On GiveUNC 2023, the story starts with you! Your gift to CCPS makes every transformational experience and story behind the numbers possible. Support CCPS on GiveUNC on March 28, 2023.
Billy Gerhard, the first recipient of the Minmga Norbu Sherpa Fellowship, pictured with Donald in the Galapagos Islands in the summer of 2014. The fellowship was created by Donald and Karen Wagoner through CCPS.
Hi! I’m Billy Gerhard.
I was first exposed to Carolina Center for Public Service through the Buckley Public Service Scholars program. This program allowed me to use the skills I built at UNC to benefit communities near UNC and beyond. While on campus, I spent time volunteering with UNC Hospitals at Spanish-speaking health clinics. During the summers, I studied in the Galapagos Islands, where I performed science outreach to the local community.
Following my junior year, I received the inaugural Mingma Norbu Sherpa Fellowship from Carolina Center for Public Service. The fellowship was established by Donald and Karen Wagoner, long-time friends of the Center and champions of the environment. This fellowship allowed me to work in the Galapagos with a team of UNC and local scientists and perform the first comprehensive drinking water quality survey of San Cristobal Island. Donald visited to learn about and support our work.
My experience with the Sherpa Fellowship had a significant academic, professional and personal impact on me. Academically, this work became the basis of my master’s thesis and expanded my interests in microbiology and engineering, culminating in earning my Ph.D. Reflecting on the early conversations I had with Donald in the Galapagos, I realized that his interest, investment and support provided through CCPS broadened and shaped what I thought possible for my career and life experiences.
Ultimately, I chose to give back to CCPS because I believe it will have the same positive impact for other UNC students while also benefitting communities, locally and abroad.
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