green, Melanie Lockamon

Harnett: Nakiya Whitfield

Henderson: Joseph Cottingham, Eleanor Crane, Jaehee Yoo

Hertford: South Moore

Iredell: Corinne Goudreault, Persia Homesley, Nauman Panjwani, Courtney Sanders

Johnston: Jessica Carter, Olivia Stevens, Lauren Sutton

Lenoir: Alexander Frankfort

Lincoln: Jamison Zink

Mecklenburg: Cassandra Addamo, Imani Augustus, Adriann Bennett, Monica Bourommavong, Timarie Chan, Tammy Chen, LaCorey Cunningham, Tashana Detwiler, Calvary Diggs, Taylor Fish, Amanda Gaffey, Victoria Ghahhari, Radhika Ghodasara, Megan Hunstad, India Jenkins, Elizabeth Johnson, Shannon Kirchmer, Ishna Koul, Maili Lim, Emmanuella Mensah, Sara Miles, Fahim Nasim, Walid Nasim, Timothy Parsons, Kunal Patel, Shyam Patel, Dominique Pearson, Sarah Pederson, Brianna Ratté, Caley Scheppegrell, Andrea Tam, Chuchitra Thanigaivasan, Madelyn Usher, Anhthu Vuong, Courtney Williams

Montgomery: Rosa Muñoz Aldape

Moore: Landon Sherwood

Nash: Ayat Soufan

New Hanover: Alejandra Galindo, Autumn Hester*, Hannah Jessen, Cassidy Maxwell, Sarah McCullough

Onslow: Tara Summerville, Rachel Tates

Orange: Hannah Allison, Kent Brouwer, Frances Chung, Abigail Dennison, Laura Gilland, Hana Haidar, Catherine Haviland, Janet Keku, Patrick Mateer, Christopher Mook, Kelly Pope, Katie Savage*, Chloe Stephenson, Melissa Tebaldi, Alissa Vanderlinden, Terry Wong, Yue Zhang, Fareeda Zikry

Pasquotank: Jasmin Singh

Person: Kristen Chambers, Amber Majors

Pitt: Kaylah Brown, Louise Mann Clement, Danielle Moloney, Daniela Pimentel

Randolph: Heather Shelton, Asma Warrich

Rowan: Andrea Lambert, Leslie Pence

Rutherford: Shakeia Burgin

Stokes: Ryan Joyce, Osvelia Valverde, Elizabeth Williard

Surry: Samantha McCormick

Union: Samantha Daily, Matthew Lee, Lauren Pritchard

Wake: Hussein Ahmad, Nicole Beatty, Kersey Begany*, William Bennett, Cody Blanton, Taylor Bogart, Erica Brownlow, Jenny Bui, Emerson Cardoso, Lauren Conder, Mackenzie Dolan, Cayce Dorrier, Amber Gautam, Peyton George, Winston George, Nitin Goel, Matthew Guan, Zakeria Haidary, Wilson Hayman, Isabella Higgins*, Jennifer Hiteshew, Lindsey Hooker, Austen Hughes, Karina Javalkar, Amanda Kramer, Catherine Lachapelle, Kate Leonard, Travis Linton, Sallie Lucas, Julia Lukacs, Rizul Naithani, Rani Patel, Olivia Perry, Kara Podraza, Anna Ramsey*, Raerani Reddy, Caitlin Riley, Sarah Spaltenstein, Shannon Spillane, Priya Sreenivasan, Hillary Stroud, Alyssa Townsend, Sara Wachtman, Sarah Ward, Alexandra Welsh, Alexis White, Brenna Yellin, Caroline Zullo

Watauga: Natalie Deuitch

Wayne: Morgan Jeffreys

Wilkes: Mitchell Nash

Yancey: Brittney King

United States
Alabama: Kristina Redd, Molly Williams

California: Sarah Thompson, Paris Vaughn, Frank Wu

Colorado: Casey Crow, Nisha Datta

Delaware: Lynslei Harris

Florida: Sanjana Bhat, Jessica Cabrera, Steven Hartman, Carol Knight, Carter McCormick, Emily Ruffin

Georgia: Kathleen Borden, Zineb Bouzoubaa, Avery Calhoun, Temitope Elutilo-Ayoola, Dakota Foard, Daniel Gehle, Sarah Grady, Katrina Lawrence, Ellen Lesser, Sarah McCauley, Ruhi Rahman, Kaitlin Shinn

Hawaii: Skylar La-Torre-Couch*

Illinois: Kendra Benner, Allison Madonia, Meredith Richard

Iowa: Amanda Sergesketter

Kansas: Gihani Dissanayake

Louisiana: Cheney Gardner

Maryland: Franck Azobou Tonleu, Connor Belson, Kane Borders, Nicholas Dillon, Katrina Hauprich, Charlotte Jackson, Justin Jones, Katherine Jordan, Griffin Lerner, Jennifer McCosby

Massachusetts: Joseph Dayaa, Brendan Leonard, Haniah Lerner

Michigan: Angelica Rankins

Missouri: Raquel Dominguez

New Jersey: Christina Cheng, Sonya Kowalczyk, Sonia Shah, Alyssa Vassallo

New York: Sarah Golan, Michelle Graziosi, Tasia Harris, Sarah Maclean, Paige Sferrazza

Ohio: Aditi Borde, Sarah Lamb, Randi Towns

Pennsylvania: Hannah Bucchin, Emily Cerciello, Alexandra Chir, Mary Liz Entwistle, Stephanie Hess, Zack Kaplan, Alexander Piasecki

South Carolina: Tianna Barnes, Joshua Ellis, Hannah Hollon, Anand Shah, Ellis Sojourner, Collin Williams

Tennessee: Emily Buzhardt, Mary Peeler

Texas: Christin Carpenter, Amish Parikh, Claire Porter

Virginia: Erin Shumate, Shannon Wheeler

Washington, D.C.: Danielle Allyn

Canada: Maximillian Seunik

China: Ziyou Wu

Philippines: Michael Strawser

United Kingdom: Bridget Larman

* Indicates December 2014 graduates.

First Arts in Public Service fellow graduates

By Janell Smith

Aditi BordeAditi Borde ‘15, like 306 other seniors, will graduate as a Buckley Public Service Scholars on May 8.

But Borde is different from the other scholars — she’s the only scholar to graduate from the program’s new Arts in Public Service Fellowship.

In 2014, the Buckley Public Service Scholars program and Carolina Performing Arts (CPA) partnered to create the Arts in Public Service Fellows, a program that encourages students to make a direct impact in their community through the arts.

During her time as an undergraduate student and scholar, Borde has done just that.

“Throughout my experiences of integrating art through public service, I realized art has much more power than it is given credit,” Borde said.

As the first Arts in Public Service Fellow, Borde has directly impacted many communities through her work with the arts. In the service-learning course Service-Learning in America: the Arts and Social Change, Borde engaged in arts-based activities worked with the Art Therapy Institute, an organization of mental health professionals dedicated to the healing power of the arts. Borde also led the first Arts in Public Service Fellows APPLES alternative break in Asheville and served as a volunteer with the Cary celebration of Diwali, a widely celebrated Hindu holiday known as the Festival of Lights. She also danced with UNC’s fusion dance team, Chapel Hill Chalkaa, and served as its president.

Borde said these experiences encouraged her to become a fellow. In her service at the Art Therapy Institute, for example, Borde watched as children used art as a means of self-expression.

“The children in the hospital used iPads to draw — art allowed them to express themselves, release emotions and even use it as a getaway to distract themselves from the reason they were in the hospital,” Borde said.

“Only based on this experience, I realized that the power of art was extraordinary.”

Borde added the Arts in Public Service provided her with unrivaled support from her peers and professors. She would love for other students to have similar experiences with the growth of the program.

“I hope it grows in that more people get involved in different kinds of arts — not only the ‘typical’ art genres,” she said.

“I hope that more theater, dance and creative writing arts students get involved because the most fun part of the fellowship was learning and experiencing the different genres of art that I had never been exposed to.”

Borde hopes her experience as an Arts in Public Service Fellow will allow her to incorporate the arts into her future career as well.

“I witnessed the arts being used as a therapeutic for children,” she said. “As a student going into medicine, I hope to find new ways to incorporate arts in the medical field.”

Bryan Social Innovation Fellow continues to create community

By Carly Swain

Reena-Gupta-spotlightReena Gupta, who will graduate Sunday with a degree in Public Policy from the College of Arts and Sciences, not only immersed herself in the Carolina community over the past four years, she helped create one — through Healthy Girls Save the World.

During her freshman year, Gupta joined the non-profit when it was in its infant stage. After the first few meetings, she jumped in to help create what is now a thriving organization by using three pillars: healthy bodies, healthy minds and healthy relationships.

She served on the board of directors and as campus chapter president of the organization, and has attained the goal she set for herself four years ago: to inspire women.

“I’ve always been really big on women’s empowerment, women’s issues, and really advocating social justice issues surrounding women’s rights,” she said. “As a woman of color, it’s something that I’ve always been passionate about. I have seen a few of the struggles, as I’m sure every woman has, and I wanted to learn more about it.”

When she first arrived at Carolina, Gupta considered studying political science and economics. But the daughter of two teachers from Belmont, North Carolina, had a passion for education. And after a little more exploring, she got a taste of public policy.

“For me personally, that public policy major at UNC was the perfect collaboration of political science and economics,” she said.

During her time at Carolina, Gupta earned a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, the Bryan Social Innovation Fellowship and she was a Resolution Project Fellow – all while also joining a few dance troupes on campus.

But one of her main focuses was Healthy Girls Save The World.

“It actually took me a while to understand my place and how I could help,” she said of her beginnings with the non-profit. “I remember the first time it clicked for me: we went to a business competition in Atlanta and we had to present. Once I presented, made the pitch and received the feedback, the wheels just started turning for me.”

With a pool of local sixth- to ninth-grade applicants from schools near UNC-Chapel Hill to choose from, Healthy Girls Save The World leaders select 40 to mentor through the academic year.

“We bring these girls on campus, introduce them to female role models, rely on School of Public Health to bring in subject matter experts and do all sorts of fun things with them,” Gupta said. “Our last event was focused on healthy relationships- team building- and after lunch we did healthy relationships with themselves.”

Once her tassel is turned Sunday, Gupta will head to San Francisco where she will complete the New Sector Alliance Residency in Social Enterprise (RISE) Fellowship. There, Gupta will be placed in a non-profit to work one-on-one with a mentor learning project management, finance and communication skills.

Part of the commitment means 1,700 hours of service with AmeriCorps. But Gupta will still serve on the board of advisors for Healthy Girls Save The World.

In that role, she hopes to continue to contribute to different communities.

“There are so many aspects of Carolina, so many communities and personalities and diverse communities,” she said. “So, somewhere there is something for you.”

By Carly Swain, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Published May 7, 2015

APPLES alum turned passion into career

When Shelley Gist was assigned as a sophomore to intern at the Carolina Women’s Center, she never knew how much the center and its mission to build gender equity would inspire her career.

What began as a college internship of creating innovative programs to educate the community has turned into a career for Gist as she took over as the center’s program coordinator.

“I fell in love with the center, the people here and the work they were doing on campus,” said Gist, who graduated in 2014. “It’s just been a great place to be. I spent that [first] semester planning programing and ended up never leaving. I loved it so much I just couldn’t leave.”

A Raleigh native, Gist attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to earn a psychology degree with a minor in creative writing. But through an APPLES Service-Learning course with the Carolina Center for Public Service and as a resident assistant, Gist fostered a passion to help others.

The Women’s Center, which focuses on violence prevention, family advocacy, closing gender gaps and gender, difference and diversity, became Gist’s platform to provide a service for the community. She now helps students build their own programs and platforms — like she did as an undergraduate.

“There was no job that was too big or too small for Shelley. She’s got a lot of initiative, but comes at it through the spirit of service,” said Christi Hurt, director of the Women’s Center. “She wants to figure out how to be helpful. She’s not looking for a notch in her belt or something to put on her resume. She’s doing it as a way to benefit the whole Carolina community.”

During the APPLES course, Gist was assigned to the Women’s Center where she helped organize the University’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month. From there, she was given the freedom to build her own programs, including the now-popular Alternative Break Experience.

“It wasn’t just that I showed up and they told me what to do,” Gist said. “The staff here was good about letting the students develop their own ideas and then helping give us the resources to implement those.”

Her Alternative Break program “combines what students may be learning in the classroom and having discussions about, and seeing what it looks like in the real world,” Gist said.

In October, a group of eight to 10 students spend fall break in Asheville working with a rape crisis center conducting outreach that helps to train bar staff to recognize drug and alcohol facilitated sexual assault. During spring break, a group travels to New Bern and Wilmington, to learn from rape crisis centers and child-serving organizations.

Gist’s creativity and ability to launch new programs earned her respect within the organization, which only had two full-time employees at the time.

“It’s really important to have a person who can think outside the box,” Hurt said. “What the Women’s Center is really trying to do is be an incubator for people who come and identify issues that they want to address and figure out solutions.”

“As a student coming in with ideas and with the creativity to help identify community need and address it – that’s exactly the kind of initiative the Women’s Center really focuses on and supports.”

As a senior — not thinking joining the Women Center’s staff was a possibility — Gist applied for jobs outside the University, but when a position was created during her final semester she jumped at it.

“This was an opportunity to combine my work as an RA and my work that I had done at the Women’s Center and focus that programming through a gender equity lens,” Gist said. “It felt like the perfect combination of those two things that I was passionate about.”

Gist is now tasked with giving Carolina students the tools they need to develop new programs of their own. As program coordinator, Gist is trying to help ensure that the Center isn’t an unknown for Carolina students like it once was for her.

By partnering with other campus organizations to building connections, the Center aims to grow its programing and continue to educate the community.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure that gender is not a barrier to anybody’s success at UNC,” she said.

For more information on UNC-Chapel Hill’s Sexual Awareness Month programs, click here.

By Brandon Bieltz, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Bryan Social Innovation Fellowship FreshSpire awarded $10,000 for innovating social change


Shraddha Rathod, Hannah Sloan, Gabrielle Beaudry, Jennifer Wu, and Mona Amin (left to right), former students at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, developed a multifaceted notification system and mobile application to notify consumers on the daily markdowns that occur in grocery stores on perishable goods.

By Laura Fisher

During their senior year of high school, five current college first-years came up with an idea to change the food distribution system in North Carolina.

FreshSpire is a mobile app that aims to connect consumers and grocers by alerting nearby shoppers of time-sensitive deals on produce.

Their idea has attracted plenty of attention, recently winning one of the 2015 SECU Emerging Issues Prizes for Innovation at the 30th Annual Emerging Issues Forum, an event in Raleigh that explores innovation and ideas in a variety of sectors. The organization has also been recognized at UNC as a recipient of the 2015 Bryan Social Innovation Fellowship, a program of the Carolina Center for Public Service that is designed for aspiring social change-makers.

“The Bryan Social Innovation Fellowship has been a great space through which to have really important conversations we might not otherwise have,” said Hannah Sloan ‘18, one of FreshSpire’s founders. “It pushes us to be intelligent yet efficient in the ways we approach consensus, decision-making, relationship-mapping and creating metrics of success to evaluate our projects.”

Created by Sloan and fellow UNC student Gabrielle Beaudry ’18, as well as three other students at North Carolina State University, East Carolina University and Harvard, FreshSpire reduces food waste, food insecurity and the amount of food deposited in landfills. By advertising food that would otherwise be thrown away, the app makes food distribution more effective and increases the opportunity for all socio-economic classes to afford a nutritious diet.

“FreshSpire is on the path to development,” said Sloan. “We want to be experts in the problem we are trying to help solve.”

The 2015 SECU Emerging Issues Prize for Innovation awarded FreshSpire $10,000 as a Fan Favorite. The Bryan Social Innovation Fellowship awarded the start-up $1,500 and provides access to professional development funds, leadership training and personal development.