Return to Front Page About the Gazette | Publication Schedule Contents of the Current Print Edition Search the Gazette | Browse Back Issues Send Us Your News Carolina's Home Page UNC's News Site
A worker installs banners for the Bolshoi Ballet, which comes to Carolina June 10-14 UNC home page
Today's date:

   P U B L I C  S E R V I C E  A N D  E N G A G E M E N T

* *Loved one in need brings home the need for blood donations
* *Scholarly work meets real-world challenges

Loved one in need
brings home the need
for blood donations


Katrina Coble is a woman on a mission.

Everyone who knows Coble, chair of the Carolina Blood Drive Committee, knows her unwavering dedication to blood donation.

With Carolina’s summer blood drive fast approaching on June 2, Coble is even more fired up than usual. UNC lost its title last fall as the largest single-day blood drive on the East Coast – to one of the UNC-system schools: Appalachian State. The goal of 1,100 units of blood is now personal for Coble: to beat ASU and reclaim bragging rights.

But blood donation for Coble has always been personal.

The computer science department business manager, Coble grew up close by her maternal grandparents “Granddaddy Ira” Braxton and “Granny Gray.” Their attachment was so strong that Coble was always kidded about being “a third daughter” to them.

Braxton lived a life filled with challenges from the time he was a toddler, Coble wrote in an essay in honor of her grandfather. Thought to have polio, he was diagnosed years later with a form of muscular dystrophy, but still led a full and productive life. “Grandaddy Ira never won any races against his brothers and sisters,” Coble wrote, “but determination always got him to the finish line.”

He always wore leg braces that attached to his shoes. “He worked tirelessly in the garden to produce fruits and vegetables and thoroughly enjoyed keeping a beautiful lawn. Those leg braces enabled him to get around many years to do the things he loved,” Coble said. And when day turned to night and Grandaddy Ira took off the braces, Coble “tried to walk in them, to be like him.”

Appalachian Challenge:
The Carolina Blood Drive needs you

Register now to give blood on June 2 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Smith Center and help UNC recapture bragging rights from ASU. Make appointments by calling 96BLOOD or 962-5663, or visit the Carolina Blood Drive Web site: Walk-in donations also are welcome. Donors receive refreshments, a 21st anniversary blood drive T-shirt and the satisfaction of knowing they helped to save a life. Other incentives include hourly door prizes, the opportunity to register for a cruise for two and the chance to win football or basketball tickets.

When Coble married in 1984, Braxton was still walking with his leg braces plus arm crutches, but by 1989, he progressed to a walker and then to a wheelchair. He could no longer garden, but lovingly tended his beautiful lawn.

“People often asked how in the world he could mow the yard with the riding lawn mower,” she wrote. “He couldn’t lift his legs to use the pedals and did not have hand controls. He learned how to make do with his cane, using it to push the pedals. He continued to mow his yard until the end of summer 1996.”

That year, at the age of 79, he was diagnosed with sideroblastic anemia and began requiring units of blood. The next year he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma – cancer of the white blood cells.

Through blood donations – 64 units in all – Ira Braxton lived another 18 months.

Coble’s grandfather knew the value of blood donation, both as a recipient and as a donor himself. “He too decided to give someone the gift of life through blood donations when he was younger and in better health,” she wrote. “He knew then how important it was to donate blood.”

This year’s blood drive slogan is “Living the Carolina Way,” and Coble personally encourages faculty and staff to give the gift of life to the patients who so desperately need their help. “My family will certainly thank you as will countless others,” she said.

Read the rest of Coble’s story at

* *


Scholarly work meets real-world challenges

  Photo top left, Diane Berry, assistant professor in the School of Nursing, works with a potential participant at El Centro Latino to complete the consent form for a health education study.Photo top right, children “take the car on vacation” on El Centro Latino playground as one of the childcare sitters supervises. (Photos: Don Evans/NC Tracs Institute)

Everyone knows what happens when you toss a pebble into a pond: The ripples start out small and grow larger, reaching farther. That’s how Diane Berry, assistant professor in the School of Nursing, describes her work with Carrboro’s El Centro Latino – a nonprofit organization that provides educational and social services and cultural activities to help improve the quality of life for Latinos living in and around Orange County.

Hispanics or Latinos now represent 12 percent of the population of Carborro and almost 6 percent of Orange County. 

“Chapel Hill/Carrboro as well as areas in and around Orange County have seen significant growth in their Hispanic populations, particularly among migrant workers and other laborers and their families, who tend to be vulnerable to isolating factors,” Berry said.

“The transitory lifestyle, limited education, language barriers and challenges to accessing services create a sort of ‘silence’ among these populations. My goal is to help give them a voice and access to support both from the community and Carolina.”

Berry has worked with El Centro Latino directors, community health educators and a core group of Spanish-speaking women in the area from Mexico to implement health education classes focused on topics they select. Berry and her team have examined the women’s concerns regarding immigration, weight gain, nutrition and decreased physical activity in themselves and their children.

Using Community-Based Participatory Research and working with this core group of women during a three-year period, they refined, adapted, translated and tested a weight management intervention designed for Spanish-speaking women and their young children. 

They delivered a feasibility study in the community and included 12 weekly two-hour classes followed by three monthly two-hour classes, after which the women and children had three months on their own to see how they did.

Overall, results were positive. These women lost weight and decreased their body fat percentage, improved nutrition and physical activity knowledge, and developed eating and exercise self-efficacy. The children stabilized their weight gain.

Berry’s efforts contributed significantly to her selection by the University as one of eight 2009–10 Faculty Engaged Scholars (FESP), an initiative launched in October 2007 by the Carolina Center for Public Service and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Public Service and Engagement. 

The two-year program enables scholars to connect their faculty work with the needs of a community and apply their skills to make a difference. Scholars receive an annual stipend of $7,500, have opportunities to interact with like-minded faculty from a variety of disciplines to address relevant issues through service and engaged scholarship, and participate in workshops, panels and case studies by experts to help scholars get the most from their experiences.

A grant from Strowd Roses Inc. of Chapel Hill to the Center for Public Service is helping fund Berry’s stipend, which she is using to further the partnership she has developed with El Centro Latino and community health educators and expand it to other communities with large Spanish-speaking populations.

In only its second year, the FESP is gaining local and national recognition as an innovative, effective program to further faculty involvement in the scholarship of engagement.

Lynn Blanchard, the center’s director, has presented FESP to more than 20 universities through the national project Faculty for Engaged Campus supported by Community-Campus Partnerships for Health, with a grant from the Fund for Post-Secondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education. There has also been Canadian interest in learning how this program fosters faculty and community partnerships to create positive change.

Berry has partnered with El Centro Latino for several years to help bring the University’s knowledge and resources to bear on critical issues in the community. 

Berry’s weight-management intervention is helping community health educators and Latina participants improve nutrition and physical activity within their families. The goal is to reduce the incidence of overweight and obesity, and slow the development of type 2 (non-insulin dependent) diabetes.

“Many of the women and children we work with are uninsured and have limited access to health-promotion programs,” Berry said. “Preventing type 2 diabetes will ultimately decrease health-care costs in the long-term, but more importantly will empower families to take charge of their health. “

Berry said her involvement with El Centro Latino has added dimension to her work, inspired her teaching and enriched her perspective.

“I have always had a passion for public service, and to be able to directly apply my scholarly work in the field is tremendously rewarding to me, my team, and beneficial to my students,” she said. “It is extremely exciting when you start with a clinical problem, like type 2 diabetes, and begin to address it at the core, and maybe even prevent it, long before we have to intervene clinically.”

As a Faculty Engaged Scholar, Berry said she has learned as much or more from her experience as those she is working to serve.

“I have gained so much more than just advancing my research or collaborating with scholars outside the confines of our campus,” she said.  “I have seen firsthand that Carolina, or any institution, can and should partner equally with its surrounding community to bring contributions to the table that will ultimately affect positive change.”

Through the FESP, Berry and Carolina have set the ripples in motion. Their partnership with El Centro Latino is broadening horizons and creating solutions.

For more information about the Faculty Engaged Scholars Program, refer to

may 27, 2009

May 27 issue as pdf
Click here to read the
may 27 issue as a pdf


* *Bolshoi comes to Carolina

* *House budget could call for 11% cuts to UNC system

* *Sustainable businesses aim beyond the bottom line

* *Distance learning overcomes social, geographic barriers


Service Appreciation Insert

* *


* *





* *

(919) 962-7124 - office
(919) 962-2279 - fax

The Gazette staff is always looking
for ideas for interesting feature stories. Do you have one to share?

NEXT ISSUE: june 17

Copyright 2008 - 2009
The University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill