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The Buckley Public Service Scholars program incorporates a commitment to public service along with structured training and reflection on that service. To successfully complete the program, you must complete and log:

  • A BPSS orientation session
  • 300 hours of public service
  • One service-learning course
  • Four approved skills trainings
  • A senior reflection activity
  • Minimum cumulative GPA (of 3.0 or above Buckley Public Service Scholar and 2.5-2.9 for Special Recognition in Public Service)

Throughout the program, you’ll log your progress in the Buckley Portfolio, a database system that allows you to keep accurate records of your service involvement and training. Upon successful completion of the program, Buckley Public Service Scholars are recognized at a special graduation ceremony and receive a public service cord and notation on their transcript.

As a scholar, you also have access to several optional (and fun!) opportunities for service and engagement.

Some BPSS alumni recently participated in a study about the program’s connections to their careers. Learn more by reading the study in the Journal of Community Engagement and Higher Education!

Learn more about the program components

Who can participate in BPSS?

All full-time undergraduate students with at least four semesters remaining at Carolina are welcome to enroll in BPSS. Transfer students with at least three semesters left are also able to enroll.

When can I enroll in BPSS?

Enrollment is open at the beginning of both the fall and spring semesters and all summer. Students interested in enrolling in BPSS can do so online through the Buckley Portfolio.

I just enrolled in BPSS but cannot attend an orientation session this semester. Can I still participate?

Yes! BPSS participants must attend an orientation session within the first two semesters of being enrolled in the program. You can begin participating in the program during the term in which you enroll. The current orientation dates are available in the Buckley Portfolio for those who have not attended orientation.

How often do I need to log service hours?

You must log service hours in the Buckley Portfolio by the last day of class in the semester in which they occur (or the announced early fall deadline for summer hours) and include details and contact information for the associated organization. You must log at least one service hour each semester in order to remain active in the program.

What counts as service?

CCPS uses the term public service to describe the application of knowledge, skills and resources for the common good. Correspondingly, we recognize that a wide variety of paid and unpaid work can fall under the description of public service. Students wondering if something could be considered public service should reflect upon how exactly you and your community defines public service, what motivates you to do the activity and whom it ultimately will impact.

In order for something to be logged and count for the purposes of BPSS, the activity typically must be connected to or benefit a community-based nonprofit organization, a government agency or a campus community service organization. (Note: this requirement has been relaxed during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

Still unsure? Here’s a framework we hope will help: Beginning with orientation, we encourage you to think about and participate in three different dimensions of service: direct service, policy-based service and organizational service.

  • Direct service could be described as hands on activities that give some form of direct assistance to particular people or communities.
  • Policy-based service is less direct and focuses more on social systems and how communities or the larger society are organized.
  • Organizational service deals with activities that support the existence and administration of an organization that provides more direct or policy-based services.

Using these distinctions as a tool, we challenge you to consider how your service activities fit into the broader picture of public service. We hope you will seek to incorporate all three of these types of service into your experiences in BPSS. You should be able to articulate exactly why the work that you log in the Buckley Portfolio is public service.

What does not count as service?

There are some things that should not be counted as service for the purposes of BPSS. These include:

  • Service hours completed before the term a student enrolls in BPSS
  • Travel time to and from service sites
  • Work that is associated with promoting or converting others to a specific religion
  • Work that does not fit with your own vision of public service

Receiving payment does not exclude an activity from being considered service for the purposes of BPSS.

For overnight or multi-day service experiences (such as alternative spring break and summer camp counseling) you may record a maximum of 12 hours per day, if a full 12 hours were spent doing service each day. Hours spent planning or coordinating prior to the actual event may be counted in addition to the 12 daily hours.

Where can I find service opportunities?

For students new to Chapel Hill or trying to decide how to get involved, the Carolina Center for Public Service created a BPSS Local Service Organization Finder tool that students can use to explore the most common local, off-campus and campus organizations that recent BPSS participants have been connected with. The tool offers several visualizations that present information such as the number of hours, types of service and focus areas that BPSS students logged in projects associated with various organizations. To explore BPSS student service before the start of the pandemic, you can also check out an earlier version an earlier version of the tool, as well.

You should also sign up for the Public Service News for a weekly digest of local service and program opportunities!

What’s a skills training?

Participants in BPSS are not only involved in public service activities but also actively seek opportunities to develop skills that will make you better prepared for that public service and more useful to your community partners. In order to successfully complete the program, you must complete and log at least four approved skills trainings.

BPSS has identified the following 10 skill areas as important to effective and responsible engagement in public service:

  • Advocacy and community organizing
  • Diversity and cultural awareness
  • Effective communication
  • Ethics and leadership
  • Evaluation and applied research
  • Financial management
  • Fundraising, grant writing and philanthropy
  • Planning and assessment
  • Service-specific training
  • Social entrepreneurship and innovation

In order to be approved for BPSS, a skills training must relate to one of these skills areas. A skills training may be on or off campus and can take the form of a workshop, a conference or non-academic course. The training must be interactive, activity-based and designed for participants to build and practice skills. Events where students simply learn information or gain awareness (such as through a lecture, panel or presentation) would not count as a skills training for the purposes of BPSS. Academic and professional conferences should count only as one skills training rather than a series of separate trainings.

What are some specific examples of skills trainings?

Many skills trainings that BPSS participants attend and log in their Buckley Portfolios are not sponsored by CCPS. Some examples of other on-campus trainings, series and conferences that have met (or included workshops that met) the skills training requirements in the past are:

  • Carolina Green Event Certification Trainings
  • CUBE Innovation Incubator Workshop Series
  • EcoReps Skills Trainings
  • Embody Carolina
  • Functional Leadership Workshop Series
  • HAVEN (Helping to Advocate Violence Ending Now) Training
  • Launching the Venture
  • OneAct Trainings
  • Rethink Psychiatric Illness
  • Safe Zone Trainings
  • SCALE’s Read. Write. Act. Conference
  • SkillsfUL Tech Workshops at the Undergraduate Library
  • STRETCH Conference
  • UNITY Conference
  • UNC Minority Health Conference

How do I record my completed skills trainings?

Like service hours, skills trainings must be logged by the BPSS participant in the Buckley Portfolio by the last day of class in the semester that they occur or, for summer skills trainings, by the announced early fall deadline.

What constitutes a service-learning course?

Participants in BPSS seek to connect their public service involvement with their academic experiences while at Carolina. BPSS participants must complete and log one service-learning course in order to successfully complete the program. A service-learning course is a credit-bearing academic course that:

  • Requires students to participate in at least 30 hours of service
  • Facilitates students’ reflection on their service experience
  • Connects students’ service experience with the course’s academic goals

This is the only component of BPSS that can be logged retroactively.

The most up-to-date service-learning course list for current and upcoming terms is posted on the APPLES Service-Learning Courses page. Service-learning courses that satisfy the Experiential Education requirement for graduation can also be found through searching the course attribute “CON-E3 – Service Learning” in ConnectCarolina.

What is a BPSS pre-approved service-learning course?

Academic courses that are pre-approved to count as service-learning courses for BPSS are included in the Buckley Portfolio. A detailed list of APPLES service-learning courses is also released before registration each semester and may help students select courses that fit with their other degree requirements.

Several other CCPS programs involve academic courses that count as service-learning courses for BPSS, including:

Can I create my own service-learning course or appeal a course that’s not already pre-approved?

Yes! If students would like to create their own service-learning course or appeal for an existing course not already in the list of pre-approved courses to count for BPSS, an appeal can be submitted in the Buckley Portfolio using the appeal form. Successful appeals include existing courses that meet the requirements but are not listed as service-learning courses, independent studies with service-learning components, the addition of a service-learning component to an existing course that is approved by the instructor and involves a final paper reflecting on the service-learning components of the course or a non-UNC-Chapel Hill course that fits the service-learning course requirements.

Students must submit the course syllabus and any other relevant course documentation by scanning them and uploading them with the course appeal form in the Buckley Portfolio.

What’s the senior reflection and how do I do it?

While reflection is a continuous part of a student’s participation in BPSS, participants are required to submit a senior reflection during one of your final two semesters before graduation in order to successfully complete the program. The reflection will challenge you to articulate your philosophy of service and how it has developed over the years in response to the experiences you logged in your Buckley Portfolio. A BPSS graduate assistant or CCPS staff member will review and provide an individualized response and feedback to each student submission in order to help you make meaning from your experiences in the program.

You will receive information about the exact prompt and deadlines early in the fall semester of your senior year. Contact with questions about this process or if you are a senior and have not received information about how to complete your senior reflection.