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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 2023 Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Awards are closed. Nominations for the 2024 Provost Engaged Scholarship Awards will be open November 2023 until February 2024 in the CCPS Application and Nomination Portal.

2022 Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award Recipients


Will Douthit, senior business administration major at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, is recognized for his leadership of and work with Carolina Homelessness Prevention Initiative, an organization that works in close partnership with the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness.

The Carolina Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI) stems from an organization called Focus on Franklin. Focus on Franklin began building partnerships with community organizations, particularly the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness, to directly assist residents struggling with homelessness. With this knowledge and charge, Douthit and his team began fundraising, and in Douthit’s first year with the group, they raised $18,000. Working with their professional partners, they allocated this funding directly to residents–from $50 grocery vouchers that keep food on the table for a week to a $1,000 check to pay the rent.

“CHPI transformed the homeless service system in Orange County by providing the flexible funding needed to find safe places for people facing homelessness. This is especially important here in Orange County where shelter is often not available on any given night – it’s the CHPI funding that keeps people sheltered and safe. It has been amazing to work with this capable and inspiring group of undergraduates under Will’s leadership who are contributing so meaningfully to our community,” says Corey Root, director, Orange County Housing.


Dane Emmerling, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Health Behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, for his outstanding community engagement over four years of teaching in the M.P.H. capstone course in the Gilling’s School of Global Public Health and engaged research evaluating trainings with the Racial Equity Institute.

In Emmerling’s four years serving as a capstone teaching assistant, he has helped recruit, vet and match 39 North Carolina-based organizations to student teams. He has coached 18 teams–each comprised of four to five students, a community partner and a faculty adviser– on work plans that balance contributions to the capstone partner organizations and their constituents with learning opportunities for students. He has supported, advised and problem-solved with 176 students who collectively provided more than 31,680 hours of in-kind service to Capstone partner organizations, and provided technical assistance to the development of more than 70 deliverables created for Capstone partner organizations’ use and benefit, and has facilitated 16 reflection sessions to support students’ growth and learning.

In addition, Emmerling has exemplified engagement in his own community-based participatory research, working in close partnership with the Racial Equity Institute to evaluate their training programs, which address critical public health and societal issues. Earlier this year, he presented on this work with partner Deena Hayes-Greene of REI at the University’s fifth Race, Racism and Racial Equity (R3) Symposium.


Allison Constance, JD, director, Pro Bono Initiative, School of Law is recognized for her leadership and direction of the Pro Bono Initiative at UNC Law. Constance advises the student-led Pro Bono Board and coordinates and supervises students working on pro bono projects. Under her supervision, 93% of law students enrolled for the 2020-2021 academic year participated in pro bono work. All told, current law students have logged more than 22,000 of service during their time at Carolina.

Constance’s projects reach across North Carolina and focus on low-income and rural areas that historically lack access to legal representation. One example is the Expunction Project in collaboration with Legal Aid of North Carolina. This initiative assists clients from every county in the state. Additionally, Constance has coordinated trips for students to engage in pro bono projects across the state, including drafting wills and power of attorney documents in Morganton, Hickory, and Lenoir; working on housing and evictions issues in Charlotte; and helping veterans in Asheville with discharge upgrades get better medical benefits.

Constance also provides pro bono assistance with Driver’s License Restoration, where she writes monthly advice letters to people who have requested information about the status of their licenses. She also coordinates the Juvenile Justice Project, a collaboration with NC Prisoner Legal Services, where she acts as the supervising attorney to students while representing clients who have been convicted of serious offenses for their parole reviews.

One nominator wrote “Allison’s projects always focus on current community needs, and she instills in us a sense of consciousness for how we may best serve our communities based on their own material circumstances and the gaps that we as burgeoning lawyers may fill.”


Robyn Jordan, MD, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry within the School of Medicine, is recognized for her partnership in creating a network of addiction clinics in North Carolina that will accept patients suffering from addiction.

Overdose deaths in North Carolina reached record levels in 2021. Jordan is leading multiple efforts to increase access to life-saving addiction care across the state. To better meet the addiction care needs of patients, Jordan created a hospital-based addiction consult service, the first of its kind at UNC, to provide specialized service these patients and connect them with clinics outside of the hospital.

Jordan also helped develop UNC ECHO, a telehealth education program that trains primary care providers in rural parts of North Carolina to deliver high-quality addiction care. She’s helped create addiction treatment where none existed before across the state. In part as recognition of her leadership, she was recently elected president of the North Carolina Addiction Medicine Society.

Jordan secured external funding to start the first-ever Addiction Medicine Fellowship program at UNC in order to train addiction medicine physicians to address the overdose crisis that is devastating the state. The program is training physicians who will continue to serve the state for decades to come.



William Sturkey, Ph.D., associate professor in History in the College of Arts and Sciences, is recognized for his outstanding scholarship on the history of race in the American South and his service to the state of North Carolina, where he shared state history through public lectures, insightful interviews and writings and in the training of K-12 public school teachers.

A nominator and colleague described his scholarship as “characterized by brilliant, nuanced, and powerful analysis of people whose stories have been marginalized within standard historical narratives.”

Sturkey created awareness about the life and accomplishments of the late Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray, a remarkable yet overlooked Black poet, lawyer, priest and more in the 20th century. William partnered with Carolina K-12 and the Orange County Human Rights Coalition to host a workshop for K-12 teachers on teaching the struggles and contributions of Murray. This one event, of the many he has done, served over 100 teachers from North Carolina, with several hundred accessing an on-demand module after. He also worked with a team to produce “On the Books,” an online digitization of North Carolina’s Jim Crow laws, that picks up Murray’s work on Jim Crow laws and extends it for today’s scholars and K-12 teachers.

One nominator referred to Sturkey as a “highly prolific and important scholar in modern U.S. and African American history,” writing a boos illuminating the lived experience of those who lived during segregation, co-editing a volume about Mississippi Freedom Schools, and so much more.


Hispanic Student Dental Association in the UNC Adams School of Dentistry. Dental students who currently or previously served as co-presidents of HSDA Alret Montes Sanchez, Stephanie Wangerin, Gabriella Gallo and Virginia Montes-Aviles will accept the award on behalf of the organization.

The Hispanic Student Dental Association (HSDA) works alongside the non-profit, Vidas de Esperanza, in Siler City, North Carolina to provide dental services twice per month to a largely Hispanic/Latinx population in need of dental treatment. The dental treatment that HSDA provides at Vidas de Esperanza is filling a need in this community for culturally competent and Spanish-speaking dental providers. Over the past few years, HSDA students have expanded the clinic to meet growing demand and to attempt to become the dental home for many of these patients in need of care. From January 2021 to December 2021, HSDA provided over $47,500 of no-cost dental care to patients. Relieving peoples’ pain and helping patients to regain their smiles and confidence has a lasting impact in not only each individual patient’s life, but in the life of volunteers, and in the health and wellbeing of the community.

The dental clinic at Vidas de Esperanza has existed for five years, and each year a new group of HSDA student leaders ensure that the clinic continues to function and impact the community in positive ways. HSDA leaders dedicate numerous hours each week preparing for clinics, in addition to dedicating their entire
Saturday to operate the clinic.

A nominator said that by relieving people’s pain and helping them to regain their smiles, they have a lasting impact in not only each individual patient’s life, but in the life of volunteers, and in the health and wellbeing of the community.

Previous Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award Recipients

2022-2023 Public Service Award Committee

Van Adamson-Thompson

Executive Branch of Undergraduate Student Government

Lynn Blanchard

Carolina Center for Public Service

Aisha Booze-Hall

The Marian Cheek Jackson Center

Meg Landfried

Department of Health Behavior

Ryan Lavalley

Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Sarah Miles

Graduate and Professional Student Government, Department of History

Josmell Perez

Carolina Latinx Center


For more information, contact Ryan Nilsen.