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Clean drinking water initiatives, cancer research programs and domestic violence prevention were some of the projects recognized by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill during the 2015 Public Service Awards. Sponsored by the Carolina Center for Public Service, individuals and organizations representing students, faculty, staff and community partners were honored April 7 at the annual Public Service Awards celebration.

“Public service and engaged scholarship are at the heart of what great public universities aspire to bring to our nation,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt, who presented the awards. “Each of this year’s recipients have dedicated themselves to serving North Carolina, the United States and the world through public service. We are so proud to honor the meaningful and profoundly impactful work of the individuals and organizations receiving awards today.”

Mike Smith, dean of the School of Government, received the Ned Brooks Award for Public Service for his 37 years of providing and supporting public service within UNC-Chapel Hill and across North Carolina. He engages with city and county officials across the state to share the School of Government’s existing resources and learn how the School can better meet these public servants’ needs. His approach to mentoring, inspiring and providing opportunities for others to make a positive impact in the community has expanded public service beyond the University and the School of Government.

The center presented three Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Awards, which honor individuals and campus units for public service through engaged teaching, research and partnership:

  • Gail Corrado, a lecturer in public policy, received the 2015 Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award for engaged teaching for her work developing and teaching a public policy senior capstone course. In this course, senior public policy majors complete analytical projects with professional standards for local government and nonprofit organizations.
  • Claudio Battaglini, an associate professor in exercise and sport science, received the 2015 Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award for engaged research. His research examines the effects of exercise training in cancer patients through the UNC-Chapel Hill Get REAL and HEEL Breast Cancer Rehabilitation Program. The research provides evidence-based exercise training to breast cancer survivors with the goal of alleviating treatment-related side effects and empowering patients to live their lives with the highest possible functional capacity and quality of life.
  • The Environmental Resource Program in the Institute for the Environment, which works to promote healthy communities across North Carolina by fostering broad support for clean water and improving science literacy among residents, received the 2015 Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award for partnership. This award highlights the program’s partnership with the Upper Neuse River Keeper, Lake Crabtree County Park and North Carolina Division of Public Health on successful efforts to protect vulnerable populations from consuming contaminated fish caught in polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB)-contaminated waterways.

The Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award recognizes individual students and faculty for exemplary public service efforts. This year’s Bryan awards went to four individuals and one organization:

  • Hana Haidar, a senior English and sociology double major from Chapel Hill received the Robert E. Bryan undergraduate student award for her work with the UNC chapter of Habitat for Humanity, a national organization that provides decent and affordable housing for low-income families. For two years, Haidar served as chair of the community outreach committee, developing relationships between UNC-Chapel Hill student volunteers and the families of Chapel Hill’s Phoenix Place, where Habitat has built homes in recent years. Haidar hosted several community initiatives to promote financial literacy, healthy eating habits, physical activity and art education.
  • Kristin Black, a maternal and child health doctoral student from Sacramento, California, received the Robert E. Bryan graduate student award for her work with Accountability for Cancer Care through Undoing Racism and Equity. This study is a systems-change intervention that optimizes transparency and accountability to achieve racial equity in the completion of cancer treatment among patients with early-stage breast and lung cancer. Black monitored the logistical components of the study and trained others in the Undoing Racism approach that ensures a common language for examining racial disparities in the healthcare system.
  • Mathilde Verdier, program coordinator at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Social Innovation Initiative, received the Robert E. Bryan staff award for her work with CUBE, the University’s on-campus social innovation incubator. CUBE helps its participants build critical knowledge through mentorship, expert feedback sessions and skills-building workshops that deliver critical information to early-stage social ventures. At CUBE, Verdier built strategic partnerships to support students, faculty and staff with ideas surrounding some of society’s most pressing issues. Verdier’s work with CUBE allowed several community organizations, including Seal the Seasons, Musical Empowerment and Aquagenx, to make important steps in improving communities.
  • Bebe Smith, clinical assistant professor in the School of Social Work, received the Robert E. Bryan faculty award for her work as project director of Critical Time Intervention, a collaborative effort between the UNC School of Social Work and the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health. The project helps those with mental illness who are experiencing a critical transition – from homelessness to being housed, from hospital or prison to community, or to foster engagement in mental health treatment after emergence of severe mental illness. The program meets basic needs, aids in recovery and connects participants with appropriate treatment and resources. Smith also engages with state policy makers to expand the program to fill gaps in North Carolina’s mental health and homelessness service systems.
  • Domestic Violence Advocacy Project Organization received the Robert E. Bryan campus organization award for its work providing free legal services to survivors of domestic violence who seek protection orders. The Domestic Violence Action Project works closely with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the Durham Crisis Response Center to foster a line of communication between law enforcement, nonprofit organizations, and University students and professors. The organization is a student-run program at the UNC School of Law in which participating students assist in filing motions for protection orders, accompanying clients to court and educating clients about court proceedings.

The Ronald W. Hyatt Rotary Public Service Awards, named for the late professor of exercise and sport science and long-time member of the Chapel Hill Rotary Club, honors innovative public service projects that represent the “service above self” motto of Rotary International. This year’s awards went to graduate student David Ball for his work with United Solar Initiative, Refugee Youth Leadership and Empowerment for youth-led community development, and Classroom to Community for training graduate students to provide health education lessons.

The Mingma Norbu Sherpa Fellowship is named for the late Mingma Norbu Sherpa, a pioneering conservationist in the Himalaya who served as an official with the World Wildlife Fund. This year’s fellowship will be presented to Andrew Koltun for his work with To the Last Drop: Water System Quality Studies in Rural Uganda. Koltun will travel to four Ugandan villages to test several springs for contaminants. The data collected will be used to decide how to mitigate contamination in the future.

The Davis Projects for Peace Award, funded by the late philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis, will be presented to seniors Nicole Fauster and Layla Quran for their work with The Unwelcome Guests: The Case of Migrant Workers in Jordan. Fauster and Quran will raise awareness of the case of migrants in Jordan through educational clinics for University of Jordan students, created to identify and build upon shared attributes between Jordanian citizens and migrant workers. The team will also create a short film consisting of interviews with migrant workers in Jordan, non-government organization workers, lawyers and activists.

In addition to these public service awards, several other groups were recognized, including five Robert E. Bryan Social Innovation Fellowship teams involving 22 students, five Community Engagement Fellowship projects created by six students and 13 North Carolina Outward Bound scholarship recipients.

  • The Robert E. Bryan Social Innovation Fellowship is designed for undergraduate aspiring social change-makers who are interested in providing a significant contribution locally, nationally or internationally through the creation of an entrepreneurial project that addresses a community issue or need. Fellows receive up to $1,500 to launch their project, access to professional development funds, support from APPLES students and staff, and invaluable leadership training and personal development.
  • The Community Engagement Fellowship awards up to $2,000 each year to selected graduate students to develop and implement engagement or engaged scholarship projects that employ innovative, sustainable approaches to complex social needs and have an academic connection.
  • Each year, 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 program and the School of Education. Recipients receive full tuition to a 28-day course at the North Carolina Outward Bound School.

By Rhonda Beatty, Carolina Center for Public Service

Published April 7, 2015