Public Service Scholars' Participation, Service Hours Climb

The 2009 class of Public Service Scholars is larger (171) and averaged more hours of public service (504 hours per student) than the four classes that preceded it. The fifth graduating class of Public Service Scholars was honored a few days before graduation at a ceremony at the William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education. All of the graduates received a Carolina blue and white cord to wear at Commencement to represent their achievement.

The Public Service Scholars program is designed to allow students to strengthen and maintain their commitment to service, to connect them to others who care about similar issues and to guide them to training and coursework that makes their service more effective. To graduate as a Public Service Scholar, students must have a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 2.5, complete at least 300 hours of service, take one service-learning course and attend four skills-training workshops.

The 171 graduates honored this year as Public Service Scholars are students who not only met the program’s minimum requirements, they exceeded them – reporting service hours ranging from 300 to 1,900 hours, with 10 students reporting more than 1,000 hours each. As a group, they reported more than 86,000 hours of service at an average of 504 hours per student, the highest average for a scholars graduating class to date.

“Being a Public Service Scholar allowed me to find my niche at Carolina – incorporating service into what I was learning in the classroom and laying the foundation for a lifetime of public service,” said Kaila Ramsey ’09, a scholar from Franklin who plans to join the Peace Corps. “My experiences through PSS uniquely shaped my undergraduate experience and helped prepare me to enter the public sector post-graduation. This program embodies the adage, ‘Service is a response to the privilege of education.’ ”

This year’s Public Service Scholars have worked at UNC Hospitals, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, the Autism Society of North Carolina, Rainbow Soccer and the N.C. Museum of Art. They also have participated in international public service projects through World Camp for Kids, Carolina Microfinance Initiative and the Full Belly Project.

This year, more than 1,500 students participated in the Public Service Scholars program. Since the program’s inception in 2003, more than 2,800 students have participated, contributing almost 430,000 hours of service. Current participants represent more than 75 percent of the majors across campus and come from 84 out of 100 N.C. counties, 39 other states plus Washington, D.C., and 14 other countries.

The Carolina Center for Public Service, created in 1997, engages and supports the faculty, students and staff at Carolina in meeting the needs of North Carolina and beyond. The center is designed to strengthen the University’s public service commitment by promoting scholarship and service that are responsive to the concerns of the state and contribute to the common good.

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