On April 24, at the annual Public Service Awards event, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill honored 11 individuals and one organization for outstanding contributions to the campus and broader communities. This year’s event was held virtually due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
The Carolina Center for Public Service presented the awards, which are the Ned Brooks, Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship and Robert E. Bryan Public Service Awards.
The diverse projects conducted by this year’s award recipients include efforts to overcome socio-economic barriers to mental health services, establishment of a service-learning internship, fundraising for cancer research, development of inclusive history workshops for K-12 teachers and analysis of intersectional feminism in politically-engaged research.
Ned Brooks Award
Honoring a distinguished and sustained record of service to Carolina and the larger community
Carol Tresolini, recently retired vice provost for academic initiatives, received the 2020 Ned Brooks Award for Public Service. Known for encouraging collaboration, care and creativity during times of change, Tresolini was recognized for her legacy of connecting academic life with communities throughout North Carolina and beyond. During her years as vice provost, Tresolini worked to develop new programs and support and enhance existing programs, including the relocation of the American Indian Center into its own building and the establishment of the Carolina Latinx Center, the Partnerships in Aging Program, the Center for Faculty Excellence and the Carolina Asian American Center.
Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award
Honoring individuals and campus units for public service through engaged teaching, research and partnership
Maya Berry, assistant professor in the department of African, African American and diaspora studies, received an Office of the Provost Award for developing and leading the “Fugitive Anthropology” workshop series on race, gender violence and the politics of research. Her successful initial workshop brought together faculty and graduate students to discuss these complex topics. Berry later received a Wenner-Gren Foundation grant to design and host a more expansive workshop on gender violence and the politics of research.
Deborah Jones, professor in the department of psychology and neuroscience, received an Office of the Provost Award for her leadership of a program called Tantrum Tamers. This program grows out of Jones’s research and findings from clinical services. Through Tantrum Tamers, Jones trains graduate students in the UNC clinical psychology program to provide free, evidence-based mental health care to families of young children with behavior disorders. Tantrum Tamers includes an online therapist portal and a mobile application for clients. To date, Jones has provided ongoing clinical training to 20 graduate student therapists who have supported 169 racially and ethnically diverse North Carolina families.
Also receiving an Office of the Provost Award for research was MI-PHOTOS: Mothers Informing Pregnancy and Postpartum Health Outcomes Through Story Sharing. Led by co-principal investigators Sarah (Betsy) Bledsoe, associate professor of social work, and Katherine LeMasters, doctoral student in epidemiology, MI-PHOTOS conducts partnership-driven research. Recognizing research gaps that exist despite known health barriers and infant fatality rates in Robeson County, North Carolina, MI-PHOTOS puts the research in the hands of the subjects. Through this project, mothers capture the realities of health care for themselves and their children through pictures, discussions and storytelling.
Helyne Frederick, clinical associate professor and program director of human development and family studies in the UNC School of Education, received the Office of the Provost award for partnership. Frederick works with community partners, schools and health care programs to conceptualize meaningful projects that enable student service-learning. Students learn, research and problem-solve while developing projects addressing topics like food insecurity, maternal care, socioemotional learning and substance abuse. Through the course, community partners receive intern support and final deliverables.
Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award
Recognizing students, staff and faculty for exemplary public service efforts
Jonah Im, a sophomore biology major in the College of Arts and Sciences, received a Bryan Public Service Award for his work as founder of Cancer Med Society. Im recognized a disproportionate impact of cancer burdens for rural and low-income families in North Carolina. By calling on his peers’ enthusiasm for serving and supporting those North Carolina communities, Im founded Cancer Med Society in the fall of 2019. Im leads 120 undergraduates in cancer-related service by partnering with the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, fundraising for families and engaging the greater community in prevention and treatment education. Im has connected undergraduates with leaders in service from the UNC System and local and national nonprofits, developed members’ understanding and enthusiasm in cancer medicine and created a network of current and future change-makers.
Colin LaPrade, a graduate student in the UNC Adams School of Dentistry, received a Bryan Public Service award for his work in the Vidas de Esperanza Clinic in Siler City, North Carolina. LaPrade is passionate about addressing oral health disparities in Latinx communities through outreach programs. The Vidas de Esperanza Clinic offers free patient-centered care and prevention planning for underserved patients. Starting as a part-time volunteer, LaPrade grew into the role of organizational leader—eventually designing and implementing the clinic’s protocols for instrument sterilization and supply inventory.
Dylan Russell received a staff Bryan Award for Public Service for his role as co-founder and executive director of Lead for North Carolina, which brings the knowledge and resources of the UNC School of Government into partnerships with local governments. Russell mentors a cohort of Lead For North Carolina Fellows who have been able to increase capacity in local governments across North Carolina, many of them in the state’s most economically distressed communities. Through their work, the fellows seek to understand local challenges and implement positive changes in those governments.
Christie Norris, director of Carolina K-12, a program of Carolina Public Humanities, received a staff Bryan Award for Public Service for her development and implementation of the “Teaching Hard History” initiative. As a former K-12 teacher, Norris noticed that training on how to understand and teach complicated topics of identity, race, racism and white advantage was lacking in North Carolina—a state with an education system intrinsically bound with these “hard” topics. Partnering with the University, as well as museums, equity and education organizations, historic sites, art institutions and libraries, Norris has developed and delivered free workshops and events that have trained more than 700 teachers from North Carolina’s 100 counties.
Meg Zomorodi, assistant provost for interprofessional education and practice and professor in the UNC School of Nursing, received the Bryan Public Service Award for faculty for her work as the director of the Rural Interprofessional Health Initiative. Addressing workforce gaps and poorer health outcomes in rural counties, Zomorodi’s work benefits North Carolina’s rural health systems as well as the professional students across Carolina’s health professional schools. More than 150 interprofessional students have partnered with sites across five rural North Carolina counties and gained education and a clinical immersion experience with underserved populations. Zomorodi’s work aims to invest the University’s resources and students back into North Carolina.
Student organization Veterans Advocacy Legal Organization (VALOR) received the Bryan Public Service Award for its spring break pro bono trip. Many homeless veterans with service-related health issues who seek medical care and treatment are not fully supported due to benefit restrictions and discharge characterizations. Members of VALOR spend time over their spring break completing the intake process for service members in Asheville, North Carolina. They gather legal information to help upgrade the veterans’ U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits—working to form an active network of service members, advocates and resources.