Global Visionaries: GAA honors two alumni who work to make a difference

Andrea Bruce ’95 and Rye Barcott ’01 have received the GAA’s Distinguished Young Alumni Award for 2006. (Photo by Sarah McCarty ’96)

Two young alumni who courageously worked to raise awareness at a local and international level were honored by the GAA at a dinner Oct. 13. Rye Barcott ’01 and Andrea Bruce ’95 received the Distinguished Young Alumni Award, which was established by the GAA in 1989 to recognize alumni age 40 and under whose work has brought credit to the University.

“The remarkable accomplishments of many of Carolina’s younger alumni are truly inspiring,” said GAA President Doug Dibbert ’70. “The GAA delights in presenting each year the Distinguished Young Alumni Awards to those who have made our alumni and our university so proud.”

Barcott, who served five years of active duty for the U.S. Marines, was a Triangle Institutes for Security Studies Millennium Fellow and a Burch Fellow at Carolina, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in peace, war and defense in 2001.

For his honors thesis project in Nairobi, Kenya, Barcott studied one of the city’s largest slums, Kibera, then established a youth soccer league and cleanup teams to address the area’s poverty and ethnic violence. When he returned to UNC for his senior year, Barcott and two associates founded the nonprofit organization Carolina for Kibera, which Time magazine’s Global Health Summit honored in 2005 as a “hero of global health.”

Today, Carolina for Kibera has helped establish community-managed solid waste management systems, provided sports equipment to build ethno-religious cooperation and started a medical clinic and women’s health center. Barcott is working to raise a $2 million endowment for the organization, even as he works toward two graduate degrees in public policy and business administration at Harvard University.

Bruce’s work also began at Carolina and grew to have a global reach. At Carolina she first hoped to be a reporter, until a photojournalism class her senior year set her on a different course. She graduated in 1995, worked in photography internships and then, in 1997, landed her first full-time job at the New Hampshire daily newspaper, the Concord Monitor, along with her first international assignment. She spent 10 days in Romania documenting the lives of street orphans. In 1999, Bruce was named photographer of the year by the New Hampshire Press Association. She then was lured south to Florida by The St. Petersburg Times briefly before being tapped by The Washington Post, where she has worked since 2001.

Bruce has photographed the war-ravaged countries of Iraq and Afghanistan, the earthquake devastation in Kashmir and the locked-down city of New Orleans during its Katrina crisis. Bruce was awarded the John Faber Award from the Overseas Press Club for her photographs of a young mother in Iraq who worked as a prostitute in her struggle to support her children and extended family. The White House News Photographers Association named Bruce Photographer of the Year in 2003, 2005 and 2006.

The Carolina Alumni Review profiled Barcott in May/June 2004 and Bruce in September/October 2005, and Bruce also chronicled her work in Romania for the Review in May/June 2001. The articles are available online to Carolina Alumni members. Also, previous recipients of the Distinguished Young Alumni Awards are listed online.

Related coverage is available online:

  • World Witness: The Photography of  Andrea Bruce ’95
    From the September/October 2005 issue of the Carolina Alumni Review, available online to Carolina Alumni members.
  • Rye Barcott Goes to War: He came to Carolina as an officer trainee. By the time he caught up with the Marines, he had plenty of trial by fire in the desperate slums of East Africa.
    From the May/June 2004 issue of the Carolina Alumni Review, available online to Carolina Alumni members.
  • The Lost Children: Through their photographs and words, a Carolina student and an alumna tell a story shared by too many of Romania’s children, living in limbo.
    From the May/June 2001 issue of the Carolina Alumni Review, available online to Carolina Alumni members.

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