UNC-Chapel Hill student honored for community service

campus_compact-300x244Jashawnna Gladney ’17, a global studies major from Thomasville, North Carolina was recognized for outstanding leadership and service by North Carolina Campus Compact, a statewide network of colleges and universities with a shared commitment to civic engagement. Gladney is a recipient of the network’s Community Impact Award, honoring one student leader at each member school.

Gladney has led Carolina’s on-campus food pantry, the Carolina Cupboard, during a crucial period of growth and new partnerships. She helped Carolina Cupboard secure new funding and a new space, and she has pushed for the capacity to accept and provide perishable foods. Gladney established partnerships with Residence Life, APPLES Service-Learning program, and the pan-campus Food for All committee. Her efforts have meant more food provided to students in need and increased awareness among the UNC community about the reality of food insecurity. In addition, she interned with nonprofits Nourish International and Carolina for Amani, and volunteers regularly with Carolina Covenant Achieve Pre-Health Society.

Gladney was honored at the Compact’s annual CSNAP student conference Nov. 12 at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. The event convened more than 160 students and staff from 24 campuses in the network. The conference included student-led workshops on diverse community engagement topics and a showcase of organizations working for social change, including the Campus Kitchens Project, Rachel Carson Council and the Sustained Dialogue Institute.

Gladney was one of 25 students selected by their campus for the 2016 honor, joining more than 200 college students recognized by the network since the award was first presented in 2006.

North Carolina Campus Compact is a statewide coalition of 36 public, private and community colleges and universities that share a commitment to civic and community engagement. The network was founded in 2002 and is hosted by Elon University. North Carolina Campus Compact is an affiliate of the national Campus Compact organization, which claims 1,000 member schools representing nearly two million college students.

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APPLES alternative fall break participants serve where needed

rural2_343x255Each year, many UNC students spend their fall break at home, binge-watching their favorite Netflix show or catching up on sleep lost during midterms. But for 70 students participating in APPLES Service-Learning alternative fall breaks (AFB), fall break is spent serving communities throughout North Carolina, the mid-Atlantic and Southeast.

APPLES alternative fall breaks are student-led, service-oriented experiences where students dedicate their service to participate in six focus areas: urban communities, Latino communities, rural communities, environmental issues, arts in public service and service-learning initiative. Because APPLES alternative breaks has long-standing relationships with community partners, the work students perform is aligned directly to what the community needs. So in the wake of the devastation Hurricane Matthew brought to Eastern North Carolina on Oct. 8, the rural communities alternative break revamped its work to focus on helping those affected by the hurricane.

“While in Robeson County, we felt angry about systemic injustices that people face, but also hopeful and inspired by the strength of the community,” said Rachael Purvis ‘18, a biology major from Gastonia, North Carolina. “One of our community partners told us to hold on to those feelings from this experience and let them carry us throughout our lives and careers.”

APPLES alternative fall break, rural communitiesThe 12 students who participated in the rural communities break visited Robeson County, a highly impoverished riverside community in Eastern North Carolina. Robeson County was one of many communities left flooded by Hurricane Matthew. Students spent their time cleaning out damaged homes, learning from local speakers about emergency response in rural and tribal communities, and assisting the Center for Community Action and the Robeson County Church and Community Center in their work serving the community.

These AFB students gained a first-hand account of how their service work can make a difference in a community only a few hours away from their university. While these Tar Heels only served Robeson County for a few days, the impact of this experience will last long past their return to UNC.

“The clean-up experience [with the students] was both excruciatingly painful and dramatically rewarding. We shared both aspects of the experience with each other and with family members,” said Reverend Mac Legerton, executive director and co-founder of the Center for Community Action. “The experience was deeply transformative, mainly because it included care and discomfort, heartache and heart affection. The classroom experience rarely takes you to either space and place. Community experience does, particularly when it provides both depth and breadth in one’s life that is made explicit through de-liberation and reciprocity. This is the core of meaningful and transformative service-learning.”

Beth Clifford ‘19 from Mount Prospect, Illinois said, “Robeson County changed us in ways we didn’t expect. Even though we just intended to serve, the community members made their mark on our lives.”

APPLES summer intern impacts local organizaton

By Catie Armstrong

Interns can do a lot to further an organization’s work, especially a nonprofit organization. This past summer, the Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness hosted Morgan McLaughlin, a senior public policy and political science double major as its first APPLES Service-Learning intern. According to Michelle Goryn, Raleigh/Wake Partnership board member, the experiences were so positive on both sides that plans are to host another intern.

morgan-mclaughlin-apples-summer-intern“From day one, Morgan contributed to projects critical to the Partnership’s efforts,” Goryn said. “The contributions Morgan made benefitted the Partnership by expanding its outreach, awareness and capacity in the community.”

APPLES internships are unique, intense experiences in service for either the spring semester or summer. Students intern at a variety of nonprofit and government organizations, receive funding ($1,250 for spring and $2,500 for summer) and academic course credit through a course hosted by the School of Social Work. APPLES interns are considered staff in their organizations and have a great deal of responsibility as well as professional growth opportunities. Interns also receive individualized academic instruction from a faculty member and hands-on experience that will help them grow as community leaders. APPLES hosted 30 summer interns.

The Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homeless is a nonprofit dedicated to addressing the issues surrounding being homeless in the Triangle area and working toward both short term and long term solutions. McLaughlin’s internship helped the organization expand to better serve the homeless community.

As a summer interns, McLaughlin implemented a comprehensive communications plan, created new content for the website and social media platforms, and developed a new donation management system to accompany an updated online donation platform.

McLaughlin’s internship experience extended beyond the impactful work she did for the Partnership; she also learned more about the issues with which she was working so closely. “I learned a lot about the American homeless service system and was able to contextualize the problem of wealth and income inequality in America,” McLaughlin said.

“As our first APPLES intern, Morgan witnessed the growing needs and capacity of the Partnership,” said Goryn. “She took the initiative to establish an ongoing volunteer and intern infrastructure for people to get involved with the organization in the future. By doing this, the Partnership will continue to benefit from the valuable work of other volunteers and interns that can bring talent, energy and community commitment similar to what Morgan brought this summer.”

Jesse White is passionate about public service

jessewhitephoto_206x315When I came to Carolina in January of 2003 I was immediately impressed with the spirit of public service that characterized our students and faculty. Soon I discovered a driving force behind this work, the Carolina Center for Public Service. I joined its advisory board and served until my retirement in early 2011. It was one of my best experiences at UNC.

This excitement with the Center’s work has its roots in my own lifelong commitment to government, politics and public service. I became a political scientist and spent my entire career in state and federal government, higher education and nonprofit management.

More than ever, we need our most talented young people to devote themselves to public service and to improving the common good. I find this commitment in the extraordinary students that I have met through the Center. But, few of them plan to run for public office, in part because of the divisive, even toxic, environment in political life.

However, the public sector has immense power to affect our future and the battlefield cannot be abandoned to the selfish, negative and short sighted. We need more of our best young leaders to consider seeking public office. That is why I increased my giving to the Center to create internships for our undergraduates with elected public officials, providing exposure to the real day to day work, issues and impact of being in public office. We placed four interns with public officials the first year and the response has been overwhelming from the interns and from the officials and staff with whom they work.

The Center cannot meet all of its existing needs or create other new opportunities for students without financial support, especially in light of declining state budgets. It is more important than ever for those of us who support the Center’s mission to step up and help financially. In my opinion, nothing less than our future is at stake. I ask you to join with me in supporting the Carolina Center for Public Service and investing in our future.

Jesse White

SLI immerses first-years in service before classes start

SLI student at IFCEngaging is service is a meaningful way for students to connect with the community and start their UNC career. Just ask Dillon Rubalcava, a first-year student from Jamestown, North Carolina. “I thought doing service work would be a great way to get to know the Chapel Hill community while at the same time doing good for the community,” Rubalcava said. He and 59 other UNC first-year students participated in Service-Learning Initiative, or SLI, a unique student-led orientation to service-learning of the APPLES Service-Learning program and the Carolina Center for Public Service. Over three days the week before classes start, participants are immersed in serving the local community and introduced to the array of service opportunities in and around Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

“I wanted to participate in the Service-Learning Initiative ever since I first heard about it,” Rubalcava said. “I had already made a personal goal of mine to give back to the community as much as possible, mainly through community service. I thought SLI was the exact program I needed to dive headfirst into helping the Carolina community.”

With more than 675 hours of service over three days, SLI participants dove deep into service.

SLI students at TABLETaylor Newsome, a senior biology and global studies from Winston-Salem, North Carolina and SLI- co-chair, said “We had a record number of applications this year. There were 129 applications, which was really awesome because it shows that first-year students are interested in learning more about serving their community and making an impact during their time at Carolina.”

Through the SLI, each participant served at three community partners like Central Elementary, Carrboro High School, TABLE, the SECU Family House, Club Nova and the Carolina Campus Community Garden. They also engaged in reflections to discuss what they learned from serving, and from videos and articles presented throughout the program that relate to UNC’s pan-university theme, Food for All.

“After SLI, I plan on engaging in several different forms of service through UNC,” Rubalcava said. “Having grown up around Greensboro, North Carolina, I am extremely aware of the hunger problems plaguing many cities in America and across the globe, and will be working with organizations such as TABLE (whom I met through the SLI) to help the cause of easing hunger.”

SLI site leadersNewsome added, “We hope that the participants form lasting friendships with each other, as well as learn about ways to get and stay involved on campus and in the community. We also hope that participants will be able to take what they have learned at SLI and use it to make a positive impact on the Carolina and Chapel Hill/Carrboro communities.”

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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.”

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.

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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.

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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.”

APPLES alumnus makes service a career

By Janell Smith

SLI 2015 George (Heavenly Groceries) and Jamie DorrierMost students at Carolina graduate with some type of public service having been part of their undergraduate experiences and nearly half of UNC-CH’s seniors (47 percent) reported participation in service-learning. Sometimes that service is not only an act but a way of life. For George Barrett ’14, an APPLES Service-Learning alumnus and current associate director of Organizing and Advocacy at the Jackson Center for Saving and Making History, service to others is a trait that runs blood deep.

“Serving is an action that has been instilled in me from birth,” Barrett said. “My mother is the epitome of an individual with a servant’s heart.

“My passion comes from steadfast inspiration and guidance from watching her live her life.”

Barrett admires his mother for her service-oriented life and seems to have inherited that same altruistic spirit. Since graduating from UNC-CH with a degree in anthropology, Barrett has dedicated his career to meaningful service and engagement with communities in North Carolina through working with the Jackson Center, a public history and community development center located in the Northside neighborhood in Chapel Hill. The Jackson Center honors, renews and rebuilds communities in the historic Northside and Pine Knolls neighborhoods. It was through an APPLES service-learning course that Barrett’s desire to work full-time with the Jackson Center was born.

“I was connected to the Carolina Center for Public Service through an APPLES service-learning course [I took during] my senior year,” he said. “UNITAS was a year-long course that provided a social justice education with an ethnographic, participatory learning base.

“During the second semester, students were required to do a service-learning project at a community organization. This pipeline is how I came to the Jackson Center and eventually to the Northside family.”

Barrett’s work with the Jackson Center fosters engagement across local communities, including the place where his involvement started: the APPLES Service-Learning program.

In August, Barrett hosted at the Jackson Center a group of first-year students participating in APPLES Service-Learning Initiative (SLI). SLI participants and site leaders engage in a wide range of service activities: working to address food scarcity at Heavenly Groceries, supporting the Jackson Center Oral History Trust, writing and distributing the Northside News to more than 800 households in Northside and Pine Knolls, and aiding the neighborhood housing retention efforts through Home Repair projects such as A Brush With Kindness through Habitat for Humanity.

Barrett said these type of cross-cultural, inter-generational service opportunities promote good work and a better sense of community.

“Students at UNC are extraordinary,” he said. “I consistently tell my friends from my home town of Charlotte that UNC is this weird place were the extraordinary is the ordinary.”

Barret is part of a long history where the University and community come together in a tradition of service. By participating in Carolina Center for Public Service programs, he hopes students gain a perspective outside of themselves.

“I hope they gain history,” he said. “I hope they gain the tools to look outside of themselves in order to see the world around them. I hope they gain love from the community. I hope they gain wisdom from the community. I hope they gain a community.

“My mom has always told me God puts people on this earth for a reason. I feel like my reason and role is to help other people.”