BPSS Graduate Comes Full Circle

Katie Savage

Donning a cap and gown in the middle of December is not the most traditional way to graduate.

But for Katie Savage, nothing has exactly been conventional since unexpectedly losing her left leg during surgery at UNC Hospitals when she was 14 years old.

By joining more than 2,100 other graduating University of North Carolina students at the annual Winter Commencement ceremony at the Dean E. Smith Center, Savage’s journey came full circle Sunday afternoon. She was presented her bachelor’s degree in political science from the College of Arts and Sciences mere minutes from where she learned to walk again.

“I’m thrilled,” Savage, a native of Durham, N.C., said days before the ceremony. “It means a lot of things that I’m still trying to process. I never thought that I would be here. It’s been life changing. I don’t see myself the same way as I did when I got here. I have changed so much.

“… It’s bittersweet and humbling. A lot is coming full circle because this is where my journey started.”

Savage’s connection with the UNC-Chapel Hill community happened unexpectedly. Complications during a heart surgery caused a blood clot in the leg and forced doctors to swiftly amputate the limb. The teenager spent her recovery and rehabilitation in Chapel Hill, learning to walk with a prosthetic leg on the steps of Kenan Stadium.

Before the surgery, Carolina wasn’t even on Savage’s radar, but the university and its students began to represent stability and normalcy for her. After that, she had her eyes set on attending UNC-Chapel Hill.

“I always wanted to come here,” she said. “This was the only place I wanted to be.”

Savage met her goal in 2012 when she transferred to Carolina from Central Carolina Community College. Soon after, she turned her attention to making the campus a more welcoming place for students with disabilities.

She joined the Carolina Center for Public Service’s Buckley Public Service Scholars program in 2013 and launched Advocates for Carolina — the university’s first organization for students with disabilities.

“Katie expressed to me feeling unsupported, and perhaps even invisible at times, when she first came to Carolina as a student with a disability,” said Ryan Nilsen, program officer for the Buckley Public Service Scholars program. “In her time here and through her work with Advocates for Carolina, I think that she has helped make some significant strides in making the community of students with disabilities more connected and visible.”

The goal of the Advocates for Carolina is to celebrate diversity, including all disabilities, and bring more awareness, accessibility and education through events such as “This Able Life” exhibit, which featured photos and narratives written by students.

Over the course of two years, she built the foundation of the program and brought the issues to the forefront of conversation. But Savage said there is still work to be done and hopes that future students will continue to make strides in improving the lives of UNC-Chapel Hill students with disabilities.

“I feel like there was a lot more that could be done,” Savage said. “I think the conversations around disabilities are going to continue, which I feel is huge. I feel like I’ve contributed to our campus talking about something that is impacting so many people.

“This is a dialogue that is not going to stop. That really impacts everything because if we’re silent about something, nothing will ever get done.”

After graduation, Savage is hoping to continue her time at Chapel Hill and attend graduate school at Carolina. Ultimately, she wants to be in a role to influence policy and help people with disabilities have access to the resources they need.

“I want to advocate for people,” she said. “I want to help change things because this is my reality too.”

But after a journey with several unexpected turns, Savage was simply focused on the immediate future of walking across the stage on Sunday afternoon. For her, the commencement not only celebrated her accomplishments in the classroom, but the winding and often difficult path.

“I feel like I’ve overcome so many fears, so many mental blockages and just a lot of things that I’ve carried with me from my past,” Savage said. “It’s really been a pretty healing experience being here. One of the greatest things that I am taking away is that when I look at myself in the mirror, I like who I am. I’m not seeing myself as that girl who lost her leg. I know that I am somebody. … I see myself as a whole person because of the special people that I met here.”

By Brandon Bieltz, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Originally published in unc.edu/spotlight.

SMART mentor makes a difference, motivated by culture

By Dylan Roberts

SMART Mentoring April OoEvery two years, Khin Hnit Oo, who goes by April Oo, travels to Burma to see her family. The junior health policy management major was born in Yangon, Burma, but moved to the United States when she was seven years old. Here at UNC, she is able to maintain a connection to Burma through the SMART Mentoring program. This program linked her to Suzy, her mentee, who is also from Burma. Over the course of the program, the two have developed a bond and engage in small meaningful activities.
SMART Mentoring engages UNC undergraduate students and local middle-school students in mentoring relationships. The program, run in partnership with Volunteers for Youth, targets students from low-income communities and focuses on issues of race, class and gender.
When April and Suzy meet, they typically reflect on their culture by sharing Burmese dishes, practicing the Burmese language and sharing family norms. April is currently teaching Suzy to read, write and speak the Burmese language, which was important to Suzy’s parents. Suzy knows very little Burmese and speaks to her parents only in English, which has created a communication barrier.
“In retrospect, I feel like having a mentor in my life around the age Suzy is now would have helped me tremendously with obstacles I faced as a child of first-generation, Immigrant parents,” Said April. “I learned that Chapel Hill has a considerable Burmese refugee population and I thought my background and fluency in Burmese could be an asset if I were to be matched to a Burmese mentee.”

Since Suzy has been meeting with April, her Burmese vocabulary has expanded, giving her a stronger connection to the Burmese culture. Suzy was born in Burma but has spent all of her life in America. Since she has never met any family members there, April’s guidance is important to her. “I really enjoy hanging out with April. I have a lot of fun,” said Suzy.

April OoAs a Smart mentor, April describes her experience as being much more than just being a mentor. “Suzy reminds me of my own sister, who is 15 and lives in Burma,” she said. In just a few weeks of knowing April, her mentee wrote a meaningful poem:

Well hello, Miss Mellow!
How are you doing on this fine day, aren’t the skies clear today?
The sun is shining and birds are singing,
And I smile at all, the happiness you’re bringing!
The giggles, laughter, chuckles, and fun,
Oh let the light and smiles all come!
Miss Mellow, you are truly a delight,
Because when with you, my day becomes truly bright.

April and Suzy have created a scrapbook of their time together, so they never forget the memories they make. Although the program only runs through the school year, many Smart mentors stay in contact with their mentees and continue to be a positive influence. April has seen tremendous growth from Suzy as a student and has enjoyed being her guide. She hopes to continue their friendship beyond the SMART program.

2014 Alternative Fall Breaks bring new elements

By Janell Smith

bowl_painting_afb2014Since the 1990s, alternative breaks have been a defining experience of the APPLES Service-Learning program. On Oct. 15, APPLES continued with its traditional alternative break structure and sent 70 students to communities across the state and mid-Atlantic region.
Though the basic framework of the breaks remains, much has changed since the first alternative break and the program continues to evolve. This year’s Alternative Fall Break (AFB) program introduced three new components: Service, Engagement, Enrichment and Development (SEED) orientations, the Arts in Public Service break experience and a carbon-free initiative.

SEED Orientations
On Saturday, Oct. 4, approximately 70 select students gathered for a pre-orientation in the Student Union to prepare for the various APPLES AFB experiences on which they would embark.
“Students were very receptive to the pre-orientation, which was complemented by a re-orientation on Oct. 26 after the students’ return,” said senior program officer of APPLES Service-Learning Leslie Parkins.

Pre-orientations are meant to familiarize break participants with the APPLES approach to community engagement and the importance of reflection before the break. Sa’a Mohammed, a junior psychology major and participant on the Urban Communities alternative break, attended the pre-orientation.

group_afb2014“My group was really diverse and each individual brought something different and really valuable to this experience,” Mohammed said. “It was great to meet the group before leaving for the actual trip and to truly learn about service-learning as well.”

Similar to the pre-orientation, the re-orientation provided break participants with the opportunity continue the service-center spirit they cultivated during the break. Christina Galardi, graduate assistant for Alternative Breaks, said this inaugural reorientation was a powerful experience, as it was the first conversation of its kind where students reflected and brainstormed ideas to further the service they began in their break experience in other communities.
“We don’t want [the break] to feel like an isolated experience,” Galardi said. “[Students] come back from the experience very energized and we wanted to give them a forum to channel that energy and focus it on how they could actually use it to feed back into their studies and feed back into their impact on campus.”

2014 AFB APS SelfieArts in Public Service

APPLES launched a new break experience this fall as well. Participants on the Arts in Public Service break harnessed their creativity by incorporating it into service. The break was created through a collaborative grant between APPLES and Carolina Performing Arts and aims to use art as a form of service and community building.
Break leaders Aditi Borde and Kelly Pope, students who are both involved in arts ranging from musical theater to belly dancing, were excited to help students draw new connections between arts and public service through their AFB experience.

“I see the arts as a universal way to communicate,” Pope said. “My hope is that [participants] expand their knowledge on what the ‘arts’.

“I want them to take their new understanding of this art — and all the different art mediums — and use it to communicate, to relate to other people and to provide service ultimately. It can be done, and it is being done.”

Borde, Pope and 10 other UNC students traveled to Asheville, North Carolina during the break, where they discovered how both art and service has become integral to the Asheville community.
The group explored a variety of museums in the Asheville area, including the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design, Black Mountain College Museum, the Folk Art Center, the Asheville Pinball Museum, the Asheville Area Arts Council and a book press. They completed services projects with the Asheville Community Theater, creating bowls that were then donated to a local homeless shelter.2014 AFB APS Learning

The pair is hopeful that this groundbreaking experience has forged sustainable relationships with the community, which will help the alternative break endure for years to come.

Carbon-Neutral Initiative

Daniel Irvin, a junior and AFB co-chair, hopes to incorporate sustainability into APPLES alternative breaks in a different way.

Inspired by a 2011 change at Appalachian State University, where the university’s Alternative Service Experience programs practice carbon neutrality and simple living, Irvin piloted a similar environmentally sustainable initiative with APPLES AFB Environmental Issues.

“I wanted to bring it to APPLES for two reasons,” Irvin said. “I thought it lined up perfectly with our ideals of critically thinking about service, and figuring out how to make our service better. Making a commitment to make all our breaks carbon-neutral shows that we are thinking about how our lives affect the rest of the world, both on break trips and off them.”

Creek_afb2014During the fall break, APPLES participants tracked their carbon emissions, calculating just how much carbon they emitted. These calculations will help the students determine how many trees need to be planted to counterbalance their emissions. To promote carbon neutrality, Irvin plans to partner with UNC groundskeeper for a tree-planting day.

“My second reason [for focusing on this carbon-neutral initiative] was that I thought a big tree-planting day would be a fun way to bring all the breaks together after our trips were over, similar to the big service days we always try to do.

“Usually when APPLES refers to sustainability, it is in the context of sustainable community partnerships and the like. However, I think environmental sustainability can still play a part in APPLES’s sustainability because it shows our commitment to a sustainable world.”

With SEED orientations, the Arts in Public Service break experience and the carbon neutral initiative, a spirit of renewal and excitement has been planted in APPLES AFB.

Carolina Center for Public Service celebrates 15th anniversary

For the last 15 years, the Carolina Center for Public Service has worked to fulfill the promise of the first public university – doing everything from providing fellowships to supporting students and faculty in public service and engagement. On Nov. 14, the Center celebrated that theme – and its decade and a half of service – with a reception honoring students, faculty, staff and community partners who have been instrumental in its work.

“Although we have seen many changes in 15 years, one thing has remained constant: the dedication of this University to serve the state,” said Lynn Blanchard, director of the Center. “At the same time the Carolina Center for Public Service is celebrating the accomplishments of the last 15 years, we are also reaffirming our commitment to help fulfill the promise of the first public university in the years to come.”

The week the Center was founded in 1999, the eastern part of North Carolina was devastated by Hurricane Floyd. Then-Chancellor Michael Hooker charged the Center with organizing the campus’ response.

Since then the Center has continued to strengthen and expand UNC-Chapel Hill’s tradition of service and engagement in a myriad of ways, including three major programs: APPLES Service-Learning, Buckley Public Service Scholars and Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars. Through these programs, students, faculty and staff documented almost 247,000 hours in service with communities in the 2013-2014 year alone.

“I cannot thank the Center and its APPLES Service-Learning program enough. They have provided our organization with irreplaceable volunteers,” said Jenice Ramirez, executive director and vice president of La Isla, a community nonprofit organization that provides a safe and nurturing environment for native Spanish speaking children with the purpose of promoting literacy in the language of Spanish.

“Our program would not be what it is without them. They allow us to provide our students with top notch one-on-one assistance and bring so many amazing ideas to our program.”


In 2009, the APPLES Service-Learning program became a part of the Carolina Center for Public Service. APPLES is a student-led program that transforms educational experiences by connecting academic learning and public service. Since 1990, APPLES has strengthened civic engagement by bringing together students, faculty and communities in sustained and mutually beneficial partnerships. Along with many other activities, APPLES includes the Robert E. Bryan Social Innovation Fellowships, which support aspiring social change-makers who are interested in providing a significant contribution locally, nationally or internationally through an entrepreneurial project that addresses a community need.

Kliink, an organization that links donors and educational nongovernmental organizations in India, is a recent recipient of a Bryan Fellowship. Kliink’s website aims to change the process of giving by providing a streamlined presentation of information for the donor to see the impacts of their contributions.
15th Anniversary
“The Bryan Social Innovation Fellowship helped build the base Kliink needed to start a well-functioning organization,” said Nikhil Jyothinagaram, a senior economics major and one of the creators of Kliink. “The guidance and instruction from the program helped us with everything from management to fundraising. Moving forward, my team and I are more confident that we have what it takes to run a social venture.”


In 2003, the Buckley Public Service Scholars program was created to provide a framework for undergraduate students committed to making a positive impact through service. Since the program’s inception, more than 5,635 students have participated, contributing 1.35 million hours of service. Currently about 10 percent of Carolina undergraduates are enrolled as participants.

One such student is senior Katie Savage. The political science major recently founded Advocates for Carolina, UNC’s first club for students with disabilities. The organization works to increase awareness, accessibility and education about disabilities on campus. Like many other BPSS students, Katie is a leader who works to engage with the UNC community in a meaningful way.

“Serving others is something that has always been in my heart. Over the last two years, I have been surrounded by people who see life just as I do: Life should be one of service,” said Savage. “Being a Buckley Public Service Scholar has been an experience in which I not only gave a lot, but received a lot in return. I will take so much away from this experience when I leave Carolina.”


Since its inception in 2007, 43 faculty members have been selected to participate in the Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars Program, representing nine schools and 21 departments. This year, the fifth class of scholars was selected. One member of the class is Cheryl Giscombe, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing. Her research projects focus on examining stress and the risk of obesity in African-American women.

“The Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars program is providing me with a rich opportunity to enhance my community-based scholarship,” said Giscombe. “In particular, this experience is providing me with the necessary tools to maximize my training as a psychiatric nurse practitioner and a social and health psychologist to integrate my research, my practice, and my teaching of undergraduate and graduate nursing students to develop and implement culturally-relevant and sustainable evidence-based interventions that will improve mental health care for underserved populations.”


In celebration of the 15-year anniversary, the Center recently launched the I Serve campaign, a simple way to honor the vast amount of public service undertaken by UNC’s students, staff, faculty and alumni. The campaign highlights campus community members and why and how they are involved in serving others.

“I serve to help our students and our faculty change the world,” wrote Chancellor Carol Folt.

Janell Smith, a junior Journalism and Mass Communication major, wrote, “I serve because change doesn’t happen on its own. Change needs and agent.”

Alumnus Antawn Jamison wrote, “I serve because this is where all of my dreams came true.”

In addition to celebrating the anniversary, organizers hope the I Serve campaign will help inspire and motivate others to serve – for many years to come.

CCPS 15th Anniversary

APPLES Day 2014

By Janell Smith

9-24-2014 APPLES Day cakeAPPLES Service-Learning celebrated APPLES Day Sept. 24 by partnering with Hunger Lunch in the Student Union. APPLES served more than one hundred students cake and inviting them to learn more about APPLES programs.

“APPLES Day is a day dedicated to celebrating the students, the service and everything we do as an organization in a way that the entire campus can be involved in and take notice,” said Amanda Gaffey, APPLES vice president.

The day is meant to honor APPLES’ history and promote all of APPLES’ program opportunities to UNC students who may be interested in APPLES or those who are otherwise uninformed about the organization and service-learning.

Gaffey added that APPLES Day does more than raise awareness or spark interest in the organization, the day honors the organization’s commitment to community engagement, academics and service. “We want the whole campus to know about the important work that APPLES does,” Gaffey said.

APPLES Day 2014The celebration also is a prelude to APPLES 25th anniversary, which will be commemorated during the upcoming 2015 spring semester.

Since 1990, APPLES has provided unique opportunities for students, faculty and communities to engage in sustained and mutually beneficial relationships through service. During the last 25 years these opportunities have grown to include alternative breaks, the Service-Learning Initiative, internships, courses and social innovation fellowships.

APPLES will celebrate these milestones Feb. 27 and 28 with a weekend of activities for students, staff and alumni.

Sherpa Fellowship honors pioneering conservationist

By Laura Fisher

The late Mingma Norbu Sherpa was a pioneering conservationist in the Himalaya who believed that “saving nature should not take place at the expense of the people.” His work inspired Donald and Karen Wagoner to create the Sherpa Fellowship at the Carolina Center for Public Service for students motivated by Sherpa’s life story and willing to make a similar commitment to conservation. The Wagoners, who are both graduates of Carolina’s MBA program, believe the university’s global reach for study and research in environmental areas made UNC the perfect place to establish the Sherpa Fellowship. Their own public service supporting environmental and other causes made the Carolina Center for Public Service the obvious home for the fellowship.

Billy Gerhard in labThe inaugural Sherpa Fellowship was awarded to William Gerhard ’14, a biology major from Charlotte, for his work evaluating the effectiveness of new drinking water infrastructure systems on the Galapagos Island of San Cristobal. After an initial summer gathering data from the distributed water of old and new drinking water plants, Gerhard continued this study for a second year by spending six weeks performing microbial, chemical and physical analyses of the new distribution system. The results of the study can help local government more efficiently allocate resources to providing clean drinking water to the 7,000 residents of San Cristobal. In addition, Gerhard worked with local scientists to create a lab that can assess the effectiveness of water treatment and distribution systems on the island for years to come. There is also evidence that the new treatment plant and distribution systems have had a positive impact on human health. With plans to return to the Galapagos for a third summer, Gerhard and fellow scientists working at the Galapagos Science Center hope to provide additional insight about the correlation between quality of drinking water and health on the island of San Cristobal.

Billy Gerhard and Donald WagonerThis past summer, Donald Wagoner spent time in the Galapagos with Gerhard to observe his work and learn about the area. “From my brief stay and observation, Billy has done a masterful job of addressing these social issues and in educating, involving and building the confidence of the people so that the project will go on,” said Wagoner, who understands the importance of the Galapagos residents support in the success of the project’s implementation. “We could not be more pleased with the selection of the study of drinking water and pathogens in the Galapagos,” Wagoner added. “This is precisely the sort of project we envisioned when we conceived of the fellowship, and Billy Gerhard is a most worthy, inaugural recipient.”

The fellowship, to be awarded annually, provides $1,250 to support field study and engaged research in environmental areas at field sites, preferably abroad. Preference is given to students participating in the Buckley Public Service Scholars program who are majoring in business, environmental science or economics. For more information, visit Sherpa Fellowship.

Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars Class IV graduate

Nine Carolina faculty members have been honored for their engaged scholarship over the past two years. As part of the Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars program, these professors worked to strengthen university-community partnerships through such work as training teachers to integrate experiential learning into their classrooms.

Tamera Coyne-Beasley, Barbara Fedders, Jocelyn Glazier, Leigh A. Hall, Jill B. Hamilton, Brian Hogan, Shawn M. Kneipp, Linda Watson and Ted Douglas Zoller were recognized as graduates of Class IV of the Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars program during a lunch celebration at the Carolina Inn Friday, Aug. 22.

The program, an initiative of the Carolina Center for Public Service, brings together selected faculty from across campus to engage in a two-year experiential, competency-based curriculum designed to advance their engaged scholarship. Scholars participate in sessions in community settings to learn from Carolina faculty and their community partners. While developing individual projects, each class of scholars forms a learning community along with the faculty and community course directors to support one another’s projects and community partners. The growing network of Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars reports outcomes including new interdisciplinary collaborations, successful grant applications and both traditional and innovative products of their scholarship.

“Participating in the Faculty Engaged Scholars program has enabled me to better understand the concept of engaged scholarship, particularly its multiple and varied forms. There’s no one way into and through engaged scholarship,” said Jocelyn Glazier, associate professor in the School of Education. “Hearing about my colleagues’ work has really expanded my understanding of the extensive and limitless boundaries of engaged scholarship.”

The Faculty Engaged Scholars program was established in 2007 as an initiative of the Carolina Center for Public Service to advance faculty involvement in engaged scholarship. In 2013, an endowment honoring UNC’s former chancellor H. Holden Thorp was established to support faculty in the program. Selected through a competitive process, Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars learn about and pursue community engagement through scholarly endeavors during the two-year program. Since its inception, 43 faculty members from nine schools and 21 departments have been selected to participate in the program.

“The Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars program opened my eyes to the dramatic needs of the state of North Carolina and the importance of core economic insights to unlock its long-term economic prosperity,” said Ted Zoller, director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at the Kenan-Flagler Business School. “This experience served to raise the stakes and motivate my work at a higher level to make sure that it wasn’t just another unread analysis, but instead a call to action. I learned that sound research can result in important insights and be a tool of transformation. This project served to distill in me a passion to serve our citizens by promoting the economic prosperity of the state of North Carolina.”

Faculty Engaged Scholars 2014 Graduation Program.

The graduates and their work

These nine faculty members have distinguished themselves as engaged scholars through their commitment to serve others and strengthen university-community relationships.

Dr. Tamera Coyne-Beasley, professor of pediatrics, established the North Carolina Child Health Research Network as part of the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Science Institute to build partnerships among community organizations, community-based and ambulatory practices, and research communities. As the network director, she engages in multiple projects with adolescents in western and central North Carolina. Coyne-Beasley focuses on testing the effectiveness of school-based telemedicine programs, texting and social media for increasing knowledge of human papilloma virus disease and related-cancers, and increasing adolescent access to healthcare including human papilloma virus vaccination.

Barbara Fedders, clinical assistant professor in the School of Law, teaches and supervises law students who represent youth in North Carolina delinquency cases. Her scholarship focuses on improving policies, practices and legal representation for young people in the child welfare and delinquency systems. She serves on the advisory board for the Equity Project, a national organization promoting policy and practice reforms for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in the juvenile justice system, and helped produce a report for stakeholders. At the state and national level, Fedders trains lawyers on incorporating clients’ educational histories and using education law in delinquency representation. In collaboration with an education lawyer, she is producing a practitioners’ manual based on those trainings.

Jocelyn Glazier, associate professor in the School of Education, focuses on exploring the impact of experiential pedagogy on teacher and student learning, particularly with regard to minority populations. Glazier worked with teachers from different schools in what she has called a Teacher Collaborative (TC), a space where teachers work with one another to study experiential teaching and learning in their own classrooms. In addition to honing practice, teachers in TCs learn together how to assess the impact of these approaches on their students and share their findings with colleagues and stakeholders, empowering both each other and their students in the process.

Dr. Leigh A. Hall, associate professor in the School of Education, addresses issues relevant to adolescents’ literacy development and particularly those who have been labeled as having reading difficulties. Her project centered on creating an online community for teachers to help them examine how patterns in their teaching did or did not support students’ academic literacy development and how to reconfigure their instruction in ways that would do so. Teachers received regular input and feedback on their ideas from each other, Hall and graduate assistants. As a result, teachers engaged professional development that was meaningful and connected to the issues in their own practice.

Dr. Jill B. Hamilton, former assistant professor in the School of Nursing (now at Johns Hopkins University), is published on topics related to social support, religion and quality of life among African-American cancer survivors. She was a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar from 2003-2007 and a Faculty Scholar at the Center for Spirituality, Theology & Health at Duke University. Hamilton’s research interests include health disparities, social and cultural factors that influence health, and the coping strategies used among older African-American cancer survivors and their families. She has developed measures of preferred coping strategies and spirituality, and is exploring the sociocultural factors that influence how older African-Americans use social support and religion/spirituality as mental health promoting strategies when there is a diagnosis of cancer.

Dr. Brian Hogan, a research assistant professor in the Chemistry department, is the academic director for the Scholars’ Latino Initiative, a program dedicated to increasing college access for Latino high school students. Dr. Hogan’s research focuses on increasing the number of Latino and Latina students graduating in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. He helped build “SLIence,” a collaboration between McDougle Middle School and the Scholars’ Latino Initiative. Each week, Latino science majors work with the middle grades after-school program Las Guapitas y Los Caballeros Guapos to bring STEM outreach and mentoring.

Dr. Shawn M. Kneipp, associate professor in the School of Nursing, conducts research of health disparities and social determinants of health. Her work focused on health conditions and unmet needs of women in welfare-to-work programs in the United States, where symptoms associated with chronic health conditions pose significant barriers for women as they attempt to become economically self-sufficient. In collaboration with community partners, her current projects focus on improving longer-term health and employment conditions using peer-mentored problem solving methods and examining the role of minor criminal offense charges as both barriers to self-sufficiency and social determinants of health.

Dr. Linda Watson, a professor in Allied Health Sciences, focuses her scholarship on autism research, addressing issues of early development, early identification and social-communication interventions. She sought to increase engagement with varied stakeholders across multiple projects. One project is collaboration with public school educators to test the efficacy of a school-based intervention for preschoolers with autism. Watson also worked on a collaborative effort with stakeholders in Bolivia with an interest in improving autism services there. Watson and a Bolivian collaborator began preliminary planning for sustainable ways to address community-identified needs for greater autism awareness and expertise in Bolivia.

Ted Douglas Zoller is director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at the Kenan-Flagler Business School. Zoller is the founding instructor of Launching the Venture, a start-up creation program that increased the number of spin-offs from UNC-Chapel Hill. Zoller’s project entailed developing a comprehensive analysis of the social capital of the Research Triangle Park and the engagement of the network of UNC entrepreneurial social capital in the North Carolina economy. The Blackstone Foundation recognized this work as the basis of a new intervention to increase the performance of regional entrepreneurial networks through the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network (BEN) in Research Triangle Park. Based on project outcomes, the Blackstone Foundation issued UNC a $1.1 million grant to replicate the network nationally.

Outward Bound participant broadens perspective of service

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


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

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

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

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

Learn more about the Center’s Outward Bound scholarships.

APPLES summer intern works to give back to the community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Former APPLES organizer shares life story and passion for service

By Meghan Modafferi and Frank Stasio

Listen to Alexandra’s interview on The State Of Things

APPLES 20th  Zagbayou

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cover photo courtesy of Student U.