APPLES Internships Offer New Summer Experiences

Eve Elliott, APPLES Summer Fellow

As every Carolina student knows, summertime brings many familiar things: sunshine, hometowns and hopefully a few months of fresh watermelon and ice cream. But for 40 Tar Heels, this season will be the start of something else. During the first weeks of summer, these students began service-learning internships with nonprofits and other organizations in the Triangle area and across the state.

These internships are part of the APPLES Service-Learning program through the Carolina Center for Public Service. Through this program, students engage in an immersive professional experience with local nonprofits, government agencies and other service organizations while receiving a stipend and course credit. The internships present students with the opportunity to explore a variety of fields including public policy, education, environmental sustainability and the arts. Funding for the internship program is provided by student fees, community partner funds and support from private donors and campus partnerships.

Interns also enroll in an online course relating to their service through the William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education and in partnership with the School of Social Work.

Eleanor Murray, a sophomore from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, just began her internship with the Campus Y at UNC-Chapel Hill. She will work closely with the CUBE, the Campus Y’s social venture incubator, to create tools, modules, and programs for student social entrepreneurship programming.

“My favorite part of my internship so far has been meeting and collaborating with the many amazing people who focus on social entrepreneurship for their careers,” Murray said.  “They have most definitely inspired me to question how I can make my own mark on campus.”

This year, APPLES also worked with UNC-Chapel Hill’s Institute of Politics (IOP) to help facilitate public service internships with political organizations and elected officials.

Caroline Carpenter, a junior from Elon, North Carolina and IOP internship coordinator, is excited about combining the goals and opportunities of these programs.

Carpenter said, “Both programs focus on creating public service opportunities and experiences beyond what you can obtain in a classroom setting, so it made sense to combine the two programs. We can offer students options in a wide array of areas that they might not be aware of if they just applied to one program. For example, those interested in environmental studies could apply to both the North Carolina Botanical Gardens and the City of Raleigh Sustainability Office.”

Sara Lafontaine, a junior from Cary, North Carolina, is one of the interns who found an opportunity with the IOP and APPLES. Hoping to learn more about environmental health policy, Lafontaine just started her internship with the City of Raleigh’s Office of Sustainability. Specifically, Lafontaine will be focusing on advocacy and policy service as she works to support the Community-wide Climate Action Plan (CCAP).

“I will be providing research to analyze the CCAP and determine if there are any alternative policies that could improve the plan,” said Lafontaine. “Furthermore, I will create an inventory of dates of meetings within every department, such as Waste, Energy and Carbon, to increase the efficiency within the Office of Sustainability.”

Lafontaine sees the internship as an opportunity to provide context to her environmental health policy studies at Carolina.

“I can apply service-learning ideas to my internship to understand from a people perspective the effects that the CCAP will have on those living in Raleigh and surrounding areas. I am interested in environmental health policy, and seeing the change that will happen this summer with the CCAP will be instrumental in helping me understand how policies are enacted in cities.”

Interns like Lafontaine will complete more than 300 hours of service and share their experiences with poster presentations at the end of the summer. Follow @unc_apples on Instagram for internship updates and spotlights.


Building Community

A member of the first cohort of the Carolina Center for Public Service’s MacDonald Community Service Scholars program, graduating senior Hanan Alazzam has spent more than 1,000 hours over the past three years putting others before herself.

By Brandon Bieltz, University Communications

Hanan Alazzam’s time at Carolina has never been solely about her.

It’s been about the 6-year-olds she has tutored for hours at the Hargraves Community Center. It’s been about setting an example for her sister by becoming the first person in their family to graduate from college. It’s been about all the children she plans to help as a pediatrician.

Alazzam has spent more than 1,000 of hours over the past three years putting others before herself.

But for one day this weekend, it’ll be all about her. On Sunday morning, Alazzam will celebrate her own successes as she graduates from Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in biology and minors in chemistry and Spanish for the profession.

“I feel so accomplished,” Alazzam said. “My parents worked so much to get this for me. I will be the first person in my family to have a college degree, and it’s from the University of North Carolina. That’s crazy.”

Graduation will also be a celebration of all the ways Alazzam has given back to the Chapel Hill community during her time at Carolina.

She is part of the first cohort of the Carolina Center for Public Service’s MacDonald Community Service Scholars program, which helps students increase their commitment, knowledge and skills related to community service. As a MacDonald Scholar, Alazzam engaged in more than 1,000 hours of community service, including building a literacy program at a community center and providing Spanish translation services for local nonprofits.

“It was such a great experience,” she said. “It definitely defined my experience here at Carolina. It changed me into the person I am. I’m not the same person I was when I was in high school. All of the mentorship and assistance I received from the program was incredible.”

MacDonald Scholars enroll in various courses on leadership and service and are required to conduct 1,000 hours of community service while in college. Alazzam had already completed her general education requirements before she enrolled at Carolina so she had just three years to complete her service hours.

“A thousand hours of community [service] is very daunting at first,” she said. “I really needed to hit the ground running.”

With aspirations of becoming a pediatrician in her hometown of Asheboro, Alazzam knew she wanted to spend her time volunteering with children, gaining experience communicating with her future patients.

Her service-based work in the Chapel Hill community began through the Campus Y’s Helping Youth by Providing Enrichment program, which connects UNC-Chapel Hill students with underserved community centers throughout the area.

Alazzam was assigned to the Hargraves Community Center, where she tutored elementary school students. Those hours each week, she said, were her “time to let loose” and step away from her coursework.

“Through this fellowship and all the community service, I got to see the true heart of the Chapel Hill community,” she said. “It helped me be a part of something bigger than myself.”

When she learned the center lacked the necessary reading materials to support the students who attend programs there, Alazzam launched a project to provide audio players, audiobooks and physical books for the center, giving young students access to challenging books and making literacy materials more accessible.

Over her three years at Carolina, she picked up other service projects including volunteering at a pediatrician’s office and working as a Spanish specialist and translator with Volunteers for Youth in Carrboro.

“There’s always room for improvement anywhere you go,” she said. “Even if something is fine and good, you can always do something to help make it better. It makes me feel incredible that one person can make a big difference.”

As she prepares to graduate this week and looks toward medical school, Alazzam is also saying goodbye to the community that has helped shape her for the past three years.

“I’m so excited to see what it is they’re going to do and who they’re going to become,” she said of the students she’s tutored. “I’m so sad to see them go because I feel like they’re my little siblings.

“I really built my small community and my family here.”

CCPS Director Lynn Blanchard receives prestigious Massey Award for meritorious service

By University Gazette

lynn blanchard sitting at desk

In recognition of her “unusual, meritorious or superior contributions,” Lynn White Blanchard, Director of the Carolina Center for Public Service (CCPS) will receive one of six 2019 C. Knox Massey Distinguished Service Awards. Chosen from campus-wide nominations by Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz, recipients will be honored at an April 27 awards luncheon. Each winner receives a $10,000 stipend and an award citation.

“These amazing colleagues who, through their dedicated work and commitment to excellence, continually up the pace of progress at the Carolina we cherish and love,” Guskiewicz said. “We thank them for their service to our University and our state. They are the soul of this most public of the public universities.”

The late C. Knox Massey of Durham established the award in 1980. In 1984, Massey joined the families of his son, Knox Massey Jr., and daughter, Kay Massey Weatherspoon, to create the Massey-Weatherspoon fund. Income from the fund supports the Massey Awards and Carolina Seminars. This year marks the award’s 40th anniversary.

Blanchard has elevated Carolina into one of the nation’s top universities for community engagement and service-learning. She earned a master’s and a doctorate in health behavior from Carolina, where she currently holds a faculty appointment in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Since 2002, she has been director of the Carolina Center for Public Service. The center is home to APPLES Service-Learning, Buckley Public Service Scholars Program, Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars Program and coordination of the University’s disaster response. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Michael and Florence in 2018, Blanchard organized relief efforts that included more than 60,000 pounds of supplies delivered to affected areas. Throughout her career, Blanchard has been a champion of the role higher education can play in addressing society’s pressing issues and improving community through the concept of engaged teaching, research and service.

Congratulations to Lynn for this well-deserved honor!

Giving Back to North Carolina

student rebuilding house affected by hurricaneService-learning students spent their spring breaks providing community service throughout the state and the region.

Story by Emilie Poplett, University Communications
Video by Rob Holliday, University Communications

While many Carolina students spent spring break traveling to tropical destinations for a week of well-deserved leisure, others used the time off to serve the state and region they call home.

Through the APPLES Service-Learning program’s Alternative Spring Break course, five groups of students traveled across North Carolina and Alabama to help address social issues impacting communities firsthand.

Their projects ranged from assisting with hurricane relief in Belhaven to serving at a food pantry in Lumberton, but Robert Pleasants said all students should take away an understanding of how to help their communities effectively.

“The Alternative Spring Break course is designed so that students can really have a chance to reflect on what service means to them, and also to help them think about what effective service is, what good service is,” said Pleasants, who teaches the course at the Carolina Center for Public Service.

Throughout the semester, Pleasants guides students on how to build meaningful relationships with the communities they serve.

Jeremy Baslious, a junior business administration major who is co-leading a trip to Robeson County, North Carolina, said the Alternative Spring Break class has given him insight into the mutually beneficial nature of service.

“I’ve come to realize that genuine community service often serves those who do the service more than the people being served,” Baslious said. “It’s so interesting being able to look locally and say, ‘Wow, I’m an hour away from here by car, and there’s this entire world that I haven’t been exposed to and could really benefit from learning a lot about.’”

group of students waving to camera from work siteDuring the trip to Robeson County, Baslious’s group met with members of the Lumbee Native American tribe to learn about challenges they face as a community, including environmental degradation in the area and misrepresentations of their culture in the news media.

Another group visited Belhaven, North Carolina, to help homeowners who were affected by hurricane Florence. The team worked to stabilize homes’ foundations to prevent future damage.

“We hope that if future flooding comes, [the homeowners] are not going to have to go through this process again,” said Carol-Ann Smith, a junior economics major and co-leader of the trip.

While Baslious’s and Smith’s groups became acquainted with rural parts of the state, another group visited Charlotte — the most populous city in North Carolina and one of the fastest growing cities in America.

Erin Ansbro, a senior biology and environmental studies major and co-leader of the Charlotte trip, said the trip focused on some of the socioeconomic challenges Charlotte faces and allowed students to learn from the nonprofits that have risen to combat those challenges.

Ansbro said she hopes her classmates will learn how to build on a community’s strengths to help address widespread issues like poverty and domestic violence.

“I think the most successful nonprofits are the ones that are based in the community and created by local community members,” she said. “Those are the organizations that are most sustainable. You can feel the difference — you can tell they care. They see people suffering in their community, and they want to make a change.”

She also hopes the trip showed students another side of the state they love, giving them the opportunity to experience and learn from communities different from their own.

Pleasants believes the class will inspire students to continue participating in community service in some way throughout their lives.

“[The class] really helps them think about what service means to them and find ways to then live a life of integrity where they can put that into practice,” he said.

December BPSS graduate reflects on the impact of being a SMART mentor

Hope Gehle, a senior biology major at UNC-Chapel Hill, creates sidewalk art with the eighth grade student she has worked with since 2017 as a part of the SMART Mentoring program.

By Rowan Gallaher and Sarah Leck

As Winter Commencement approaches, senior students find themselves preparing for a new chapter in their lives as college graduates. Among the hundreds of Carolina undergraduates who will receive their diplomas on Sunday, Dec. 16, Hope Gehle, a biology major from Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of the 14 who will graduate as Buckley Public Service Scholars (BPSS).

The BPSS distinction goes beyond the blue and white cords that scholars wear around their necks on graduation day. Graduating as a service scholar means a student has obtained a GPA of 3.0 or higher, attended skills trainings and service-learning courses and performed more than 300 hours of public service during their time at Carolina.

For many graduates, including Gehle, it also means something deeper.

“My mission as a Buckley Public Service Scholar is to be a continuous and overflowing vessel of love,” Gehle said.

For Gehle, many of her service hours happened through her involvement with SMART Mentoring, a BPSS program that facilitates mentoring relationships with local middle-school students from low-income communities through its partnership with Volunteers for Youth. It was a perfect fit for Gehle, who knew she wanted to get involved with service even before she arrived at Carolina.

“As I watched my friends tutor and lead high schoolers through other organizations, I sought out opportunities to care holistically for another student,” she said. “SMART Mentoring was the perfect program.”

By May 2019, Gehle will have worked with her mentee from sixth to eighth grade. Executive Director of Volunteers for Youth Susan Worley noted that this consistency is the key to a successful mentoring relationship.

“Hope’s dedication over these last years has been so instrumental in her mentee’s life, who said she didn’t know who she would be without Hope as a mentor,” Worley said.

In addition to her mentoring responsibilities, Gehle also served as a co-chair for the organization. Gehle and her SMART peers worked to create a safe environment where mentees could share and verbally process life’s challenging situations, ranging from body image issues to “far-fetched scientific curiosities.”

Gehle’s experience with SMART Mentoring and BPSS has helped to cultivate her passion for service and inspire her to enter the medical field. Following graduation Gehle will work as a lab assistant in Chapel Hill and hopes to eventually enroll into the UNC School of Medicine.

“I hope to administer my gifts and talents for the entirety of my life— in my relationships and my career. There is always reason to serve and I hope that I would lead my neighbors to serve from the heart as well,” said Gehle.

Together, all 14 BPSS graduates have completed nearly 400 projects with more than 150 community partners. The Carolina Center for Public Service (CCPS) congratulates the BPSS December 2018 graduating class on their hard work and dedication as service scholars.

Finn Loendorf: Commitment to service

By Rowan Gallaher

Finn Loendorf, a senior physics major from Denver, North Carolina, loves science and serving in the community by working with youth. Thanks to the MacDonald Community Fellowship, Loendorf brought these interests together during summer 2018.

Loendorf, a member of Carolina’s inaugural class of MacDonald Community Service Scholars, participated in the Buckley Public Service Scholars program and the First-Year Service Corps through the Carolina Center for Public Service. These experiences led Loendorf to launch an independent service project designed to increase the exposure and interest in science topics among underserved youth in the Chapel Hill area.

Alumnus Scott MacDonald ’72 M.R.P. created the Scott D. MacDonald Community Service Scholarships and the MacDonald Community Fellowship in 2015. The Fellowship provides specialized training and funding for students to identify and implement a public service project with a community partner.

“I believe everyone who has received education and is successful, has an obligation to help others who follow,” said MacDonald. “I also believe people who are in need would benefit from the efforts of socially motivated university students…”

Loendorf agrees. “Helping others is just the right thing to do. It’s everyone’s responsibility to do what they can to make the world a better place.”

As a first-year student, Loendorf tutored with Boomerang Youth Inc., and noticed how tutoring supported students in both their schoolwork and personal lives. During summer 2018, Loendorf continued this work with seven middle-school students by implementing a week-long program, Full STEAM Ahead, that involved coding activities, science experiments and literary arts.

“The students explored science through different exciting activities, such as an aluminum foil boat-making competition, coding LEDs with an Arduino microcontroller, and making rock candy. The students also completed a project where they built a volcano and used scientific properties learned throughout the week to make them erupt,” Loendorf said.

Tami Pfeifer, Boomerang’s executive director, saw Loendorf’s ability to make science engaging for the students and create enthusiasm for the upcoming school year.

“Finn is an outstanding Boomerang volunteer who provides academic support to our students during the school year,” Pfeifer said. “Through Finn’s dedication, commitment and access to resources from the [MacDonald] fellowship, we were able to carry that academic connection into the summer.”

The students ended the week-long camp with a renewed sense of excitement for learning and an even stronger support system. On the surface level, constructing paper-mâché volcanoes is a fun activity, but Loendorf also highlights the value of teamwork and self-expression that the camp facilitated.

“No gesture is too small. The ripple effect of kindness and caring for others can spread in unpredictable and wonderful ways,” Loendorf said.

225 years of Tar Heels: Marjorie Buckley

marjorie buckley headshotMarjorie Buckley co-founded the Carolina Center for Public Service in 1999 to continue the University’s tradition of giving back to the state.

By University Communications

Carolina has a long and proud history of public service, and for the past nearly 20 years, the Carolina Center for Public Service has been at the heart of that effort.

One of the forces behind the center was Marjorie Bryan Buckley, who co-founded CCPS in 1999. CCPS offers programs that support service and engagement, providing students, faculty and staff with ways to explore opportunities, learn new skills and link their academic endeavors to making a difference across North Carolina and beyond.

In 2004, Buckley received the General Alumni Association Distinguished Service Medal, which honors alumni and others who have provided outstanding service to the GAA and/or the University.

“The center is dear to Marjorie because it teaches Carolina students and faculty a truth that has been central to her own life: Each person has talents and resources they ought to offer their community in service,” the award citation noted.

Buckley, who graduated from Carolina in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in education, was also instrumental in establishing the North Carolina Outward Bound School in 1967. She still serves as an honorary board member. Because of her work with the school, Buckley received the Kurt Hahn Award in 1992, Outward Bound’s highest form of recognition.

Buckley also received an honorary degree from Carolina in 2014.

Helping our Neighbors after Hurricane Florence

More than a dozen Carolina students spent their fall break helping in the recovery efforts in some North Carolina communities that were among the hardest hit by Hurricane Florence.

By Aaron Moger, University Communications

The students assisted in food and water distribution centers and helped clean flooded homes.

“The Carolina community has proven time and again that they are willing and ready to assist our neighbors who are going through this recovery process,” said Becca Bender, student programs officer at the Carolina Center for Public Service. “I think the fact that Carolina students and staff are willing to give time over the break to travel to other communities and help, shows that Tar Heels understand the impacts of these disasters and that it is a responsibility to our state to assist in the recovery.”

Bender spent fall break leading a group of students to Pollocksville, North Carolina, where they worked at a water and meal distribution center. In the days following Hurricane Florence, four feet of water covered the town’s streets.

“Pollocksville is a tiny town in eastern North Carolina that was severely affected by Hurricane Florence and does not have much infrastructure to bounce back quickly,” Bender said. “I think it is important for UNC volunteers to see a small community’s relief efforts.”

More than two hours west of Pollocksville, another group of Carolina students were helping a community in any way it could.

As part of the Carolina Center for Public Service’s APPLES Service-Learning program, a group of Tar Heels spent three days in Robeson County volunteering in relief centers and assisting in repairing houses damaged by flooding.

“We originally came to Lumberton because it’s a place where APPLES has continuously gone for each break,” said group co-leader Amy Cockerham, a junior. “This year we’re doing disaster relief because that’s what’s relevant.”

Initially, the service trip to Robeson County was scheduled to work with members of the Lumbee Tribe to learn about issues facing the area, but the storm quickly changed the students’ plans to help community members in need.

“The hurricane came out of nowhere and there’s a lot of disaster relief projects to be done. We shifted half of our trip to do so,” said Michelle He, a co-leader of the APPLES group. “There’s so much disaster, and there’s so much help that is needed. It’s worth giving up my fall break to help everyone.”

Community Engagement Fellow takes social venture to next level

From classroom to freezer

by Melanie Busbee

Will Chapman and Patrick Mateer Seal the SeasonsCarolina students Will Chapman and Patrick Mateer hope to transform the local food market when they launch their line of flash frozen local produce, Seal the Seasons, later this spring.

With the help of Daniella Uslan, project manager at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, the 2015 SECU Emerging Issues prize-winning company will be the first in the Piedmont to flash freeze local produce and make it available year-round to retail and institutional partners.

The company’s mission is to expand the market for local farmers while targeting communities that do not have a lot of access to healthy produce – areas commonly called “food deserts.”

“Our business model aims to connect the people who grow food with the people who really need the food,” said Mateer, a 2015 Carolina Bonner Leader who has been a lead volunteer with multiple food relief programs. His research on food insecurity issues shows that food deserts exist because of two major solvable problems in society: the high cost of transportation and the high cost of healthy product.

Seal the Seasons first gained momentum in spring 2013 in a Carolina classroom and in 2014 received a Community Engagement Fellowship from the Carolina Center for Public Service.

Uslan, whose focus is sustainable agriculture and food economies, was enrolled in professor Alice Ammerman’s public health entrepreneurship class in the Gillings School of Global Public Health where a group project inspired her to design a social venture that linked food waste and food access.

“That sort of brainstorming really led me on this trail of thinking more seriously about starting a business,” Uslan said.

To give the idea some legs, Uslan joined UNC’s Launch the Venture business incubation class and enlisted the help of students – Mateer and Chapman, who have since helped push the original idea into an award-winning company – to round out the Seal the Seasons team.

The CUBE, a Campus Y-based hub that supports Carolina social entrepreneurs, provided legal support, mentoring, startup money and office space.

One of the company’s goals is to reduce the total number of miles produce has to travel. Chapman, who is pursuing a Masters of Public Health in Nutrition, said that while North Carolina is rich agriculturally, much of what North Carolinians consume is grown elsewhere.

In its pilot run, Seal the Seasons is working with four local farms, each less than 150-200 acres in size.

“We think it’s important right now to stick with small farmers to increase their capacity and make farming more viable for that segment,” Mateer said.

This spring, as the founders prepare for final exams, they will do a test run – buying vegetables from local farmers, processing and freezing the product, and tweaking packaging specifics and nutritional panels. Greens such as collards and kale will be the first products available in retail outlets that include Weaver Street Market and institutional settings such as hospitals, child care centers and schools.

As part of its operations, a portion (10 percent) of Seal the Seasons profits will be used to place retail product in corner stores – increasing access and combating food insecurity, which is a reality for a growing population in the Triangle. The USDA’s Food Access Research Atlas, which enables users to pinpoint the number of low-income, low-access people in any tract of land within a county, is an interactive way to see just how many real, local people these issues affect.

Plans for expansion include creating local production hubs across the state, particularly in food deserts.

The founders believe Seal the Seasons has the potential to rebuild struggling local food economies by increasing access to locally grown crops and reinvigorating North Carolina as one of the most diverse agricultural states in the nation.

“We are addressing these problems because we feel like it is the right thing to do,” Chapman said. “Seal the Seasons has become an outlet for all these different passions – for human health, for environmental health. It has provided me with a means of applying everything that I have learned in class. That connection between academia and practice is crucial.”

Story and video by Melanie Busbee, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Published: Thursday, April 2, 2015

Outward Bound participant broadens perspective of service

Each summer, the Carolina Center for Public Service awards North Carolina Outward Bound School (NCOBS) scholarships to participants in the Buckley Public Service Scholars program, Carolina Leadership Development and the School of Education to spend 28 days on-course at NCOBS. Austin Gragson ’17, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant, recently returned from Outward Bound School and shares his reflection of the experience.


What started as initial excitement and wanderlust for the impending adventure quickly faded to soreness and frequent, periodic thoughts of “how am I going to survive this?” With time, I learned to appreciate the opportunity that was given to me. I made it my mission to learn a lesson or two before I was free from what I believed would be never-ending waves of challenges.

However as the days passed what started as impossible tasks became old tricks. I started to internalize Emerson’s quote that has become an old mantra of Outward Bound – “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

The daily challenges presented to my crew were no longer a matter of if our bodies could make it through but rather if our minds could. This subtle switch in perspective provided for an incredible improvement in performance as I realized what was holding me back was not what my body couldn’t withstand but what I thought I couldn’t withstand.

Through my experience I learned to meet challenges with a smile and jumped into uncomfortable situations instead of running away from them. I was also challenged to broaden my perspective of service. My instructors expanded my definition of service beyond a “big picture” point of view. They encouraged me to look for “micro-service” that benefits those around me. We are always able to give back to others around us and we don’t have to purposely seek out a new environment in order to serve others.

Learn more about the Center’s Outward Bound scholarships.