Carolina honors 10 individuals, organizations for public service
The projects recognized March 30 at the 2016 Public Service Awards celebration are distinct and important in their own ways, but their commitment to serving their communities unites them.
This year’s award recipients, who include students, faculty, staff and community partners, have dedicated countless hours to service efforts – from combatting food insecurity to supporting Native American tribes in North Carolina to offering positive birth experiences through doulas.
The awards are sponsored each year by the Carolina Center for Public Service, and celebrated by Chancellor Carol L. Folt who will present the awards.
“The University’s three-part mission to research, educate and serve our local communities, state, nation and world is truly enhanced by our unwavering commitment to public service,” Folt said. “The recipients of this year’s Public Service Awards prove that public service and engaged scholarship enhance the research conducted, lessons taught and knowledge used to serve the public good at this University. I am incredibly proud to recognize the innovation, scholarship and dedication that each of today’s award recipients has displayed.”
Beverly Foster, clinical associate professor and director of undergraduate education in the School of Nursing, received the 2016 Ned Brooks Award for Public Service for more than 30 years of service providing and supporting public service within Carolina and across North Carolina. Foster remains active in many local and state agencies related to health and human services, having served for many years on the Orange County Board of Health and, as chair and member of Healthy Carolinians in Orange County. At the state level, she serves on the Healthy Carolinians Advisory Board and as board chair of the Foundation for Nursing Excellence. Her knowledge of public health and commitment to improving health outcomes created lasting impressions on the local and state levels.
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. They are:
Rhonda Lanning, clinical assistant professor in the School of Nursing, won for engaged teaching for her work on the Supporting the Childbearing Family course. In this course, students are paired with professional doulas to develop their skills and provide care to women and families at North Caro- lina Women’s Hospital. This course collaborates with UNC Birth Partners to serve more families, expanding to vulner- able populations such as incarcerated mothers, as well as women experiencing substance-abuse disorders and signifi- cant perinatal mood illnesses.
Molly De Marco, research assistant professor of nutrition and project director in the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, won for engaged research. The U.S. Department of Agriculture funds SNAP-Ed UNC: Healthy Food for All in North Carolina project, which DeMarco directs, to provide nutrition education to people eligible for SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps) in six predominately rural North Carolina counties. Intervention activities include implementing 18 community gardens, working with three farmers’ markets to remove barriers to use of SNAP benefits and increasing summer meals sites. The American Indian Center and North Carolina Tribal Nations won for partnership. This award honors their partnership on successful efforts, including the Healthy Native North Carolinians Network, NC Native Asset Coalition and NC Native Leadership Institute. These initiatives support sustainable community change to address the health and wellbeing of North Carolina tribal nations and foster unity across all tribes and American Indian communities in North Carolina. The winners of the Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award, which recognizes students, staff and faculty for exemplary public service efforts, are:
Gayatri Rathod, a biology major from Charlotte, received the undergraduate student award for her work with Tar Heel TABLE, an organization that provides healthy, emergency food aid to hungry preschool, elementary and middle-school children living in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. In her two years as co-chair of Tar Heel TABLE, Rathod launched social media photo campaigns, food drives and news interviews to increase TABLE’s outreach and involvement. In all of her efforts, Rathod has emphasized involvement in TABLE with the hope of combatting hunger.
Catherine Schricker and Korry Tauber, both graduate students in the School of Dentistry, shared the graduate student award for their work with North Carolina Missions of Mercy (NCMOM) Patient Oral Health Education Program. Tauber and Schricker created and implemented an oral health educational program to supplement the North Carolina Dental Society’s portable free dental clinic. They collaborated with community partners and faculty mentors to develop their oral health education program, which is now a permanent component of the NCMOM clinics. Student volunteers provide personalized dental health instruction using visual aids in combination with interactive demonstrations.
Christopher Wallace, program coordinator at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture & History, received the staff award for his work with the Communiversity Youth Program. Communiversity draws on existing University resources and coordinates them so they can serve local children more effectively. The program exposes kindergarten through fifth-grade students to a college environment and provides them with academic and cultural tools to improve their performance in the classroom, social outlook and likeli- hood of success in a college environment;
Josh Hinson, clinical assistant professor in the School of Social Work, received the faculty award for his work on UNC Global Transmigration – Refugee Mental Health and Wellness Initiative. This project began by training graduate students to use an evidence-based refugee mental health screening instrument and collect data on the extent of refugees’ mental health needs and the effectiveness of mental health treatment. In 2015, Refugee Wellness began contracting with the North Carolina Division of Health and Human Services’ Refugee Office to provide mental health services to refugees throughout Wake, Durham and Orange counties; and Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC), which received the campus organization award for its work as a student-led organization whose mission is to provide free health services to local, underserved individuals and communities; partner with communities to develop and implement sustainable health programs; and create an interdisciplinary service-learning environment for students in the health science programs at Carolina. Established in 1967, SHAC operates weekly interdisciplinary acute medical and dental clinics, as well as chronic care and referral services and home health services. SHAC serves more than 1,100 patients annually through these clinical services.
In addition to these public service awards, several other groups were recognized, including six Bryan Fellowship teams involving 26 students, seven Community Engagement Fellowship projects created by eight students, the recipient of the 2016 Mingma Norbu Sherpa Fellowship, two students who received the Davis Projects for Peace Award, and 10 North Carolina Outward Bound scholarship recipients.