Marissa Heyl ’07 stood in her online journalism class and announced to everyone that she was starting a student magazine. Among all the magazine racks that dot the campus, not a single publication put issues of social justice on the cover, and she wanted to fill that niche.
The pitch worked. Some of her classmates became staff writers. One student, Peter Cvelich, became co-editor-in-chief. And the professor of the class, Deb Aikat, became the magazine’s faculty adviser. It was Aikat who nominated Heyl for the 2007 Edward Kidder Graham Award for her work with Patchwork magazine, the publication she named and founded in 2004.
The Graham Award honors a graduating senior who has demonstrated leadership, dedication and innovation within an officially recognized student organization. In previous years, seven seniors received the honor; this year, the honor was given to Heyl alone.
The reduction in Graham recipients is a result of the award’s recent inclusion in the Chancellor’s Awards ceremony. For the past four years, the GAA held the award ceremony at The Carolina Club, where honors were given for an outstanding senior, adviser of the year and a favorite faculty member. Last fall, a five-member Graham committee voted in favor of returning the adviser award to the auspices of student affairs and returning the faculty award to the senior class.
“Because the Chancellor’s Awards are so tight for time, they selected just one superlative senior this year,” said Mike Ludwick, manager of GAA student programs. “When the GAA was holding the ceremony in The Carolina Club, we had time to recognize more than one senior for their contributions to areas such as leadership, performance or Greek life.”
By winning the award, Heyl, a journalism and mass communication major, secured $1,000 for Patchwork, a full-color, glossy magazine that is published once a semester and tackles international topics such as women’s issues, refugees and global health. The magazine’s upcoming issue deals with Millennium Development goals.
The money represents a large sum for a magazine, but Patchwork has never used its funds for just paper and ink.
“Marissa always wanted Patchwork to be more than a magazine,” Cvelich said. “She wanted it to be interactive, bringing in speakers and having forums for discussion.”
In spring 2006, Heyl did just that, organizing Empowerment through Innovative Development Week, a five-day event that featured a fair trade craft sale and local entrepreneurs speaking about their projects. Patchwork released its globalization-themed spring issue at the week’s main event, a panel about community development in the Triangle.
Last spring, Patchwork presented “Threading Livelihood: Supporting Indian Craftswomen through Fair Trade,” an exhibition featuring photos and hand-embroidered textiles that was displayed at the Johnston Center in April.
The four-part exhibition explored the lives of craftswomen living in remote villages in Kutch, India, and how fair trade organizations have helped them sell their embroidery on the global market. Last fall, Heyl traveled to India to examine how fair trade empowered local craftswomen, and the exhibition is an extension of her time there.
“I feel that media can be used to promote positive social change,” said Heyl, who also works with Campus Y’s Advocates for Human Rights. “It shouldn’t just be used to report news; it should raise awareness about social justice issues.”
Recently, Heyl was awarded the Eli Fellowship by Ten Thousand Villages, the largest fair trade retailer in the U.S. In July, she is moving to Akron, Pa., to begin working in Ten Thousand Villages’ marketing division. The organization works with more than 100 artisan groups to improve the livelihood of disadvantaged people in developing countries through the expansion of fair trade.
“I am using the same skills that I developed with Patchwork,” Heyl said. “I’m using different media to promote this socially and ethically responsible consumerism.”
The Edward Kidder Graham Award is named for the 1898 alumnus and former UNC president who introduced the concept of the student union to Carolina in 1917.
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