UNC students, faculty, staff and organizations honored with public service awards

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Neighborhood engagement, promoting health literacy in the Latino community and expanding interpersonal violence prevention at UNC are some of the projects the University will recognize with 2014 Public Service Awards.

Eleven individuals and organizations representing students, faculty, staff and community partners will be honored Wednesday afternoon at the annual Public Service Awards celebration, sponsored by the Carolina Center for Public Service.

“Since its founding, UNC has been a university dedicated to public service,” said Lynn Blanchard, director of the center. “Through a variety of efforts, the work of these 11 individuals and organizations embodies this commitment, and we are proud to honor them as outstanding examples of Carolina’s engagement with the community.”

William Gentry, assistant director and executive programs director for the Community Preparedness and Disaster Management program in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, will receive the Ned Brooks Award for Public Service honoring his decades-long commitment to disaster preparedness and his impact in the field of emergency management. The award is named for Brooks, a Carolina faculty member and administrator for 40 years, in recognition of a sustained record of community service.

Three Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Awards will honor individuals and campus units:

  • Richard Goldberg, research associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, will be honored for engaged teaching. His students work with community organizations, health-care providers, teachers and job coaches to develop assistive devices for individuals with disabilities that will allow them to become more independent at work, at school, in their homes or int he community.
  • Kathryn Hunter-Williams, a lecturer in the Department of Dramatic Art, will be honored for engaged research for her work on the school-to-prison pipeline. Her project, None of the Above, explores the intersection of race, poverty, educational policies and incarceration through many different voices, including juvenile justice officials and the incarcerated.
  • The Supporting Change and Reform in Preservice Teaching in North Carolina (SCRIPT-NC), an effort of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center will be honored for community partnership with four community college early-childhood programs designed to meet the needs of all children in their communities, including those with disabilities and those who are culturally and linguistically diverse.

Four individuals and one organization will receive the Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award, recognizing exemplary public service efforts:

  • Zack Kaplan, an American studies and political science double major, works with the advocacy and outreach team at the Marian Cheek Jackson Center in Chapel Hill’s historic Northside neighborhood. His goal is to help unify the neighborhood and alleviate the disconnect between students and permanent residents there.
  • Sarah van der Horst, a physical therapy doctoral student, works with Amigas en Salud to provide health literacy and other tools, ranging from exercise classes to nutrition information, to advance the health and independence of underserved Latinas in the Triangle area.
  • Robert Pleasants, interpersonal violence prevention coordinator and adjunct assistant professor of health behavior in the Gillings School, teaches the Leadership and Violence Prevention service-learning course, and he has created the related One Act education program for violence prevention. Each semester, Pleasants places students with community and campus organizations.
  • Kelly Hogan, a senior lecturer in the Department of Biology, teaches a service-learning course geared to increase blood platelet donation awareness. Through work with the UNC Blood Donation Center, Hogan’s students focus marketing and education efforts on diverse student groups and the local community.
  • Enrich ESL, a Campus Y committee, provides English tutoring to Chapel Hill’s Latino community, fostering connections and understanding to help address injustices and build stronger communities.

The inaugural Mingma Norbu Sherpa Fellowship will be presented to senior biology major William Gerhard, for his work evaluating the effectiveness of new drinking water infrastructure systems on the Galapagos Island of San Cristobal. He also plans to work 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.

The Davis Projects for Peace Award will be presented to Multilateral Dialogue in the Prokletije/Bjeshkët e Namuna (Accursed Mountains), providing funding for senior geography major Kelsey Aho’s project to foster a multicultural dialogue promoting regional trust and stability.

Five Bryan Social Innovation Fellowships, eight Community Engagement Fellows and 12 North Carolina Outward Bound scholarship recipients will also be recognized during Wednesday’s event.

By Rhonda Beatty, Carolina Center for Public Service.