Individuals, Organizations Recognized for Service to State

Working with the Burmese immigrant community in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, partnering with the Special Olympics of Orange County, developing a statewide consortium of future K-12 teachers who take the practice of service-learning into public schools and addressing the state’s major health and healthcare issues are a few of the public service efforts led by UNC faculty, staff, students and organizations this year.

The Carolina Center for Public Service recognized those and other initiatives at its annual service awards Friday. Seven individuals and student organizations were honored at a luncheon at the Morehead Building on campus.

“These outstanding individuals and projects are evidence of the many ways that Carolina responds to needs across the state,” said Lynn Blanchard ’85 (MPH, ’89 PhD), the center’s director. “All the nominees and recipients demonstrate that this University partners with individuals, organizations and communities in meaningful ways. By honoring them, we are recognizing the importance of these connections as an integral part of who we are as an institution.”

The Ned Brooks Award for Public Service, named for Brooks ’85 (DrPH), a faculty member and administrator at Carolina since 1972, recognizes a faculty or staff member who has built a sustained record of community service through individual efforts and promoted the involvement and guidance of others.

Pam Silberman ’81 (JD, ’97 DrPH), a research associate professor in the School of Public Health’s department of health policy and administration, is the recipient of the sixth annual Ned Brooks Award for Public Service. Silberman, who also is president and chief executive officer of the N.C. Institute of Medicine, was recognized for her research, which has led to legislation of benefit to the state, including the state’s child health insurance law, dental care access, and insurance coverage for low-income populations, as well as dozens of reports and analyses that have informed state-level policy making on topics such as health services for children and adolescents, health insurance, the health care “safety net,” the health care work force and managed care. Her involvement of residents, fellows, graduate students and other faculty in these endeavors has created a direct and effective link between the University’s analytical capacity and health policy in North Carolina.

The Carolina Center for Public Service also presented two Office of the Provost Public Service Awards honoring campus units for service to North Carolina. This year’s recipients are the Student Coalition for Advocacy in Literacy Education (SCALE) and the UNC School of Law Center for Civil Rights.

SCALE is honored for its program Learning to Teach, Learning to Serve. The program is a statewide consortium of public and private universities designed to develop a generation of K-12 teachers who have extensive experience with service-learning. The program team works with selected community partners, K-12 schools and afterschool programs to identify community concerns that can be addressed through placement of trained volunteer pre-service teacher candidates.

The UNC School of Law Center for Civil Rights is recognized for its work representing several communities in Moore County advocating to address annexation issues. The success of their work was built on the trust developed early on between residents and the center. One resident said the following of the relationship: “I am so thankful for the center. … We were struggling down here – when they first started working with us, I didn’t know which way was up. … I thought I was in a strange land. But, when I think about all of things they’ve done with us, I just feel more invigorated.”

The Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award – recognizing individual students and faculty for exemplary public service efforts – this year goes to graduate students Megan Ellenson and Thanh-Thu Tran, faculty member Flora Lu and staff member Hannah Gill.

Ellenson, a second-year graduate student in the School of Public Health’s health behavior and health education department, has devoted her time at Carolina to working with and for the Burmese immigrant community in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. After working as part of a team project to identify issues faced by these recent refugees, she wrote a grant to support the children’s participation in a school-based art therapy program.

Tran, a second-year student in the School of Medicine, is honored for her work in initiating and nurturing the involvement of the school with Orange County’s Special Olympics program. She has recruited medical students to serve as coaches and as medical staff for the various Special Olympics events and competitions.

Lu, assistant professor of anthropology at UNC, is being recognized for her community-based research course on social justice. Students collaborate with community partners around the state to develop research based on community needs and to communicate their findings back to the community in relevant ways. Undergraduates in Lu’s course have worked on issues from assessing hog waste technologies to investigating the feasibility of the University purchasing locally produced food.

Gill, assistant director of Institute for the Study of the Americas in the Center for Global Initiatives, was honored for her work in developing the Latin American Immigrant Perspectives course. This interdisciplinary course focuses on exploring the global and local aspects of migration and gives students the opportunity to work with immigrants in North Carolina as well as spend their spring break in immigrants’ home communities in Guanajuato, Mexico.

The Carolina Center for Public Service leads the University’s engagement efforts and service to the state of North Carolina and beyond by linking the expertise and energy of faculty, staff, and students to the needs of the people.

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