MacDonald Community Fellows 2019-2020


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

Madeleine Laughon is a junior from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, majoring in chemistry with a concentration in biology. As an advocate for local hunger relief and nutrition education, she has been volunteering with TABLE, Inc. in Carrboro since she was a first-year. For the past two years, 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 plans to create and direct a pilot SnackCook program that will provide new monthly cooking lessons to after-school students at Smith Middle School. SnackCook will create a way to introduce children to smart cooking habits while simultaneously expanding 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 is a senior from Ann Arbor, Michigan, majoring in environmental science with a minor in media and journalism. She has been involved as a volunteer for the UNC Center for Latino Health (CELAH) 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 has helped translate for patients during the check-in and check-out process at UNC Health Care. In collaboration with CELAH’s director, Claudia Rojas, she aims to develop 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 is a junior from Durham, North Carolina, majoring in nutrition with a minor in chemistry. She has been involved with Refugee Community Partnership (RCP) since her first year at Carolina. As a part of RCP, she has built relationships with refugee families to provide long-term support in their lives in North Carolina. Nguyen will use the MacDonald Fellowship to strengthen 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 will use her MacDonald Fellowship funds to compensate interpreters, to make them a consistent part of the program. Nguyen will also use the fellowship to create media and literature to inform both refugee members and the broader community about the partnership. Nguyen will also use the fellowship to build partnerships with public health workers and nutrition and maternal and child health professors at Carolina to create informational materials on proper prenatal nutrition that is both culturally sensitive and appropriate. Lastly, Nguyen will use the MacDonald Fellowship to collect 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 is a junior from Bethesda, Maryland, majoring in biochemistry. He has done pharmacy, medical physics and biochemistry research during his time at Carolina, as well as volunteered in UNC Hospitals and the department of chemistry as a peer mentor. With the fellowship, Jacobs is working with SOAR, a science-based outreach group on campus focused on mentoring Latino students at nearby McDougle Middle School. With SOAR, Jacobs helps prepare and teach lesson plans to students in subjects ranging from biology to physics, in ways that promote student engagement and retention. This project is one that Jacobs hopes will begin a lifelong curiosity for students and eagerness to continue to seek science in their lives and schooling.


Connecting Tar Heels with the Town of Chapel Hill
Student: Natalie Gauger
Community partner: Peoples Academy

Natalie Gauger is a junior from Greensboro, North Carolina, majoring in environmental studies and minoring in urban planning. As she is passionate about social justice and civic participation, Natalie has chosen to collaborate with the Town of Chapel Hill. She has worked with the town through volunteering and participating in the Peoples Academy, an initiative promoting civic engagement. With the opportunity from the MacDonald Fellowship, Natalie will create a student-focused Academy. This program aims 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 will consist 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 is a senior from Ridgefield, Connecticut, majoring in psychology and economics. She currently serves as treasurer for the UNC chapter of Helping Give Away Psychological Science (HGAPS), a student-based nonprofit started at Carolina in 2016 with a mission of providing evidence-based mental health resources and information to the people who would benefit. Partnering with HGAPS, Hannah is leading 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 are hoping to launch PATCH at Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools by developing a curated website that will include specialized local resources with 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 which HGAPS members will continue to 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 is a junior from Oklahoma City and Chengdu, majoring in public policy and economics with a minor in Arabic. Throughout her time at Carolina, she has had the opportunity to engage with the various refugee communities in the Triangle area. Beginning as a Bridge Builder Volunteer at Refugee Community Partnership in Carrboro, she then interned at World Relief Durham, a resettlement agency, after her sophomore year and has continued working there as a contract case worker. For the MacDonald Fellowship, Hannah will collaborate with World Relief to conduct an impact evaluation of the agency’s resettlement program from 2010 to 2015. Her hope is to center 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 is a senior from Asheboro, North Carolina, majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry and Spanish. She has been heavily involved with Hargraves Community Center by serving as a tutor and point person with Helping Youth by Providing Enrichment (H.Y.P.E.) for three years. Through this organization, Alazzam was able to build a strong relationship with the students and center staff. Using the fellowship, Alazzam will provide Hargraves with audiobook players and audiobooks to promote literacy in an enjoyable and encouraging manner. Furthermore, this project will provide students access to challenging books and allow literacy materials to become more accessible to those who utilize the community center.

Anish Bhatia is a senior from Long Island, New York, majoring in business administration with concentrations in multinational finance and entrepreneurship. He is a Kenan-Flagler GLOBE Scholar involved with the Carolina Hunger Education Activism Project (CHEAP) and 180 Degrees Consulting. While volunteering with CHEAP, Bhatia participated in meal-packing events on behalf of the Interfaith Council for Social Service (IFC) Community House, a 24-hour residential facility for men experiencing homelessness. Bhatia is using 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 (at UNC and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area) and expanded cold storage, Bhatia is assisting IFC 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 is a junior from West Palm Beach, Florida, majoring in dramatic arts and minoring in computer science. As a strong proponent of the performing arts, Guariglia is utilizing 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 with Horton Middle School, he is working in the role of a producer for a school drama production in the upcoming 2019-2020 school year, working alongside the arts teachers and staff at Horton Middle. Holding an undergraduate assistant position with Playmakers Repertory in Chapel Hill, Guariglia has been working locally alongside professional developers of the arts to find new ways to bring life-changing art to the Triangle and aims to bring the same level of passion and artistry to Horton and Chatham County over the next year and the foreseeable future.

Courtney Hedgecock is a junior from Long Island, New York, majoring in cello performance and music education. 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 recently became the Assistant Program Coordinator for the Durham site of Kidznotes where she organizes administrative responsibilities. 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 is using the MacDonald Fellowship to an organized training workshop for staff and an increase in parts inventory to reduce the time instruments are unavailable due to repair by empowering local teaching staff to quickly address minor instrument issues by performing the repair themselves onsite at Kidznotes.

Emma Hughson is a junior human development and family studies major from Colerain, North Carolina. Hughson is passionate about gender-related violence prevention and awareness. She is currently a member of Carolina Advocating for Gender Equity and Period. at UNC, both organizations that focus on bettering the community through gender equity work. She also volunteers with several violence prevention organizations in the Chapel Hill community. For the fellowship, she is partnering with John A. Holmes High School to lead several informational sessions called “Safe and Healthy Relationships.” Topics include consent, relationship violence and safe sex. Hughson is using 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 is a junior from Randallstown, Maryland, majoring in exercise and sport science with a minor in African and Afro-American studies. Nesreen Abu Khalaf is a junior from Lexington, North Carolina, majoring in computer science with minors and entrepreneurship and geography. Okeke and Khalaf are collaborating 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 celebrate good nutrition and encourage 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 is a senior from Durham, North Carolina, majoring in public policy with minors in social and economic justice and also philosophy, politics and economics. Roberson is using the MacDonald Fellowship to launch an environmental justice group with three fellow Carolina seniors. The organization, called “Strawless Chapel Hill,” works 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 is using 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 is a junior MacDonald Scholar from Jamestown, North Carolina, majoring in psychology and biology with a minor in neuroscience. 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 is a junior majoring in chemistry and minoring in history. She has been involved with UNC’s chapter of Relay For Life since her first year at Carolina. 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 is 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 is a junior from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, majoring in health policy and management and minoring in urban studies and planning. Yao has been with the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF) both as a student volunteer working with community members to reach employment, housing and financial goals as well as a member of the campus outreach team, which aims to increase campus engagement with CEF’s mission. Yao is using the fellowship to contribute to the efforts of a team of CEF Advocates that is organizing the second annual Summit on Homelessness and Poverty. The Summit’s goal is to bring together students from across the country with a shared passion and commitment to social justice in order to engage in a physical space to share and develop resources and to improve their work in their own communities by centering on the intersections of poverty and homelessness. They will explore topics such as advocating for policy change; social service gaps and how we can fill them; and race, policing and poverty. This is also an exciting opportunity to engage various local community partners to host workshops that will highlight the unique forms of organizing and advocacy in the context of the South. Yao is collaborating 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 is a junior from Henderson, North Carolina, majoring in psychology and minoring in chemistry and neuroscience. Cheever started an initiative to expand mental health resources to students through the use of a mobile application. He also started CHEAR (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 is working 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 is a senior Bonner leader with Student Coalition for Action in Literacy Education (SCALE) from Gastonia, North Carolina, majoring in both political science and peace, war and defense, and minoring in philosophy, politics and economics. The 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 will also support 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 is a first-year student from Fayetteville, North Carolina, majoring in global studies and environmental science. She is a Bonner Leader with the Dobbins Hill Community Center and volunteers as a tutor with Helping Youth by Providing Enrichment (HYPE). Estacio-Manning is using the MacDonald Community Fellowship to provide SmartGames to help students at the afterschool program incorporate cognitive skills with learning about STEM in an enjoyable way. She will also create a curriculum guide to use these games and supplies in an effective and productive way.

Finn Loendorf is a junior majoring in physics and minoring in computer science. As a first-year at UNC, 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 is a senior from Greensboro, North Carolina, majoring in public policy, and minoring in social and economic justice and marine sciences. She is involved in the Bonner Leader program, Carolina Kickoff and was a Jamie Kirk Hahn fellow. Turner is 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 is using the MacDonald Fellowship to expand fundraising efforts to offer more scholarships and build the capacity to support a growing program.