Engaged faculty addresses identified needs

Richard Goldberg, a Faculty Engaged Scholar and research associate professor in biomedical engineering, connects his classroom teaching to the community in a meaningful way. He teaches a senior design class in which undergraduate students develop custom assistive technology devices for people with disabilities. Project ideas come from therapists and clinicians in Durham and Chapel Hill, who serve as project advisors throughout the semester. Students spend the entire semester working on the design and development of a device. At the end of the semester, they deliver their device to the therapist and client at no charge.

As a Faculty Engaged Scholar, Goldberg has sought ways to expand the impact of this program. To address additional needs in the community, he has developed a technology repair shop, in which undergraduate students repair broken assistive technology products as a student extracurricular activity. In addition, some of the completed student projects, which have been delivered to an individual or clinic, could benefit a broader audience. As a result, Goldberg has worked with several engineering firms to obtain funding through Small Business Innovation Research grants. The goal of these grants is to develop commercial products from the student design projects for individuals with disabilities. Each of these new programs will help to address real needs for assistive technology in the community.

“The Faculty Engaged Scholars program networked me with people, both on campus and off campus, who are involved in engaged scholarship. These contacts have been valuable in helping me to move forward in my own work, which involves developing custom assistive technology for people with disabilities in the community.” ~ Richard Goldberg, research associate professor, Biomedical Engineering

Outward Bound deepens service experiences

Not many people would choose to spend 28 days of their summer in the wilderness of North Carolina, but Luis Rios ’14 is not like everyone else. With the support of the Thomas James Outward Bound Scholarship Endowment, Rios and 12 other North Carolina Outward Bound Scholarship recipients were able to do exactly that and learned important lessons about themselves and service in the process.

“My Outward Bound experience has been one of the most meaningful and challenging experiences of my life thus far,” Rios said. By his own admission, the experience came at a crucial point in his college career, forcing him to bring balance to his outlook on how to move forward as a student and to challenge his own physical and emotional abilities. As a result, Rios says the program’s four pillars of physical fitness, craftsmanship, self-reliance and compassion hold greater meaning and are now incorporated into his service philosophy. Considering the impact on Rios and the other recipients, the Center’s scholarships result in enhanced leadership and service during their time at Carolina and far beyond.

“I learned that people are just people and making deep, meaningful connections requires courage to not only expose my vulnerability, but also trust that the other person will be compassionate enough to understand.” ~ Luis Rios, Outward Bound scholarship recipient

Buckley Public Service Scholar Wes Wollard immersed in service

Supporting students as they explore service beyond the scope of traditional volunteerism is a core component of the Buckley Public Service Scholars (BPSS) program, which provides a framework for undergraduates to maintain and strengthen their commitment to service. Buckley Scholar Wes Wollard ’12 used his time in the program to work with a variety of organizations, immersing himself in Carolina’s culture of service, giving back to the community and connecting those efforts to his academic experience. “My service work transformed from sporadic volunteerism to a deeper engagement that sought to have a sustained positive impact on the lives of others. I’m indebted to BPSS for the encouragement to break out of my comfort zone and [for helping me] better understand the adversity and hardships others face,” Wollard said. This type of engagement represents the distinctive nature of the BPSS program: challenging students to deepen their understanding of social issues and providing unique opportunities such as the Philanthropy as a Tool for Social Change and SMART courses and scholarships to North Carolina Outward Bound. As they graduate, Buckley Public Service Scholars prepare a portfolio project that synthesizes how their experiences and connections with organizations in the local community, across North Carolina, throughout the United States and around the world have had a lasting impact on their time at Carolina as well as their future endeavors.

“Joining the BPSS program was one of the best decisions I made in my time at Carolina.  I’m grateful for the holistic approach to service that was encouraged and taught through the program. The combination of volunteer work, classroom learning and trainings not only transformed my understanding of service but also drove the growth in my passion for it. Ultimately, my experiences through BPSS inspired my decision to work for the government following graduation.” ~ Wes Wollard, Buckley Public Service Scholar

CBPR Core receives Office of the Provost Public Service Award

As the nation’s first public university, Carolina has a long tradition of service to the state of North Carolina. Through the Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award, the Ned Brooks Award for Public Service and the Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award, the University proudly recognizes outstanding engaged service and scholarship.

In 2012, the Center established an additional Office of the Provost Award to recognize an outstanding university-community partnership. The inaugural award honored the work of the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention’s Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) Core for focusing on problem solving through model collaborative relationships.

Melvin Jackson, program director with Strengthening The Black Family, Inc. said, “In the last decade, UNC has been at the forefront in providing growing support for communitybased organizations and leaders who have skills, knowledge and training to be equitable partners in community engagement.”

Alexandra Lightfoot, director of the CBPR Core added that CBPR Core’s project Community Engagement Consulting Models: Taking Them to Scale is a perfect example of responsiveness to community concerns and the development of strong community partnerships within its governance, community and intra-university units. “This award not only recognizes the value of engaged research; it also promotes the expertise of community partners in advancing the work of communityacademic partnerships through communitybased participatory research.”

“Our academies and communities have mutual visions, values and interests that are better served when we are working together, combining our resources and talents to improve our action and learning as we create a healthier, more just and caring North Carolina.”  ~ Mac Legerton, executive director, Center for Community Action

SMART Mentoring builds relationships

When it comes to building a strong relationship and teaching useful skills, bicycling seems to have worked its magic with SMART mentor, Patrick Mateer ‘15, and his mentee. SMART Mentoring, a program developed by Volunteers for Youth, a local community organization, and the Carolina Center for Public Service, is designed to foster meaningful mentoring relationships between UNC students and 8 to 13-year-olds in the local community. Through SMART Mentoring, Mateer and his 8-year-old mentee have laid the ground work for a strong relationship by connecting on bike rides to many destinations in Chapel Hill.

From getting frozen yogurt to visiting the fire station, Mateer is proud at how confident his mentee is biking on the roads and moving about the town more independently without needing to be driven everywhere. Mateer may have taught his mentee about bicycle safety, but Mateer has also learned some very valuable communication skills. “He has taught me to be very clear about communication when you talk to someone who may not have all the same cultural norms.”

Started in the fall of 2010, SMART Mentoring is an undergraduate service-learning program that includes two sociology courses that provide a foundation for rich learning inside and outside of the classroom. Mateer enjoyed the  reflection portion of the courses, where he was able to spend time reflecting on his mentoring experiences, which ultimately led to him learning more about himself in the process.

Mateer added that being a SMART mentor has been rewarding for him during his time at Carolina. “I feel much more connected to the community and I care more about the town’s policies because they affect my mentee.”

Now in its third year, SMART Mentoring provides an engaging service-learning experience for Carolina students and structured activities for young students, creating meaningful memories that will stay with each of them forever. “It feels great to give a child an experience he or she may not have otherwise had, especially experiences you know you enjoyed as a child,” Mateer said.

Mateer embraces this commitment and values the mentor/mentee relationship because it allowed him to “learn so much from each other” and, at the same time, to learn a lot about himself and the impact he had on others during each mentoring experience.

 

Healthy Girls Save the World Bryan Social Innovation Fellowship

For Robert E. Bryan Social Innovation Fellow Camille McGirt ’13, engaging young girls in a healthy lifestyle is second nature. So it is no surprise that her Healthy Girls Save the World (HGSW) program aims to impact young girls to incorporate wholesome habits into their lives. Inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, McGirt created HGSW to address childhood obesity. HGSW provides the tools and knowledge for young girls to create and sustain a healthy and well-rounded lifestyle by collaborating with several partners, including Girls on the Run and UNC’s women’s field hockey, basketball and soccer teams.

Together, HGSW and these organizations work with girls ages 8 to 15 in communities throughout Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham to offer them free events that focus on the importance of healthy eating habits, regular exercise and chronic obesityrelated illness prevention.

“Many of our girls have never set foot on a college campus and at an age of 8 or 15 years old, we’re allowing girls to actualize going to college, exposing them to athletes and speakers that will help them learn about sports, nutrition and even build self-confidence. We are making a lasting impact in this community and we are trying to help solve a national obesity problem that is affecting our healthcare system and economy. If we can inspire these girls to play sports, do well in school, create noble relationships and eat right, then we’re successful.” ~ Camille McGirt, Bryan fellow

Faculty Engaged Scholar Patricia Garrett-Peters helps refugee children

With a passion for helping a vulnerable refugee population, Faculty Engaged Scholar Dr. Patricia Garrett-Peters, a research assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and scientist with the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, has connected with the community in a very specific way. After researching the needs of Karen refugee children from Burma who are entering the Chapel Hill Carrboro School System and the teachers who serve them, she began to work toward providing a solution.

“There were lots of great conversations with teachers about academic acculturation that helped us identify two major areas of need,” Garrett Peters said. “Teachers needed knowledge about Karen cultural norms so they could successfully integrate the children into the school environment, and the children needed a working knowledge of what western schooling was like.”

The result was teachers and researchers coming together to develop a standard set of procedures that help refugee students successfully integrate into the classroom. Ultimately, Garrett-Peters hopes to share the curriculum with other school systems across the country who are working with refugee populations. By connecting her research on the roles of poverty and chaos in the lives of children to success in the classroom, Garrett-Peters has brought the concept of engaged scholarship full circle.

“Through my work with the Faculty Engaged Scholars program, I learned that there is this great need. These kids are coming from so little with so little and there really is no way to know what they need until they get here. Anything we can do to help teachers integrate the children is important.” ~ Patricia Garrett-Peters, Faculty Engaged Scholar

 

BPSS Graduate Student Facilitator Jason Mose interacts through trainings

Faculty members and community agencies are often involved in the public service of undergraduate students, but the Buckley Public Service Scholars program has developed a distinctive way to connect graduate students in undergraduates’ efforts. Jason Mose, a Ph.D. student in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, and nine other graduate students served as skills training facilitators, providing a variety of trainings to Buckley Public Service Scholar participants. “It was refreshing to interact with a group of dynamic student leaders who have the potential to literally change the world,” Mose said. He added that while his job might have been to offer trainings to participants, he, too, took something away from the experience. “The students ended up inspiring me to look at the big picture of issues, to find my niche and fill that gap and to be a role model to others.” Through this interaction, both undergraduate and graduate students are able to strengthen their commitment to service and make an impact.

“The most rewarding experience for me working as a skills training facilitator was seeing the students really connect to the information we shared during the workshops. They wanted to know more and learn more. This made me vow to continue supporting those who have chosen to serve the community, whenever I have an opportunity.” ~ Jason Mose, skills training facilitator