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

At least five Bryan Awards are given each year 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 at minimum 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. Previous recipients of Public Service Awards 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 2025 Robert E. Bryan Public Service Awards are accepted from November 2024 until mid-February 2025 in the CCPS Application and Nomination Portal or through completing the Public Service Award Nomination Form fillable pdf and emailing it to

Have questions? Visit our PSA FAQs

2023 Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award Recipients


Junior Jayla Cobbs, Public Policy and Political Science Dual Major, College of Arts and Sciences, was recognized with the undergraduate Bryan Award for her outstanding work and leadership in the Community Outreach Committee of UNC Campus EMS. Cobbs came to Carolina as a transfer student, and in only two years, she has distinguished herself with Campus EMS and leads the Community Outreach Committee. In that role, she has led efforts to promote community education of CPR and Naloxone awareness on campus; piloting the first CPR, first aid and Naloxone training courses for UNC SafeWalk; supervising 30+ EMTs and training 400 UNC students, faculty and staff in CPE, AED use and first aid. She re-designed the entire CPR education course and led efforts to increase accessibility to CPR training for students, faculty and staff.

Her supervisor and nominator Sarah Torzone wrote, “Ms. Cobbs re-designed the entire CPR education course and spearheaded efforts to make CPR training accessible for students, staff and faculty. This involved reaching out to countless student organizations and academic departments to gain their involvement in the free CPR courses UNC EMS teaches on campus.”


Ricky Pimentel, Doctoral Candidate in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State University, was recognized with the graduate student Bryan Award for outstanding community engagement and contributions through his work at the ReCyclery, and his leadership in cofounding Latinx in Biomechanix.

ReCyclery aims to increase the use of bicycles for transportation and recreation. Pimentel instructs community members, especially those with limited budgets, on the repair and refurbishment of bicycles, and he has raised more than $20,000 since the height of the pandemic for ReCyclery to continue its mission.

Latinx in Biomechanix (LiB) increases the representation of Latinx individuals in the collective fields of biomechanics and movement science. Pimentel has organized numerous virtual and in-person social and networking events with international reach, written a successful grant to build capacity for LiB, organized a leadership retreat and established federal non-profit status for the organization.

Jason Franzs, associate professor for the joint school of Biomedical Engineering, said in his nomination, “Through both of these activities, Ricky has successfully established strong partnerships with community members, inspired others in their mission to serve, responded to urgent and significant needs and worked to ensure the sustainability of his significant service activities to our local, regional, and global communities.”


Aaron Bachenheimer, Executive Director of Off-Campus Student Life and Community Partnerships, received the staff Bryan Award in recognition of his years of dedicated service and collaboration in building town and gown relationships with a wide array of organizations, including the Campus & Community Coalition, Marion Cheek Jackson Center, Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, the Good Neighbor Initiative, the Town of Chapel Hill and other community partners to ensure the University is an authentic partner with the community.

Bachenheimer is a primary coordinating partner with the Good Neighbor Initiative, which brings community partners together to reduce the likelihood of problems between neighbors and reduce visits from the police, problems that have been exacerbated by a recent sharp increase in investor-owned property in the local area over the past decade. In recognition of his work, he was named a Hometown Hero by WCHL in October 2022.

Nominator Elinor Landess said, “Facilitating weekly meetings about COVID concerns with off-campus students, liaising with partners in the Town of Chapel Hill and making personal visits to students in violation of the COVID executive orders, Aaron has worked tirelessly to ensure the University is showing up with integrity in the community.”


Molly Berkoff, Professor of Pediatrics, Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and Medical Director, Child Medical Evaluation Program, School of Medicine, was recognized with the faculty Bryan Award for significant contributions to creating high-quality services for North Carolina children who have experienced abuse and neglect. Berkoff established a statewide network of child abuse consultants and regionally based teams of child welfare social workers who assess and support children experiencing abuse and neglect. Through the Child Medical Evaluation Program, Berkoff works closely with community and statewide partners to set policy for child abuse assessments.  Her additional work with community-based partners across the state includes serving as the Medical Director for the Children’s Health and Development Program in Wake County, where she supports the care of foster children. She also works with the Southern Regional Area Health Education Center to provide child abuse evaluations in Fayetteville.

In her nomination, Kori Flower wrote, “Dr. Berkoff’s work in partnership with the North Carolina Division of Social Services has had an enormous impact on the health and well-being of children throughout the state over the past two decades.”


The Carolina Indian Circle was recognized with the student organization Bryan Award for uplifting Indigenous voices on and off campus through outreach and community engagement efforts, such as the Carolina Indian Circle Pow Wow and Indian 101 in schools. Carolina students formed the Carolina Indian Circle in 1974 to build a support network for Native American students and to share their culture with the rest of the campus. Today, their mission includes not only assisting Native American Indian students academically and socially by providing a positive atmosphere and a sense of community, but also educating the university community and the general public by ensuring that Native American cultural heritage is recognized and respected at UNC-Chapel Hill through appropriate curriculum, research, administrative support, cultural events and increased American Indian representation on the faculty and staff.

In nominating the organization, the staff of the American Indian Center had this to say: “The CIC has a long history of advocacy and presence on Carolina’s campus. The current students continue that work by uplifting Indigenous voices and ensuring that the greater Carolina community understands the historical and contemporary presence Indigenous peoples have in the state.”

Previous Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award Recipients

2023-2024 Public Service Award Committee

Van Adamson-Thompson

Executive Branch of Undergraduate Student Government

Aisha Booze-Hall

The Marian Cheek Jackson Center

Jayla Cobbs

UNC Campus EMS

Kimon Divaris

Adams School of Dentistry

Beth Gardiner

Carolina Public Humanities

Melissa Green

Center for Health Equity Research

Alex Ladan

Graduate and Professional Student Government

Meg Landfried

Gillings School of Global Public Health

Ryan Lavalley

Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Ryan Nilsen

Carolina Center for Public Service


For more information, contact CCPS.