2017 APPLES Award recipients recognized

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.

2017 APPLES award recipientsFour 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.”

-Carolina-

Battle Grove serves as a model for living-learning lab

University Gazette, March 8, 2017

Sustainability @ UNC, Feb. 22, 2017

Geoffrey Bell and students Jun Wang and Brooke Benson tested the water in Battle BranchGeoffrey Bell wanted a way for students in his fall 2016 Restoration Ecology class to link concepts in ecosystem restoration with the practical application of research techniques they were learning. Sally Hoyt wanted to find new ways to engage students in the campus infrastructure around them.

So it was only natural that the two found a common purpose in the Battle Grove Restoration Project, which turned the once-soggy area beside McIver Residence Hall into a gentle stream that flows from Raleigh Street to Country Club Road.

The stream was created last year through a process called daylighting, where water from a Battle Branch tributary that had been piped beneath the road for 75 years was released in an aboveground stream. The new Battle Branch stream was designed with a filtration process that would naturally filter pollutants and contaminants out of runoff water, benefiting water quality downstream as well as in the immediate area.

A professor at North Carolina State University has worked with Hoyt, the University’s stormwater engineer, and her team to examine the effect of storm conditions on the stream’s water quality, but that work didn’t include monitoring Battle Branch’s base flow conditions – taken when it wasn’t raining as a way to gauge nutrient concentrations on an average day.

That’s where Bell’s class became instrumental.

“That was a gap in information we needed,” Hoyt said, “and I worked with Dr. Bell on parameters that were both useful to the project and feasible for his students to measure with the equipment that was available.”

Testing the nutrient concentration over time is important because the Battle Grove area is part of the Jordan Lake watershed, and that lake already has too many nutrients, some of which reach it through base flow conditions, Hoyt explained.

A three-student team in Bell’s class took on the base flow-monitoring project and designed their measurement and analysis methodologies to provide the information Hoyt needed. They sampled the water multiple times during the semester at four sites within Battle Branch to measure base flow concentrations of nitrate, nitrite, ammonium and phosphate in the water as well as dissolved oxygen, salinity and temperature.

Although their research didn’t yield conclusive patterns – phosphate was the only nutrient that differed significantly among the four sites – that in itself is a finding. It points to the need for additional testing at different times during the year to create a more complete picture than tests within one semester can show, the students explained in their report.The sites were selected based on varying degrees of treatment, including two places where water enters the system and a third location where water coming in from both entry points exits the system, said Brooke Benson, one of the students on the team.

The Battle Grove project was one of six community partnerships Bell’s class developed. Student teams also worked with University clients to examine ecological issues related to short-leaf pines in the North Carolina Botanical Garden, oyster restoration in conjunction with the Institute for Marine Sciences, stream monitoring on Outdoor Recreation Center land and endangered species restoration in Battle Park, as well as a project with the Town of Chapel Hill to monitor water quality for a local stream.

The class, which Bell has taught each fall for the past several years, is an APPLES service-learning class, requiring students to devote 30 hours outside of class to their assigned restoration project.

“As I developed the course, I saw an opportunity to bring both the service component and a practical application of research into the classroom because there was so much restoration work going on around campus,” said Bell, senior lecturer in the Curriculum in Environment and Ecology.

Bell focuses not only on teaching his students key concepts in restoring ecosystems, but also the research skills they need to design experiments, think critically and test hypotheses, and analyze their data.

“The biggest benefit for the students is that they can take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to a real issue,” he said. In the process, they’re learning how to manage projects and meet clients’ needs while giving back to the community.

In the Battle Grove project, for example, Hoyt showed the student team around the site and provided parameters for the information she needed, and the students took it from there. They determined the specifics of the study design and analysis.

“Projects like this are critically important to being good stewards of our environment,” said Benson, who is majoring in environmental studies with a concentration in ecology and society. “Nature has done a good job of taking care of itself, and we have to pay attention to the effects of pollution and urbanization on our natural systems.”

Bell’s class is a model for using the campus as a living-learning laboratory, as Chancellor Carol L. Folt has championed as part of the new Three Zeros Initiative. On March 24, Bell will be part of a Center for Faculty Excellence-sponsored panel to discuss innovative ways to integrate research and service into a living-labs classroom.

And his students’ work has laid the foundation for further assessment.

This semester, Stephanie Monmoine will take additional water samples from the Battle Branch stream, and she will create a time-lapse photo vignette of the area to show how the site has changed in terms of vegetation, animal habitats and other factors.

Monmoine, an intern with the Sustainable Triangle Field Site Program, is also focusing on education and outreach efforts.

“As students, many of us don’t consider how much planning goes into taking care of our campus,” she said. “I have a chance to see some of what happens behind the curtain to make our University run smoothly.”

Launched in fall 2016, the Three Zeros initiative is Carolina’s integrated approach to reducing its environmental footprint through three sustainability goals: net zero water usage; zero waste to landfills; and net zero greenhouse gas emissions. A central component to the initiative is to create a living-learning laboratory for students, faculty and staff to study and advance the most recent developments in sustainability policy and technology.

APPLES leads alumna to an alternative route

By Veronica Ortega

Alternative breaks program provided UNC graduate with unique experiences

Hope Thomson AFBHope Thomson ‘15, like many college students, was exploring options to pursue a graduate degree after completing her undergraduate curriculum at UNC. But one campus experience took her down an unexpected path that influenced her career development.

Thomson participated in an APPLES Service-Learning Alternative Fall Break experience (AFB) where students learn and serve outside the UNC community. AFB participants attend orientation sessions that prepare them for the challenges and issues they will confront during their service experience. Students also collaborate with community service partners, engaging in both direct and indirect services as well as advocacy work. The resulting networking, team building and project management skills are invaluable to AFB participants who benefit significantly from the intimate immersion in local communities.

For Thomson, the AFB experience nurtured an interest to further her community-focused work. As a result, after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, Thomson switched gears on her post-graduation plans and accepted a full-time position with Morehead Planetarium and Science Center (MPSC).

Hope Thompson StemvilleToday, as a community outreach educator at the planetarium, Thomson combines her passions for chemistry and civic engagement by sharing educational science programs with families in dozens of communities across North Carolina. One program the outreach team delivers is a simulated laboratory experience in classrooms at schools that are not able to visit the planetarium because of distance and/or expenses. Another program is the free summer camp that services 10 North Carolina counties. Thomson’s personal favorites are doing chemistry experiments with third and eighth-grade classrooms like Elephant Toothpaste and coordinating the STEMville Science Symposium, a half-day science conference at MPSC for students in grades four to seven.

“You cannot bring science to the middle of North Carolina, if you have never been to the middle of North Carolina,” Thomson said. AFB engages participants in the community in such a way that makes their community service meaningful. Thomson added that AFB’s immersive experience taught her the importance of understanding and respecting the diversity that helps many community initiatives succeed. “My career is as unexpected as it is rewarding, and I appreciate the role that AFB played in helping me find my best way forward.”

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.

-Carolina-

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.”

– Carolina –

An alternative spring break

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2016 APPLES Service-Learning Award recipients honored

By Janell Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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