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MacDonald Community Fellows 2023-2024

Additional projects and details will be added as projects get underway.

STEM in a Box
Student: Royal Bao
Community Partner: Kidzu Children’s Museum

Royal Bao is a senior majoring in neuroscience with double minors in chemistry and medicine, literature, and culture. Royal is partnering with Kidzu Children’s Museum, an educational nonprofit organization for young children and their caregivers designed to spark learning and creativity through engaging hands-on exhibits and community-based programs. Along with participating in research focused on early childhood development and interventions for neurodiverse behaviors, she will assist the museum in developing and implementing statewide outreach boxes, with a special focus on underserved counties and regions within North Carolina. These boxes will contain comprehensive STEM teaching/learning materials and resources for educators and caregivers to integrate into their teaching and care routines and strategies. Through this project, Royal aspires to bridge the opportunity gap in STEM education for young children who live in poverty, belong to linguistic and ethnic minority groups, and experience developmental delays and disabilities to ensure children regardless of their backgrounds and abilities can fully participate in developmentally appropriate and evidence-based STEM learning opportunity.

Systemic Oral Health Improvement ProgramStudent: Tala JazairiCommunity Partner: Wake Smiles

Tala Jazairi is a senior double-majoring in biology and religious studies with a minor in chemistry. Tala has partnered with Wake Smiles, a non-profit dental clinic for uninsured adults, to enhance the success of its Systemic Oral Health Improvement Program (SOHIP). This initiative strives to educate a cohort of diabetic patients about the bidirectional relationship between systemic and oral health while promoting lasting healthy habits. By addressing the impact of diabetes on oral health upstream via educational interventions, SOHIP empowers patients to adopt healthy habits that lower their A1C levels and ultimately prevent expensive anduncomfortable treatment. Through the Macdonald Fellowship, Tala hopes to ensure that patients have the necessary tools and autonomy to develop and maintain a sustainable healthy oral hygiene routine following their involvement with SOHIP.

Supporting Mental Health Resources within the Latino Community
Student: Erika Munguia
Community Partner: El Futuro

Erika Munguia is a senior majoring in Biology with a minor in Medicine, Literature, and Culture from Durham, North Carolina. Erika is partnering with El Futuro, a nonprofit outpatient clinic in Durham that provides bilingual mental health services to Latino families. Erika started working with El Futuro during her sophomore year through her role as Community Service Co-Chair of Mi Pueblo. Through the MacDonald Fellowship, she will be working more closely with El Futuro to create workshops that will stimulate conversations about mental health and supplement available resources that address mental health wellness in the Latino community. Erika’s project aims to provide a safe space for open discourse on mental health within the Latino Community, integrate perspectives of local community members to ensure that El Futuro’s programming is reflective of local needs, and facilitate the dismantling of stigmatization surrounding mental health while simultaneously cultivating positive attitudes towards mental health resources.

Healthy Good Bowls to Help Pediatric Patients and Their Families with Cancer Care and Food Insecurity
Student: Hannah Oh
Community Partner: Equiti Foods — Good Bowls

Hannah Oh is a junior double-majoring in Nutrition and Economics with a minor in Chemistry. Hannah is partnering with Equiti Foods, a local organization committed to promoting good health by providing healthy, good-tasting, and affordable food while supporting NC farms and businesses. Additionally, Equiti Foods strives to increase the accessibility of nutritious and delicious food to everyone regardless of income through their product, Good Bowls.

Current research shows that pediatric patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment experience taste changes and crave more salty, spicy, and fatty foods due to alterations in how foods taste and feel in their mouths. As a result, pediatric families with cancer-related financial burdens are more likely to purchase lower-priced processed foods that match their taste but with poor nutritional value. Through the MacDonald Fellowship and Equiti Foods, Hannah will work on adapting Good Bowls meal flavorings to taste changes experienced by children in active chemotherapy for cancer whose families may be struggling with food insecurity given the pressures of caring for a child with a severe illness. From this project, Hannah hopes to reduce food insecurity and improve mental health for families of pediatric cancer patients by providing medically tailored Good Bowls.

Catalyst Conference Gap Year Presentation
Student: Nya Patton
Community Partner: Catalyst Conference

Nya Patton is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying Global Studies and minoring in Entrepreneurship. She will be working alongside UNC Chapel Hill. She will be partnering with the UNC Catalyst Conference for her MacDonald Fellowship. The ultimate objective of this project is to connect with dozens of North Carolinian high school students about the transformative nature of service-based gap years. She is hoping that the longer-term impact is that more local students will be informed about their potential for taking service-based gap years and will be knowledgeable about the resources available to support them in that effort.

 Identity and Food Justice Education with the Boys and Girls Club
Student: Steph Pierson
Community Partner: Marian Cheek Jackson Center and the Boys and Girls Club of Durham and Orange Counties

Steph Pierson is a senior studying History and Hispanic Studies. Steph is partnering with the Marian Cheek Jackson Center and the Boys and Girls Club of Durham and Orange Counties. The Jackson Center is a non-profit in Chapel Hill that builds community among historically-Black communities in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and the Boys and Girls Club is a non-profit organization that supports youth of all ages by providing after school enrichment. Through the MacDonald Fellowship, Steph will work with the Jackson Center to develop two educational workshop series (one on identity and one on food justice) for the Boys and Girls Club’s after school programs. They will then present the workshops to middle- and high-school students through weekly lessons at the Boys and Girls Club to help students better understand their identity and food systems around them. Steph’s main objective with these workshops is to help students build community among each other and equip them to bring lessons learned from the workshops into their schools and broader community.

Bicis para Todos
Student: Lydia Rowen
Community Partner: ReCyclery NC

Lydia Rowen is a senior majoring in Environmental Science with a minor in GIS. Lydia will be partnering with the ReCyclery NC, a nonprofit community bicycle shop in Carrboro that teaches bicycle mechanics, refurbishes unused bikes and encourages constructive community involvement. Through the MacDonald Fellowship, Lydia will work to improve the shop’s Spanish language accessibility. The main objectives of this initiative are to add bilingual functionality to the website, build up the mini library with more Spanish manuals and books and teach bike-related Spanish conversational skills to the mechanics. Lydia is excited to collaborate with her fellow mechanics in working toward language justice at the ReCyclery!

Tackling Food Insecurity One Porch at a Time
Student: Daniel Zhong
Community Partner: PORCH Communities

Daniel Zhong, a senior from Cary, NC, is pursuing a major in biostatistics at the Gillings School of Global Public Health with a minor in business at the Kenan-Flagler Business School. Daniel is partnering with PORCH Communities, a nonprofit dedicated to combatting hunger through sustainable relief programs at the local level. Operating across 35 chapters spanning 10 states, PORCH has collectively channeled over $10 million into local hunger relief endeavors. Daniel’s involvement with PORCH began during his junior year at UNC-Chapel Hill, where he showcased his leadership acumen and passion as both a dedicated student leader and intern. Building upon this foundation, Daniel’s ongoing undertaking as part of his MacDonald Fellowship project revolves around establishing a sustainable hunger relief PORCH neighborhood/chapter within eastern North Carolina. Daniel will create tools and resources for community outreach, lead educational workshops, and drive engagement via social media and public presentations. By creating a strong network of connections and resources, he aims to involve volunteers and community members in meaningful discussions on food insecurity solutions, fostering positive attitudes toward hunger relief resources and community engagement.

MacDonald Community Fellows 2022-2023

Garden Growing @BG
Student: Suzy Brito Lagunas
Community Partner: Boys and Girls Club of Central North Carolina
Advocacy for the LGBTQ+ Community in North Carolina
Student: Andrew Gary
Community Partner: Equality NC

Andrew Gary is a junior double-majoring in history and peace, war, and defense. Andrew will be partnering with Equality North Carolina, the nation’s oldest statewide LGBTQ+ advocacy group. Through Equality North Carolina and the MacDonald Fellowship, he will work to develop resources for LGBTQ youth across the state of north Carolina by encouraging young people to be civically engaged and vote in upcoming elections. Equality North Carolina advocates for policy changes that would help to advance the cause of equal rights for all.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Day for the Arts
Student: Dalia Marquez
Community Partner: SKJAJA

Dalia Marquez is a junior double-majoring in psychology and music with a minor in social and economic justice. Dalia will be partnering with SKJAJA, a non-profit based in Carrboro that aims to remove barriers to extracurricular activities and service opportunities for children that ignite their spark, deepen their connections to community, and strengthen their leadership skills. Through SKJAJA and the MacDonald Fellowship, she will work to implement an arts day for middle schoolers at Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (CHCCS) focusing on various disciplines such as voice, instrumental music, dance, photography/film, visual art, and theater. This arts day aims to increase accessibility and enrollment in arts-based classes as well as to create a more diverse student population in these programs. Ideally, this arts day will be sustained to be a yearly event and will be a collaborative effort that deepens community bonds between UNC and the surrounding district of CHCCS.

Creating Spaces to Foster Imagination Among Black Students
Student: Mariah McCann
Community Partner: we are (working to extend anti-racist education)

Art Across the Ages

Student: Cameron Myers Milne
Community Partner: The Marian Cheek Jackson Center

Cameron Myers Milne is a senior double-majoring in anthropology and Hispanic literatures and cultures. Cameron is partnering with the Marian Cheek Jackson Center, a non-profit located on West Rosemary St, that is dedicated to honoring, renewing and building community in Northside, Tin Top and Pine Knolls – historically Black neighborhoods in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Serving as co-chair on the Special Events Committee of the Jackson Center Student Leadership Group, she works alongside neighbors and students to organize events that celebrate neighborhood history and connect long-term residents with student residents. Cameron’s project aims to supplement these events with art programs and workshops that engage all neighbors, focusing specifically on intergenerational connectivity. Hopefully, the art programs – curated with the help of long-term residents and Jackson Center staff – will serve as a means of building community across the ages and honoring the neighborhoods’ past through creative expressions of communal identity in the present.

First on Scene
Student: Kirti Patel
Community Partner: UNC Campus EMS

Kirti Patel is a senior double-majoring in nutrition and economics. Patel is partnering with UNC Campus EMS – a student run EMS agency on UNC’s campus. Patel is an EMT and an AHA CPR Instructor, through the MacDonald Fellowship, Patel plans to offer CPR classes to the community. Patel is also hoping to implement a more accessible and faster method of locating where the nearest First-Aid and AEDs are to one’s current location. This project aims to make the community safer by preparing its members to act and how to act if a medical emergency were to occur in front of them.

From the HeART
Student: Isabella Pettit
Community Partners: several, including the Jamil Niner Food Pantry

Boys & Girls Clubs of Durham & Orange Counties Outdoor Education and Recreation Program
Student: Cate Schultz
Community Partners: Marian Cheek Jackson Center and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Durham & Orange Counties

Cate Schultz is a junior majoring in Human Development and Family Science and Psychology with a minor in Conflict Management. Cate volunteered this past year tutoring at the Carrboro Boys and Girls Club and fell in love with the community there. After working throughout high school teaching outdoor education at a homeless shelter, she hopes to bring this experience to the student demographic at the Boys and Girls Clubs. Cate also volunteers at UNC Children’s hospital with Wonder Connection, providing patients chances to engage in therapeutic play through science and nature activities. Her fellowship project is the implementation of a weekly after school Outdoor Education and Recreation Program, with hands-on engagement in STEM education, reflection in nature, and team-building activities. She will also assist with facilitating discussion of the oral history archives from the Jackson Center connecting black history to urban agriculture. This is a chance for this vulnerable student population to find solace, belonging, unity, and support in nature-centered activities. This provides a safe environment for them to explore, learn, play, and grow.

Youth Service-Learning Program 
Student: Matthew Tracy 
Community Partner: Cooking Up Character 

Matthew Tracy is a senior majoring in business administration with minors in data science & computer science. Matthew is the president of a social enterprise 501 (c) (3) nonprofit called Cooking Up Character which runs service-learning projects for youth in the surrounding NC community. Through the MacDonald Fellowship, he will be partnering Cooking Up Character with Crowder County Park to provide public service-learning programs to NC youth with a diverse list of learning partners teaching youth about ecosystems, physical fitness, emotional intelligence, and service all at no cost.  

Supporting the Educational Empowerment of Local Refugee Families
Students: Soorya Vasan and Rashika Rahman
Community Partner: Refugee Support Center

Soorya Vasan and Rashika Rahman are current volunteer tutors with the Refugee Support Center (RSC) in Carrboro, and the co-presidents for the UNC chapter of the organization. In addition to tutoring school-aged students and adult members of the refugee community seeking citizenship, they lead the UNC organization of over 50 members in fundraisers and educational campaigns that support and uplift the local refugee community. As MacDonald fellows, Soorya and Rashika will work to establish a library and collection of online and interactive learning resources to help students the RSC serves in enriching their weekly tutoring sessions. They hope to help encourage and foster a love for education and exploration among the school-aged children they serve and allow for more creative ways for all tutees to engage with material they work on during tutoring sessions.


MacDonald Community Fellows 2021-2022

Disability Creator Conference 
Student: Payton Chopp
Community Partner: Best Buddies NC

Payton Chopp is a senior double-majoring in psychology and human development & family studies with a minor in social and economic justice. Chopp will be partnering with Best Buddies NC through the Disability Awareness Committee, a student-run social justice organization focused on uplifting and amplifying disabled voices through intentional and inclusive research, activism and awareness resources. Through the MacDonald Fellowship, the Disability Awareness Committee plans to host a Creator Conference to build a platform for disabled people in the Triangle area to share their stories, whether that be through speaking, art, music or a creative means of their choosing. This conference will be pivotal in amplifying disabled voices, fostering a sense of community and connection for people with disabilities and raising awareness for this community among the able-bodied student population of UNC.


 縁Power – Empowering Newly Parenting Japanese Families in The Triangle
Student: Alyssa Cooper
Community Partner: Southern Bridge International — Prego Club

Alyssa Cooper is a senior double-majoring in medical anthropology and women’s and gender studies with a minor in social and economic justice from Cary, North Carolina. Cooper will be working with Southern Bridge International (SBI), a nonprofit that works to welcome and support Japanese families in adjusting to American life. Through SBI’s Prego Club, she will work to support Japanese families who are going through a very important milestone in an unfamiliar area to feel supported and comforted in their experience in navigating both cultural and language barriers in the birthing process. Through the MacDonald Fellowship, Cooper plans to provide doula services along with creating a collection of local resources and information regarding pregnancy and birth that can be easily accessed by Japanese speakers.


Wheels For Kids: Gearing Up The Community For Success 
Student: Ruth Fetaw
Community Partner: The ReCYCLEry NC

Ruth Fetaw is a senior public policy major with minors in global health and anthropology. She is currently a volunteer bike mechanic at the ReCYCLEry in Carrboro, NC. The ReCYCLEry NC is a nonprofit organization that teaches bicycle repair and maintenance skills, connects refurbished bikes to community members and strives to increase bicycle use for transportation and recreation. Through the MacDonald Fellowship, Ruth hopes to equip Black and brown kids at the Boys and Girls Club with refurbished bikes and brand new bike safety starter packs that include helmets, locks, lights, standard tools, and a bag to carry it all in. The bikes and starter packs would go towards starting the Boys and Girls Club new Bicycling Club in the Northside neighborhood! Additionally she hopes to spread awareness of the Recylery’s work and build community by creating a positive and enjoyable biking environment!

Photovoice for Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Patients
Student: Julianna Fischer
Community Partner: Carolina Pediatric Attention Love & Support (CPALS)

Julianna Fischer is a senior majoring in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in Child and Family Health and a minor in Chemistry. She will be partnering with CPALS, a service organization comprised of UNC students with a mission to provide trusting, supportive relationships with UNC Pediatric Hematology-Oncology patients and their families. Through the MacDonald Fellowship, Fischer will work with the Child Life team at UNC Hospitals and fellow CPALS members to implement a psychosocial support program based around the Photovoice method. Photovoice is a community-based participatory research method that uses photography and group dialogue as a means for individuals to document and process their experiences. Photovoice will be employed as a therapeutic technique to allow adolescent cancer patients to express their thoughts, feelings, and needs through photography, connect with peers with similar experiences, and learn creative and technical skills.

Compass Center Health Initiatives
Students: Naré Ghaltakhchyan and Aiden Puccio
Community Partner: Compass Center

Naré and Aiden are current volunteers with Compass Center; Naré has been a Domestic Violence Hotline Advocate since January 2020 and Aiden has been an Information & Referral volunteer since February 2020. They will work to further Compass Center’s values of self-sufficiency and support through expanding ideas around gender, health, and more. Through this fellowship, the two are working with the client services and educational outreach staff members at Compass Center to fill in gaps relating to sexual health regarding the availability of products, accessibility of education, and general outreach. This project will work to equip community members with the resources they deserve to prioritize their safety and healthiness in various relationships. Naré and Aiden will spearhead this project through the fellowship and will produce a long-term plan to be continued in the future.

Cherokee One Fire
Student: Benjamin Gorman
Community Partner: Tim Orr of Cherokee English Dictionary

Benjamin Gorman is a senior Neuroscience major on the pre-medical track. The Cherokee One Fire project is intended to provide an important tool in the fight to revitalize the endangered Cherokee language. We will be partnering with Cherokee educators, including Dr. Ben Frey at UNC, to substantially build upon an online resource developed by this team previously. The online resource attempts to overcome one of the major obstacles in Cherokee language education – pedagogical resource scarcity. Effective teaching requires presentations, homeworks, quizzes, activities, and other materials, and these are largely unavailable or sequestered in individuals’ file systems. The end result of this project, Cherokee One Fire, will be a large, searchable, collaborative database of Cherokee teaching materials, as well as a system for sharing any subsequently created materials in perpetuity. The project will also create new materials by recording and transcribing native colloquial language, a critical gap in the current spectrum of content.

Expanding Healthy Food Access with Agriculture Education
Student: Rhea Jayaswal
Community Partner: Inter-Faith Food Shuttle

Rhea Jayaswal is a junior studying nutrition and public health. She is partnering with Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, where she previously served as an intern. The Food Shuttle’s agriculture education programs help grow local food systems, encourage sustainable food production, and increase food access among underserved populations. Jayaswal will work to develop and disseminate physical and digital resources outlining these programs. This is to help those who may not know these food options exist or those who do not have internet access, which she found is a common problem when speaking with participants in rural areas. In addition, she will work with community members to assemble a cookbook with a focus on healthy eating. The goal of this is to increase the health and nutrition impacts of existing agriculture education programs while ensuring recipes are relevant and culturally appropriate.

Basic Data Navigation
Student: Ali Khan
Community Partner: Patient and Family Resource Center — UNC Lineberger

Ali Khan is a senior biostatistics major in the Gillings School of Global Public Health with a minor in chemistry from Charlotte, North Carolina. Since 2019, Khan has volunteered as a patient navigator with the Patient & Family Resource Center (PFRC), a multidisciplinary team of hospital staff and trained volunteers designed to connect oncology patients with resources to reduce healthcare barriers. By integrating his biostatistics background, his primary goal was to substantially impact the PFRC to open a new realm in managing and improving patient care. Khan published a research paper describing a new proactive, virtual navigation model utilizing online support calls to provide interventions for cancer patients during the pandemic. Desiring to continue this endeavor, Khan will develop Basic Data Navigation, an interactive educational program that will ensure volunteers and medical teams understand the importance of data comprehension and have the necessary tools to collect data in the future.

Safe Art Packets for Children
Student: Maddie Mizelle
Community Partner:  Kids and Teens Sibling Support Group at UNC Children’s Hospital

Maddie Mizelle is majoring in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in Child and Family Health, which is an interdisciplinary field of psychology, sociology, and the allied health fields, and minoring in Studio Art. Combining both her passion for art and mental health awareness, Mizelle is creating safe art packets for the children in the psychiatric unit at UNC Children’s Hospital, as well as a model for future donations to pediatric psychiatry.

Food for Thought
Student: Alecia Rajesh
Community Partner: Serve336 of Calvary Church of Greensboro

Alecia Rajesh is a senior from Summerfield, North Carolina, majoring in biology with minors in business administration and chemistry. Rajesh works with Serve336 of Calvary Church of Greensboro, a ministry that serves individuals in need with food, clothing and other necessities. Through the MacDonald Fellowship, Rajesh plans to supplement the available resources to be distributed and to develop and incorporate elements of nutrition education into the food distribution. She hopes the project will benefit the community by fulfilling essential needs and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices.

Student Leadership Summit
Student: Rianna Saslow
Community Partner: Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools Office of Equity and Inclusion

Rianna Saslow is a senior double-majoring in educational equity and political science. Saslow will be partnering with the CHCCS Office of Equity and Inclusion – an organization that aims to empower students, close the achievement gap, and pursue a more equitable education system. Through the MacDonald Fellowship, Saslow plans to host an experiential learning opportunity devoted to cultivating the next wave of social activists in Chapel Hill. Students will be encouraged to think critically about the changes they’d like to see within their schools, particularly those related to equity and inclusion. Not only will this summit spark ideas among student leaders, but it will also equip them with practical strategies to implement these ideas. Students will leave this experience with a better understanding of their role and responsibility as leaders within their schools as well as a drive and action plan for how to move forward.

Memorial Fund
Student: Jessica Uba
Community Partner: Community Empowerment Fund

Jessica Uba is a junior majoring in health policy and management with a minor in chemistry. She is currently an advocate fellow at the Community Empowerment Fund, a non-profit organization with a mission to provide relationship-based support to enable and sustain transitions out of homelessness and poverty. Through the MacDonald Fellowship, Jessica hopes to support the Community Empowerment Fund in cultivating a memorial fund. This fund is designed to alleviate some of the financial barriers in place for lower-income families during the death of a loved one.


MacDonald Community Fellows 2020-2021

Hope for the Hopeless
Student: Ariel Bryant
Community Partner: Miracle Temple Deliverance Ministries

Ariel Bryant was a Fellow as a senior studying nursing. Through this fellowship, Bryant worked with Miracle Temple Deliverance Ministries in her hometown of Burgaw, NC to provide a day of meals to those in need in the Pender County and surrounding areas during the winter holiday season. The project also worked to connect those families to other resources such as clothing, housing or job opportunities in their community. Bryant hoped that the meals would provide a sense of love and support to her community especially during a challenging year. She expected that this project would grow to something bigger and more sustainable in the future, such as a food pantry or more frequent meal distribution.


SMART Mentoring Community Care Packages
Student: Tori Dunlap
Community Partner: Volunteers for Youth – SMART Mentoring

Tori Dunlap was a Fellow as a senior double-major studying sociology as well as human development and family studies. Since fall 2018, Dunlap had been a mentor, a teacher’s assistant and a co-chair for SMART Mentoring, a program that offers free mentoring for young children in the Chapel Hill and Carrboro communities. SMART selects college students each year to serve as mentors for local youth. Through the McDonald Fellowship, Dunlap hoped to provide resources to relieve the economic strain experienced by the families that the SMART mentees represent. Additionally, she hoped to see stronger ties developed between the mentees and mentors who help assemble the packages. Dunlap is from Charlotte, North Carolina.


Sam-Johnson-MacDonald-Fellow-Headshot Think Pink: More than a Diagnosis
Student: Sam Johnson
Community Partner: The Pink Bowz

This project was unfortunately canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Sam Johnson was a Fellow as a junior biology and public policy major with a concentration in international development policy from Wilmington, North Carolina. Johnson had been working with The Pink Bowz since his first year to help support women and families affected by a breast cancer-related diagnosis. The Pink Bowz provides resources for the day-to-day challenges associated with a cancer diagnosis, such as transportation costs, hotel accommodations and, in some cases, child care during treatment. Johnson developed grant proposals, hosted fundraising events and formed connections in the Chapel Hill community for The Pink Bowz. He worked to host a formal gala, Think Pink: More than a Diagnosis, on Carolina’s campus hosting regionally and nationally recognized physicians, cancer survivors and students to hear about cancer education and the important work being done in our community.


Valerie-Nguyen-MacDonald-Fellow-Headshot Children’s Oncology Online Programming (C.O.O.P)
Student: Valerie Nguyen
Community Partner: UNC CPALS

Valerie Nguyen was a Fellow as a junior biology and medical anthropology major with a minor in chemistry from Centreville, Virginia. As a sibling of a childhood cancer patient and passionate advocate, she started a childhood cancer club at her high school and sustained her efforts in college with UNC CPALS. CPALS is a service organization composed of UNC students whose mission is to provide trusting, supportive relationships with pediatric hematology-oncology patients and their families. Nguyen led fundraising, worked in the pediatric oncology clinic, had a 1:1 pal and served as the CPALS vice-president for the 2020-21 school year and president in her senior year. Nguyen launched project C.O.O.P to build a support network for childhood cancer patients and expand 1:1 relationships between college students and patients extending beyond physical distance. This was accomplished by weekly online activities and monthly virtual support groups carefully tailored to meet the patient’s needs and desires.


Technology for Online Music Lessons
Student: Mollie Pepper
Community Partner: Musical Empowerment

Mollie Pepper was a Fellow as a senior economics and global studies major with a minor in computer science from Charlottesville, Virginia. She was a violin teacher with the UNC Chapter of Musical Empowerment since the fall of her first year at Carolina and led the marketing and development committee since the spring of 2019. Musical Empowerment is a national nonprofit organization that provides free, one-on-one music lessons and mentorship to children in the local community who could not otherwise afford a musical education. Through the McDonald fellowship, Pepper hoped to provide some of their nearly 200 students with the technology and skills necessary to successfully facilitate online lessons and to help teachers maximize their efficacy in the new online format.


Birth Partners Postpartum Support Initiative
Student: Fariha Rahman
Community Partner: UNC Birth Partners

Fariha Rahman was a Fellow as a senior health policy and management major with minors in chemistry and biology from Raleigh, North Carolina. As an advocate for women’s health, she volunteered with UNC Birth Partners at UNC Hospitals. Since 2019, Rahman served as a volunteer doula where she supported mothers throughout their labor and delivery. Through the MacDonald Fellowship, Rahman planned to create and partake in a pilot Postpartum Doula Program that would train and enable volunteer doulas to take on a non-medical role in supporting mothers after their delivery. The Postpartum Doula Program was designed to help volunteer doulas establish a continuum of care while particularly helping mothers who are alone or require increased support post-delivery.


Public Health Art Show & Exhibition (PHASE)
Student: Dillon Rubalcava
Community Partners: Orange County Rape Crisis Center and GlobeMed at UNC-Chapel Hill

Dillon Rubalcava was a Fellow as a senior psychology and biology major with a neuroscience minor from Jamestown, North Carolina. PHASE was an annual event in its third year of implementation as a collaboration between the Orange County Rape Crisis Center and GlobeMed at UNC-Chapel Hill. PHASE hopes to support local artists in expressing their experiences and feelings regarding any area of public health to which they have a strong personal connection. PHASE hopes to amplify these artists and encourage them to use their work to facilitate possibly “uncomfortable” conversations amongst members in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community. PHASE supports the mission of the OCRCC through an emphasis on education and advocacy for sexual health specifically, though the group invites artists interested in any field of public health and all art mediums to participate in the show. PHASE also serves to connect students and community members to the OCRCC and other local public-health partners. Lastly, the group encourage artists to donate their art to be a part of the OCRCC’s annual Holiday Auction fundraiser event.


MacDonald Community Fellows 2019-2020

Elyse ArmstrongComputer Literacy Project at El Centro
Student: Elyse Armstrong
Community partner: El Centro Hispano

Elyse Armstrong was a Fellow as a senior global studies and geography major with a minor in social and economic justice from Hickory, North Carolina, Through the MacDonald Fellowship, she created the Computer Literacy Project at El Centro Hispano. The Project provided computers to enable Hispanic/Latinx day workers to learn how to operate computers, utilize the internet and work towards obtaining GEDs online. The goal of this program was to increase computer literacy for Hispanic/Latinx day laborers within the Carrboro-Chapel Hill area so that they may pursue higher education or other professional opportunities. This course provided clients with the opportunity to enroll in Plazas Comunitarias, through which students earn elementary and middle school certificates. After earning these certificates, they can take classes to prepare for HiSET exams to receive their high school equivalency diploma.


Headshot of a young woman with large round glasses and long blond hairSnackCook
Student: Madeleine Laughon
Community partner: TABLE, Inc.

Madeleine Laughon was a Fellow as a junior chemistry major with a concentration in biology from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. As an advocate for local hunger relief and nutrition education, she volunteered with TABLE, Inc. in Carrboro since her first year at UNC-Chapel Hill. Laughon has led weekly nutritional lessons through TABLE’s SnackChef program. SnackChef provides food to local after-school programs and aims to teach kids how to make fun, healthy snacks while also incorporating an engaging nutritional activity. Through the MacDonald Fellowship, Laughon created and directed a pilot SnackCook program to provide new monthly cooking lessons to after-school students at Smith Middle School. SnackCook introduced children to smart cooking habits and simultaneously expanded the range of foods available to prepare each week.


Headshot of a young woman, smiling, with long medium-brown hairSalud
Student: Veronica Correa
Community partner: UNC Center for Latino Health

Veronica Correa was a Fellow as a senior environmental science major with a minor in media and journalism from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She had volunteered for the UNC Center for Latino Health since the summer of 2018. CELAH’s mission is to provide culturally relevant and high-quality medical care for Spanish-speaking patients from throughout North Carolina. Through her volunteer position, Correa helped translate for patients during the check-in and check-out process at UNC Health Care. In collaboration with CELAH’s director, Claudia Rojas, Correa developed Salud, a comprehensive online platform with Spanish-language resources for medical needs.


A young woman with black hair smiles in front of a snowy mountain range.RCP-Doula Partnership
Student: Victoria Nguyen
Community partner: Refugee Community Partnership

Victoria Nguyen was a Fellow as a junior nutrition major with a chemistry minor from Durham, North Carolina. Having been involved with Refugee Community Partnership since her first year at Carolina, Nguyen built relationships with refugee families to provide long-term support in their lives in North Carolina. As a MacDonald fellow, Nguyen strengthened RCP’s partnership program with UNC Doulas, which provides support to pregnant refugee mothers during delivery. The key component of the RCP-Doula Partnership is providing in-person interpreters who are refugee community members themselves. These individuals are not only language interpreters, but cultural interpreters as well. Nguyen used her MacDonald Fellowship funds to compensate interpreters, to make them a consistent part of the program. Nguyen also created media and literature to inform both refugee members and the broader community about the partnership. She built partnerships with public health workers and nutrition and maternal and child health professors at Carolina to create informational materials on proper prenatal nutrition that was both culturally sensitive and appropriate. Lastly, Nguyen collected qualitative and quantitative reporting on the outcomes of this program.


A young man stands in front of an academic poster, gesturing towards it as he speaks.Teaching Through SOAR
Student: Harrison Jacobs
Community partner: SOAR

Harrison Jacobs was a Fellow as a junior biochemistry major from Bethesda, Maryland. Before the MacDonald Fellowship, Jacobs participated in pharmacy, medical physics and biochemistry research at UNC-Chapel Hill and volunteered in UNC Hospitals and the department of chemistry as a peer mentor. As a MacDonald fellow Jacobs worked with SOAR, a science-based outreach group on campus focused on mentoring Latino students at nearby McDougle Middle School. With SOAR, Jacobs prepared and taught lesson plans to students in subjects ranging from biology to physics using pedagogy to promote student engagement and retention. Jacobs hoped that the project spurred lifelong curiosity for students and eagerness of students to continue to seek science in their lives and schooling.


A young woman with long brown hair, smilingConnecting Tar Heels with the Town of Chapel Hill
Student: Natalie Gauger
Community partner: Peoples Academy

Natalie Gauger was a Fellow as an environmental studies major with an urban planning minor from Greensboro, North Carolina. Passionate about social justice and civic participation, Natalie collaborated with the Town of Chapel Hill. She volunteered and contributed to the Peoples Academy, an initiative promoting civic engagement. With the opportunity from the MacDonald Fellowship, Natalie created a student-focused Academy. This program aimed to increase student and town interactions, connect students with professional opportunities and empower students to feel safe in their community. The first of its kind, the Academy consisted of workshops, demonstrations by Town departments and activities to educate students about their community and local government.


Headshot of a smiling young woman with long dark hairPATCH at Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools
Student: Hannah Kim
Community partner: Helping Give Away Psychological Science

Hannah Kim was a Fellow as a senior psychology and economics major from Ridgefield, Connecticut. At the time, she was the treasurer for the UNC-Chapel Hill chapter of Helping Give Away Psychological Science (HGAPS), a student-based nonprofit started at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2016 with a mission of providing evidence-based mental health resources and information to the people who would benefit. Partnering with HGAPS, Hannah led a new school mental health initiative, Psychology and Teen Counseling Help (PATCH), to help high school students access discreet, free mental health resources online anywhere and anytime. With support from the MacDonald Fellowship, Hannah and HGAPS launched PATCH at Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools by developing a curated website with local resources and links to broader online tools, organizations and other resources that have been curated by HGAPS in the past. This initial collaboration during Spring 2020 will serve as a pilot model that HGAPS members will improve upon and expand to other school systems in following years.


MacDonald Community Fellows 2018-2019

hanan-alazzam-macdonald-fellow-headshotHanan Alazzam was a MacDonald Fellow as a senior biology major with chemistry and Spanish minors from Asheboro, North Carolina. She had been heavily involved with Hargraves Community Center by serving as a tutor and point person with Helping Youth by Providing Enrichment for three years. Through this organization, Alazzam was able to build a strong relationship with the students and center staff. Using the fellowship, Alazzam provided Hargraves with audiobook players and audiobooks to promote literacy in an enjoyable and encouraging manner. Furthermore, this project provided students access to challenging books and allowed literacy materials to become more accessible to those who utilize the community center.

anish-bhatia-macdonald-fellow-headshotAnish Bhatia was a MacDonald Fellow as a senior business administration major with concentrations in multinational finance and entrepreneurship concentrations from Long Island, New York. He was a Kenan-Flagler GLOBE Scholar involved with the Carolina Hunger Education Activism Project and 180 Degrees Consulting. While volunteering with CHEAP, Bhatia participated in meal-packing events on behalf of the Interfaith Council for Social Service Community House, a 24-hour residential facility for men experiencing homelessness. Bhatia used the fellowship to support the FoodFirst initiative by helping to consolidate IFC’s Community Kitchen and Food Pantry services and alleviate food insecurity through increasing access to affected Orange County residents. Through volunteer-targeted marketing and expanded cold storage, Bhatia assistedIFC in working toward its goals of serving 1,000 more meals every month; hosting more families; and accepting more fresh vegetables, fruit, meats, eggs and dairy to reduce waste and provide on average 25 percent more groceries to each served family.

Nicholas-Guariglia-macdonald-fellow-headshotNicholas Guariglia was a MacDonald Fellow as a junior dramatic arts major witha computer science major from West Palm Beach, Florida. As a strong proponent of the performing arts, Guariglia utilized the fellowship as a way to promote the growth of arts programs in the public education system in North Carolina in the face of constantly depleting public funding for arts education. Partnering with the Chatham County Arts Council and Jordan-Matthews High School, his alma mater, Nicholas acted as co-producer with the JMArts Program and as the technical director of The Lottery, a play based on the short story written by Shirley Jackson and dramatized by Brainerd Duffield.

courtney-hedgecock-macdonald-fellow-headshotCourtney Hedgecock was a MacDonald Fellow as a junior cello performance and music education major from Long Island, New York. She began volunteering at Kidznotes, a nonprofit music for social change program located in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill/Carrboro, in January 2018 and throughout the summer. She became the Assistant Program Coordinator for the Durham site of Kidznotes. Kidznotes engages students, pre-K through 12th grade, in an intense, fully integrated, out-of-school musical program that includes instrumental instruction, choir, music theory, general music, orchestra and band. Kidznotes invites under-served children to engage in long-term, rigorous music curriculum to support their overall academic and social success. Through her work, she noticed that many of the instruments that are donated often need repair to make them functional for instruction. Existing instruments often break, requiring minor repair for continued student use. She used the MacDonald Fellowship to create an organized training workshop for staff and to increase the parts inventory. She reduced the time instruments are unavailable due to repair by empowering local teaching staff to quickly address minor instrument issues.

emma-hughson-macdonald-fellow-headshotEmma Hughson was a MacDonald Fellow as a junior human development and family studies major from Colerain, North Carolina. Passionate about gender-related violence prevention and awareness, Hughson was a member of Carolina Advocating for Gender Equity and Period. at UNC-Chapel Hill, both organizations that focus on bettering the community through gender equity work. She volunteered with several violence prevention organizations in the Chapel Hill community. She is partnered with John A. Holmes High School to lead several informational sessions called “Safe and Healthy Relationships.” Topics included consent, relationship violence and safe sex. Hughson used fellowship funds and support to make sure that students in rural Eastern North Carolina have the resources and skills to engage in safe and healthy relationships throughout their lives.

Kamtochi-Okeke-Nesreen-Abu-Khalaf-macdonald-fellow-headshots-side-by-sideKamtochi Okeke was a MacDonald fellow as an exercise and sports science major with a minor in African and Afro-American studies from Randallstown, Maryland. Nesreen Abu Khalaf was a MacDonald Fellow as a junior from Lexington, North Carolina, majoring in computer science with minors and entrepreneurship and geography. Okeke and Khalaf collaborated for their fellowship project on Family TABLE, a set of family engagement events between TABLE’s staff and volunteers and the families of the children that participate in TABLE’s programs. The project was established as an effort to improve the responsiveness and long term impact of TABLE services, and the events are designed to foster connection and partnership between TABLE and the local community by engaging in meaningful dialog about the experiences and expectations the families have with TABLE. In addition, the events celebrated good nutrition and encouraged families to make healthy eating choices all year long by both showcasing the accomplishments of SnackChef students and by providing them with resources and toolkits to take an individual approach to nutrition education when school’s out.

john-roberson-macdonald-fellow-headshotJohn Roberson was a MacDonald Fellow as a senior public policy major with social and economic justice and philosophy, politics and economics minors from Durham, North Carolina. Roberson used the MacDonald Fellowship to launch an environmental justice group with three fellow Carolina seniors. The organization, called “Strawless Chapel Hill,” worked with local restaurants to promote their sustainable practices and show other local businesses that reducing their plastic footprint is financially viable in Chapel Hill. Partnering with the UNC campus chapter of NCPIRG, Strawless used a three-pronged approach to fight plastic pollution: collect petition signatures, canvas local businesses and promote sustainable practices through its social media and website.

jessica-thompson-at-relay-for-life-fundraiserJessica Thompson was a MacDonald Fellow as a junior chemistry major with a history minor. She had been involved with UNC’s chapter of Relay For Life since her first year at UNC-Chapel Hill. Relay For Life is a year-long fundraiser that benefits the American Cancer Society (ACS) which culminates in a main event in April that reveals all the money raised that year. ACS serves cancer patients and their families across the nation by funding research, providing patient lodging and offering rides to treatment, along with other programs. Relay For Life aims to support these efforts and raise awareness for the everyday challenges faced by cancer patients, caregivers and families. For the fellowship, Thompson funded a gala for UNC Relay’s spring fundraising and advocacy event. The gala was casino themed and included card tables, a silent auction and dinner. The event also included a guest speaker who was nine months cancer-free and a UNC student. This event aimed to raise money toward Relay’s $100,000 year-long fundraising goal as well as encourage community and student involvement in the main event.

joyce-yao-at-cef-eventJoyce Yao was a MacDonald Fellow as a junior health policy and management major with an urban studies and planning minor from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Yao had been with the Community Empowerment Fund both as a student volunteer and a member of the campus outreach team. Yao contributed to the efforts of a team of CEF Advocates that was organizing the second annual Summit on Homelessness and Poverty. The Summit’s goal was to bring together students from across the country with a shared passion and commitment to social justice to develop their projects. They explored topics such as advocating for policy change; social service gaps and how we can fill them; and race, policing and poverty. This engaged various local community partners to host workshops that highlighted the unique forms of organizing and advocacy in the context of the South. Yao collaborated with the following other students to complete her fellowship project: Megan Miller, junior, environmental health major; Nick McKenzie, senior health policy and management major; Connie Longmate, senior health policy and management major; and Sean Nguyen, sophomore history major.

MacDonald Community Fellows 2017-2018

Ray Cheever was a MacDonald Fellow as a junior psychology major with minors in chemistry and neuroscience from Henderson, North Carolina. Cheever started an initiative to expand mental health resources to students through the use of a mobile application. He also started Carrboro High Engineering Association of Rocketeers at Carrboro High School to help students design and build rockets through an engineering program. Using the MacDonald Fellowship, Cheever worked with CHEAR and local middle schools to expand this project and help younger students in the community learn about rocket-building and STEM fields in a fun and interactive way.

Erica Day was a MacDonald Fellow as a senior political science and peace war and defense major with a philosophy, politics and economics minor from Gastonia, North Carolina. She was a Bonner leader with the Student Coalition for Action in Literacy Education. SCALE is a literacy and social-justice based nonprofit serving vulnerable populations who are disadvantaged due to their background and shortcomings in our education system. Day applied for this fellowship to assist with a Free Little Libraries initiative to build small libraries and place them in areas of the community that lack access to books. The MacDonald Fellowship supported programming for A Day of Reading to raise awareness about literacy. Additional students supporting this project include Areej Hussein, a junior nutrition major from Greensboro, North Carolina, and Felix Evans, a sophomore environmental science studies major from St. Louis, Missouri.

Anayancy Estacio-Manning was a MacDonald Fellow as a first-year global studies and environmental science major from Fayetteville, North Carolina. She was a Bonner Leader with the Dobbins Hill Community Center and volunteered as a tutor with Helping Youth by Providing Enrichment (HYPE). Estacio-Manning used the MacDonald Community Fellowship to provide SmartGames to help students at the after-school program incorporate cognitive skills with learning about STEM in an enjoyable way. She created a curriculum guide to use these games and supplies in an effective and productive way.

Finn Loendorf was a MacDonald Fellow as a junior physics major with a computer science minor. As a first-year at UNC-Chapel Hill, Loendorf began tutoring with Boomerang Youth Inc. which inspires youth to bounce back from challenges and become resilient, independent young people. Loendorf was impressed with the Boomerang program because students are supported both in their school work, and in all aspects of their lives, with workshops on healthy relationships, stress management, and more. Using the MacDonald Fellowship Loendorf was able to design and implement a week long summer camp, called “STEAM,” at Boomerang Youth to increase exposure and interest in science topics for low-income middle school students identified through the Family Success Alliance. After the week long program, students headed back to school with a renewed excitement for learning and an established support system for future academic success.

Tiffany Turner was a MacDonald Fellow as a senior public policy major with social and economic justice and marine sciences minors from Greensboro, North Carolina. She was involved in the Bonner Leader program, Carolina Kickoff and was a Jamie Kirk Hahn fellow. Turner served as the executive director of the nonprofit Pupusas for Education, which partners with a local food truck, So Good Pupusas, to provide scholarships for undocumented students. Turner used the MacDonald Fellowship to expand fundraising efforts to offer more scholarships and build the capacity to support a growing program.