By Veronica Ortega
The APPLES Service-Learning program recently honored five individuals and organizations for providing significant contributions to service-learning to the UNC campus and in support to APPLES.
Four individuals, Finn Loendorf, Sonda Oppewal, Patricia Parker, Michael Ulku-Steiner and one community partner, Robeson County Church and Community Center, were recognized at the annual APPLES Service-Learning Award Brunch for sustained service as an integral part of the academic experience through their involvement with APPLES.
Lindsey Hollbrook, APPLES president, said, “These individuals continue to build the strong foundation for service-learning at Carolina and challenge us to do better every year. Their involvement, along with the University’s commitment, will ensure that APPLES continues for years to come.”
Finn Loendorf, a sophomore physics major, received the 2017 Undergraduate Excellence Award for their leadership and substantial contributions to the campus and community through organizations such as Carolina Advocating Gender Equity at the Campus Y and Boomerang, a youth empowerment program in Chapel Hill. Loendorf is also a former participant and student leader in the First-Year Service Corps and APPLES Service-Learning Alternative Break programs. Loendorf is from Stanley, North Carolina.
Luis Acosta, the 2016 award recipient, presented the Undergraduate Excellence Award to Loendorf and said, “More than many students in just their second-year at Carolina, Finn embodies the APPLES values of integrating all of the various threads of a students’ life.”
Sonda Oppewal received the 2017 Teaching Excellence Award for developing and teaching, since 2010, the course Health Care in Global Context. As part of the course, Oppewal leads an interdisciplinary group of students to spend a week in Tyrell County, North Carolina examining a wide range of factors contributing to residents’ health. Students gain perspective and concrete skills while contributing to the work of their partners through screening older adults for risk of falls, taking blood pressure, conducting home visits, and discussing long-term healthcare and medications.
Abbey Kinnaman presented the award and said, “Professor Oppewal’s willingness and commitment to contribute so much of her time, enthusiasm and ideas toward the service-learning experience and partnership in her course has exceeded our greatest expectations.”
Robeson County Church and Community Center received the 2017 Community Partner Excellence Award. Since 1969, the Robeson County Church and Community Center has involved people across cultural, racial and denominational barriers in partnership with each other to address a wide range of social needs in the community. The organization has a sustained partnership with APPLES Service-Learning Alternative Break programs, providing students with substantive opportunities to participate in its work while learning more about social change and the history of Robeson County.
Darlene Jacobs accepted the award on behalf of the organization. Kevin Giff and Austin Gragson presented the award. Giff said, “This organization has partnered consistently with the APPLES Service-Learning Alternative Break programs, providing students with substantive opportunities to participate in its work while learning more about social change and the history of Robeson County.”
Michael Ulku-Steiner ’92, received the 2017 Outstanding Alumni Award. A member of APPLES’ founding team, Ulku-Steiner has remained dedicated to service through his accomplished career in education. He currently serves as Durham Academy’s head of school, where he also has worked as a teacher, coach and advisor. Ulku-Steiner continues his connected to APPLES and recently came back as part of the alumni speaker series to talk with current organizers about the early days of service-learning at Carolina and his career in education.
Alexandra Zagbayou, the 2016 award recipient, presented the award to Ulku-Steiner. Zagbayou said, “Michael has remained dedicated to service through his accomplished career in education. His work is an inspiration to us and we are grateful to honor his contributions to APPLES.”
Patricia Parker, department chair and associate professor of Organizational Communication, received the 2017 Service-Learning Award in honor of Ned Brooks for a career of engaged teaching and research in social justice leadership. Her experience includes founding The Ella Baker Women’s Center for Leadership and Community Activism, developing a diversity liaison program for the College of Arts and Sciences, and decolonizing organizational communication processes within her research. Parker has taught several popular APPLES courses, including Collective Leadership Models for Social Change.
Mike Caragher presented Parker the award on behalf of Ned Brooks. Caragher said, “We are grateful for all of Patricia’s service to this state, university and communities. Her efforts have brought people together, to work together and to support one another in numerous ways.”