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MacDonald Community Fellows 2020-2021

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

Sam Johnson is a junior biology and public policy major with a concentration in international development policy from Wilmington, North Carolina. Johnson has 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 has developed grant proposals, hosted fundraising events and formed connections in the Chapel Hill community for The Pink Bowz. He is working 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 is 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 has 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 has led fundraising, worked in the pediatric oncology clinic, has had a 1:1 pal and will serve as the CPALS vice-president for the 2020-21 school year and president in her senior year. Nguyen will launch 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 will be 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 is a senior economics and global studies major with a minor in computer science from Charlottesville, Virginia. She has been a violin teacher with the UNC Chapter of Musical Empowerment since the fall of her first year at Carolina and has led the marketing and development committee since the Spring of 2019. Musical Empowerment is a national non-profit 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 hopes 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 is 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 volunteers with UNC Birth Partners at UNC Hospitals. Since 2019, Rahman has served as a volunteer doula where she supports mothers throughout their labor and delivery. Through the MacDonald Fellowship, Rahman plans to create and partake in a pilot Postpartum Doula Program that will train and enable volunteer doulas to take on a non-medical role in supporting mothers after their delivery. The Postpartum Doula Program will help volunteer doulas establish a continuum of care while particularly helping mothers who are alone or require increased support post-delivery.


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.



Headshot of a laughing young woman with chin-length brown hair, standing in front of brightly colored pop artImpact Evaluation for World Relief Durham
Student: Hannah Olmstead
Community partner: World Relief Durham

Hannah Olmstead was a fellow as a junior public policy and economics major with an Arabic minor from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Chengdu. Throughout her time at Carolina, she engaged with the various refugee communities in the Triangle area. Having worked as a Bridge Builder Volunteer at Refugee Community Partnership in Carrboro, she interned at World Relief Durham and continued working there as a contract case worker. For the MacDonald Fellowship, Hannah collaborated with World Relief to conduct an impact evaluation of the agency’s resettlement program from 2010 to 2015. She centered her interviews and focus groups on the families’ experience of resettlement, both its successes and its failures. By the end of the project, World Relief will have usable data about the long-term health and well-being of their former clients, as well as a richer sense of the communities’ needs and values.

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.

dillon-rubalcava-macdonald-fellow-headshotDillon Rubalcava was a MacDonald Fellow as a junior psychology and biology major with a neuroscience minor from Jamestown, North Carolina. Rubalcava previously began an annual event that promoted discussion around the theme of sexual health, known as the Sexual Health Art Show. The show’s goal was to portray the many aspects of maintaining and ensuring sexual health for all people, whether in the U.S. or otherwise. For this event, Rubalcava recruited several local artists and encouraged them to make pieces on sexual health topics such as safe sex practices, sexual abuse and sexuality using any art medium of their choosing. He received a lot of support from the Orange County Rape Crisis Center (OCRCC), and with the help of the MacDonald Fellowship, he will be building this into a sustainable event that gives artists a platform to professionally present their work before donating the pieces to the OCRCC for its annual holiday auction.

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.