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Bryan award recipients stand with awards

The Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award honors the memory and accomplishments of alumnus Robert E. Bryan ’26 of Newton Grove, N.C., who worked his way through the University to become a successful businessman, entrepreneur and public servant.

Five Bryan Awards will be given for a specific effort (rather than an overall record) exemplifying outstanding engagement and service to the state of North Carolina that is characterized by:

  • working in partnership with community members,
  • inspiring and involving others, and/or helping others to serve,
  • responding to a practical problem, issue or concern of the state and
  • working to assure the impact in the community is lasting.

Bryan awards will be given to recognize an outstanding

  • undergraduate student,
  • graduate student,
  • faculty member,
  • staff member and
  • officially recognized student organization.

Recipients receive a $500 award and recognition at the annual Public Service Awards ceremony. Self-nominations and previous recipients of this award are not eligible. To view a list of past recipients, click the “Previous Award Recipients” button at the bottom of this page.

Nominations for the 2021 Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award open Dec. 1 and close Feb. 8. Apply online through the CCPS Application and Nomination Portal.

2020 Award Recipients


Jonah Im, a sophomore biology major in the College of Arts and Sciences, received a Bryan Public Service Award for his work as co-founder of Cancer Med Society. Im recognized a disproportionate impact of cancer burdens for rural and low-income families in North Carolina. By calling on his peers’ enthusiasm for serving and supporting those North Carolina communities, Im co-founded Cancer Med Society in the fall of 2019. Im co-leads 120 undergraduates in cancer-related service by partnering with the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, fundraising for families and engaging the greater community in prevention and treatment education. Im has connected undergraduates with leaders in service from the UNC System and local and national nonprofits, developed members’ understanding and enthusiasm in cancer medicine and created a network of current and future change-makers.


Colin LaPrade, a graduate student in the UNC Adams School of Dentistry, received a Bryan Public Service award for his work in the Vidas de Esperanza Clinic in Siler City, North Carolina. LaPrade is passionate about addressing oral health disparities in Latinx communities through outreach programs. The Vidas de Esperanza Clinic offers free patient-centered care and prevention planning for underserved patients. Starting as a part-time volunteer, LaPrade grew into the role of organizational leader—eventually designing and implementing the clinic’s protocols for instrument sterilization and supply inventory.


Meg Zomorodi, assistant provost for interprofessional education and practice and professor in the UNC School of Nursing, received the Bryan Public Service Award for faculty for her work as the director of the Rural Interprofessional Health Initiative. Addressing workforce gaps and poorer health outcomes in rural counties, Zomorodi’s work benefits North Carolina’s rural health systems as well as the professional students across Carolina’s health professional schools. More than 150 interprofessional students have partnered with sites across five rural North Carolina counties and gained education and a clinical immersion experience with underserved populations. Zomorodi’s work aims to invest the University’s resources and students back into North Carolina. 


Dylan Russell received a staff Bryan Award for Public Service for his role as co-founder and executive director of Lead for North Carolina, which brings the knowledge and resources of the UNC School of Government into partnerships with local governments. Russell mentors a cohort of Lead For North Carolina Fellows who have been able to increase capacity in local governments across North Carolina, many of them in the state’s most economically distressed communities. Through their work, the fellows seek to understand local challenges and implement positive changes in those governments.

Christie Norris, director of Carolina K-12, a program of Carolina Public Humanities, received a staff Bryan Award for Public Service for her development and implementation of the “Teaching Hard History” initiative. As a former K-12 teacher, Norris noticed that training on how to understand and teach complicated topics of identity, race, racism and white advantage was lacking in North Carolina—a state with an education system intrinsically bound with these “hard” topics. Partnering with the University, as well as museums, equity and education organizations, historic sites, art institutions and libraries, Norris has developed and delivered free workshops and events that have trained more than 700 teachers from North Carolina’s 100 counties.

Student Organization

Veterans Advocacy Legal Organization (VALOR) received the Bryan Public Service Award for its spring break pro bono trip. Many homeless veterans with service-related health issues who seek medical care and treatment are not fully supported due to benefit restrictions and discharge characterizations. Members of VALOR spend time over their spring break completing the intake process for service members in Asheville, North Carolina. They gather legal information to help upgrade the veterans’ U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits—working to form an active network of service members, advocates and resources.

2020-2021 Public Service Award Committee

Lynn Blanchard

Carolina Center for Public Service

Patricia Harris

School of Education

Meg Landfried

Department of Health Behavior

Caroline Leland

Carolina Center for Public Service

Anneliese Long

Department of Anthropology

Dylan Russell

School of Government

Denise St. Jean

Department of Epidemiology

For more information, contact Ryan Nilsen.