D&I Welcomes Class of 2021

DMA student staffers greet a student at orientation

DMA student staff Justin Williford (left) and Brittany Grant greet a first-year student at 2017 orientation

At UNC-Chapel Hill’s Aquarium Lounge, first year students are as wide-eyed as the brightly hued fish in the giant tank behind them. Numerous departments and organizations are present during these summertime orientation days, offering a bounty of resources and swag for Carolina’s newest cohort. It can be hard to choose where to begin, but many students – and their parents – make a beeline for the Diversity & Multicultural Affairs table.

Often, they are unsure about whether DMA is a student organization or a department – and how it supports students. DMA student staffers Justin Williford and Brittany Grant, both rising juniors, happily clarify and launch into a list of the many programs under its purview. “People are surprised about the number of programs we offer,” notes Justin. “I’ve had some shocked looks when I tell them that we more or less have a program going on every day during Latinx Heritage Month or when I tell them all that we offer during January for our MLK festivities. Some of them are just happy to see a familiar organization, having participated in Project Uplift and now having committed to Carolina.”

Indeed, the amount of resources provided by DMA is impressive. “There isn’t a single definition of what our office is. DMA encompasses a multitude of values, ideas, events, people, etc. so we try our hardest to make sure that what we tell the students represents the office in the best way possible,” notes Brittany. “Although most students immediately recognize Carolina Latinx Collaborative, CHISPA and ACE, they’ll pick up our brochure (along with freebie pens and sanitizers) and many are surprised to find out how connected DMA is with other departments and organizations on campus. Even if they aren’t interested in working directly for the office, they express a great desire to get involved with the various organizations associated with DMA, like MLK celebrations, CLC, Decision Day, etc.”

Student reactions are a mixture of relief and intrigue. “I didn’t know what to expect when I came here today,” said a student from Charlotte. “I was impressed by how many opportunities there are just from this one [department]. Everyone was really friendly and made me feel welcome.”

The first years connect particularly well with Brittany and Justin, who stood on the student side of the table just two years prior. “Orientation is two full grueling days, so most students are really tired,” says Justin. “I’ve spoken to a few of them about that – how after orientation, I wondered if Carolina was going to be for me because it all just felt like too much. Several of them noted that this resonated with them.”

Visitors on Orientation Day are escorted on a timed schedule, with new groups arriving every 15-20 minutes, so the pace doesn’t let up…but Brittany’s and Justin’s energy levels don’t flag for a moment. A student approaches, asking about the benefits of participating in ACE (Achieving Carolina Excellence), the first-year early move-in and networking opportunity for underrepresented students. Justin gives him a summary of the program, explaining that it’s a chance to get acclimated with Carolina before the hustle and bustle around first day of classes.

He then talks about how much fun he has being on campus two to three weeks early for RA training. “My absolute favorite time to be on this campus is when it’s not as busy,” he says. “You get all of Carolina’s beauty and legacy to yourself and a handful of others. Some of the best friendships I’ve made at Carolina came out of the intensive two week trainings we had, and the work together that came to follow. ACE will be a similar experience and, through the program, you’ll likely make friends to last your entire college career.”

Enthused and inspired, the student shakes Justin’s hand, ready to join the Carolina community as a full-fledged, participating member. As he moves on to the next table, brochure in hand, Justin smiles. “It’s so surreal to see someone get so engaged in these dialogues. It’s good to know I can make a positive impact. And you never know – that same kid can wind up working with me at DMA one day.”


– by Adrianne Gibilisco

Campus Organizations Celebrate Graduates


Participants in the Exitos Commencement Ceremony, with VC Winston Crisp, Interim CDO Rumay Alexander and AD, Multicultural Programs & CLC Josmell Perez (Ramses cheering in the back row).

In the days leading up to the University’s Doctoral Hooding ceremony and main Commencement at Kenan Stadium, Chancellor Carol L. Folt and University leaders celebrated with the soon-to-be graduates at smaller graduations hosted by campus groups.

The graduation celebrations began May 5 with the Carolina Grad Student F1RSTS — a program for graduate students who are the first in their families to earn a master’s or doctoral degree.

“It is a milestone, and it’s really fun for us to get to celebrate that,” Folt said. “Let’s put an exclamation point on these wonderful accomplishments.”

Folt then joined more than a dozen Carolina student-athletes at the Blue Zone on May 7. The ceremony celebrated the graduating students who would be away from Chapel Hill for competition during the larger commencement. Folt told the student-athletes that the same set of traits they bring to their sports are also the same that help them excel in the classroom.

”I think part of your athletic performance has played a huge part in who you are in your academic performance,” she said.

Also on May 7, the LGBTQ Center held it’s 12th annual Lavender Graduation, which honored sexuality studies minors, graduating LGBTQ-identified students and their allies. During the event, Folt thanked the 35 graduates for their courage and effort in creating change at Carolina.

“I can’t feel anything but hope when I look out at all of you because you are the faces of the future,” she said. “You are the fresh ideas, you’re the personalities, you’re the humor, you’re inventions, you’re the discoveries, you’re the people that are going to change the way that we treat each other and the ones who are going to help push us forward in all fields of human endeavor.”

On May 10, Folt joined the American Indian Center in celebrating American Indian students and students graduating with a degree in American Indian and Indigenous studies. The 11 graduates were presented with pottery turtles during the ceremony.

Through sharing their culture with the campus community, Folt said, the graduates helped make the University more inclusive.

“You’ve made Carolina a home for everyone and that is a very special thing to be able to say,” she said. “Know that you’ve left your mark here.”

Carolina graduate and founder of imaginED Partners Priscilla Maynor delivered the commencement address, challenging the graduates to take set high goals and take the risks necessary to reach them.

Graduates who support and promote Latino communities on campus were recognized at Carolina Latina/o Collaborative’s Éxitos graduation on May 11. The 30 graduating seniors were presented with gold chords and a special stole to wear at commencement.

“This is a remarkable milestone in your lives,” Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Winston Crisp told the graduates. “This is not an easy path that you have chosen for yourself — not choosing the education route and certainty not going to this place. You’ve had to overcome many things to get here today.”

Antonio Serrato, a doctoral student in the biology department, was the event’s keynote speaker. A first-generation college student who immigrated to the United States from Mexico as a 15-year-old, Serrato shared his path that led to Carolina and encouraged the graduates to follow their passions.

Participants in the 2017 Red, White & Carolina Blue ceremony, honoring military students.

On May 12, Carolina’s graduating veterans, reservists, National Guard members and future commissioned officers were honored at the Red, White and Carolina Blue Graduation Ceremony. Air Force ROTC Cadet Alejandra Fontalvo and Army veteran Ian Wright served as the event’s student speakers.

Held at the Great Hall of the Student Union, the graduates were presented with a challenge coin and their Military Honor Cords either by Folt or their family members.

The graduating veterans and ROTC members, Folt said, have been crucial to creating more services and programs for veterans and service members on campus.

“You’ve left your mark here at UNC,” she said. “…We want to thank you for all that you’ve done. Congratulations on your achievements and your commissioning. We’re proud of you and we are proud of what you are doing for our nation.”

Published May 8, 2017. Updated May 12, 2017.
By Brandon Bieltz, University Communications

Student Spotlight: Jackie Cerón-Hernández

Jackie - White House cropped

Ask a student on campus when they first knew that Carolina was the place for them, and many would answer, “As early as four years old.” Indeed, for many, Carolina blue runs through their veins. For others, however, that dream doesn’t manifest itself until much later. Consider Jackie Cerón-Hernández, who hadn’t entertained a notion of attending Carolina until her senior year in high school, when she first heard about the University while applying for college.

Jackie’s story begins in Mexico, where she spent the first 12 years of her life. Like many children, her intended career path was constantly changing and her move to the United States changed the trajectory of her future plans. She knew she had to go to college if she wanted to follow one of her many career paths but that dream seemed out of reach due to the high cost of attending college. With the help of a merit scholarship awarded to Jackie by the University of North Carolina, her dreams of obtaining a degree were realized. In her time here at Carolina, Jackie has served as the MLK 5K Coordinator, a summer intern in D.C., and a mentor for other students. Just prior to her graduation from UNC-CH, Jackie described her journey from Mexico to Carolina and beyond:

Could you describe your childhood and family structure growing up?

I was born and raised in El Estado de Mexico and I lived there until I was 12 years old. I lived with both of my grandparents on my mom’s side. My dad was not around during my childhood because he was going back and forth between the US and Mexico. So, for a long time, I did not have a father figure. I do remember every two weeks we would go to Tlaxcala, the state where my grandparents are from. That is where I spent most of my childhood.

Why did your family decide to move to the United States?

We moved here because my father had been coming back and forth from Mexico to the United States. He finally decided that it was time for all of us to come with him. He didn’t want us to be separated and he thought he could give us a better life in the United States. We moved to Durham, NC when I was 12 years old and have been there ever since.

Were there any defining moments or events growing up that led you to choose your current path?

Ever since I was little, I would mention all these different types of careers to my mom. I would tell people I wanted be a chef, model, a doctor — everything and anything. For the longest time, I said I was going to be an accountant like my uncle or get involved in business like my aunt, but that changed when I got to high school. My pediatrician inspired me to look into health careers. I shifted everything I had wanted to do to something in the health field. When I got to high school, I continued on the health path, but when I came to Carolina and started taking science classes, I learned that healthcare was not my passion. Then, someone in the Public Policy department, a professor, reached out to me at the perfect moment and told me about the department. I ended up liking public policy courses, so I switched my major.

Jackie, posing at the Old WellWhich aspects of Carolina aided in your decision to choose this school?

My whole high school career I had never heard of Carolina. I knew I had to go to college and get a degree, but as a first generation college student and an immigrant, I was not fully aware of the schools or my options. When it came to applying, I applied to a bunch of different schools in North Carolina. I ended up here because I was offered a merit scholarship that covered all costs. There was no way my parents could afford my education, which is why I chose to come here, because of my scholarship.

What did you find most rewarding about your work as the MLK Coordinator for the 5K?

I was never expecting this position. I had originally planned on working with the recruitment side of DMA. When I was offered this position, I took it because I was interested in what the office stood for. The 5K was a totally new initiative, which I began working on during my sophomore year. No one had any experience but we were all excited because we were raising money for a good cause. There is a lot of behind the scenes work, such as trying to reach out to sponsors and organizations that are receiving the funds. The most rewarding part is all the work you put into the program over the course of the semester finally comes together. You get to witness everything you planned. Then you hear people talk about how much they liked the event, the idea of getting people together for a cause, and raising awareness for the cause.

What other extracurricular activities have you been involved with at Carolina or in the Chapel Hill community?

Since my first year at Carolina, I’ve been involved with DMA. I started with MSRC (Minority Students Recruitment Committee), just being on panels for students and parents, helping out during registration and recruitment events. Then I decided to take on a leadership position within DMA and that’s how I came to be the 5K Coordinator. In addition, I’ve been a part of NCsli, a mentoring program for high-schoolers, where I served as an English instructor for sophomores. I was part of the Masters of Accounting mentoring program where they bring in different speakers, [and] put on workshops about how to be professional. I served on the Teaching Awards Committee to help select the Lifetime Mentor Award and then I served as a Scholarship Ambassador through the Office of Scholarship and Student Aid, [which is] made up of a group of students who are supposed to talk to university administrators and potential donors about why their money is making a difference at the University.

You spent some time interning in DC. Describe that experience.

I was in DC for a semester and the summer. During the semester, I was there through the Honors Public Policy program, where you get to intern at a place of your choice and you get to take two classes. I took a class on domestic policy as well as [one on] foreign policy. I applied to intern with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics out of the Department of Education. In my role with the Initiative, I was in charge of social media to share resources that the Initiative has created for people and to amplify that through social media or recognizing students that we heard about in the department. I also helped lead the Women of Color STEM conference at Arizona State University. I also helped create a guide for DACA students to help them know what to do post-graduation. Then I interned with [NC] Congressman G.K. Butterfield, just doing clerical work like answering phones, emails, White House tours, House Congress tours, greeting people who came into the office. Actually, for a week, our supervisor was out of the office on vacation and my co-intern and I had to run the office! Sometimes I would get to go to briefings either on the Hill or at universities. I would go, sit in, take notes, and write memos for the staff in charge of immigration or transportation.

Jackie, at the Department of Defense podium in the PentagonWhat are your plans post-graduation? Where do you see yourself in five years?

Plan A is to go to graduate school. I applied to the Masters of Accounting program [at Carolina] and I should hear back about that [soon]. I will go for a year and then I will practice accounting for a couple of years. If not, plan B is to work around the area within higher education, since that’s what I’ve spent my time as an undergrad doing. Regardless of where I end up or what I end up doing, I would like to be a role model or mentor for underrepresented students who have struggled like I have and provide [the kind of] moral support that I was offered throughout college. I want to show students that there are different people who look like them working in a variety of fields. Lastly, I would like to start a scholarship fund for students trying to get into graduate school because there are many funds available for undergraduates but not as many for graduate students.

What lessons have you learned in your time at Carolina that you hope to carry with you as you start a new chapter in your life?

To be flexible, open minded, and always keep your options open. Don’t have a set plan. Have an idea, but from my experience, you may encounter different opportunities that you have never heard of before and then you end up pursuing a different route. Be open to change.

What advice would you give to incoming Carolina students or students currently here at Carolina?

Don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re struggling. Use your resources and get to know your classmates, peers, work peers, boss, etc. Every person knows someone that you may need to know and they can get you connected to different opportunities.

By Brittany Grant

SWING Applications Open

The UNC Chapel Hill School of Social Work is pleased to announce our 4th annual Social Work Introduction for the Next Generation (SWING) program. This three day on-campus event will be held at UNC-CH June 25-27, 2017. This event is co-sponsored by the School of Social Work and the Health Affairs Pipeline Partnership Initiative, a UNC collaboration aimed at increasing the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority students in health careers.

We believe it is essential to encourage students to plan early for careers and be exposed to various disciplines. Social work is a profession committed to the development of the full potential of individuals, groups and communities.  The aim of the SWING program is to stimulate students’ interest in social work by allowing them to meet and learn first-hand about the work of social workers and opportunities in the field. Students will have the opportunity to stay on campus, learn tips for applying to college, engage in hands-on experience volunteering in a local community non-profit, complete a Strengths Quest assessment to identify their 5 most prominent personality traits, and much more.

We invite you to share this with academically competitive high school juniors from historically underserved, low income, or first-generation backgrounds who are interested in learning more about social work. The application process is electronic and can be accessed here. The application deadline is April 28th. Space is limited, so applying early is recommended. Students must complete the application online and upload a recommendation letter from a principal, teacher, counselor, or adviser to be considered. Students selected to participate will be notified by May 12, 2017. Students must meet the following criteria to apply:

  • Interests that are congruent with the social work profession (ie: advocacy, counseling, service, leadership, desire to help others, etc.)
  • Current high school Junior
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA (4.0 scale)
  • Planning to attend college

The goal of SWING is to have students leave with a greater understanding of and interest in pursuing a career in social work.  Participants will receive on-campus lodging, all meals, a SAT study book, and a certificate of completion for attending. Parents/guardians are responsible for transportation to and from the program in Chapel Hill, NC.

For more information, please visit http://ssw.unc.edu/swing. If you have questions, please contact Ben Balderas, Assistant Director of Recruitment, Admissions & Financial Aid, at 919-843-6284 or ben_balderas@unc.edu.


2nd Annual Diversity in STEM Conference

The 2nd annual Diversity in STEM Conference, taking place on March 24, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center, will tackle many of the same concepts as the inaugural event: examining ways to bolster diversity and inclusion in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The all-day experience will focus on topics related to the impact of diversity on STEM research, funding, and development; connections between STEM faculty recruitment, retention, development, and diversity; and Women of Color in STEM fields.

This year’s event will feature nationally recognized diversity in STEM leaders Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, President of UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), who is the keynote speaker; Dr. Christine Grant, Associate Dean of Faculty Development and Special Initiatives in the College of Engineering and Professor of Chemical Engineering (NC State University), and Dr. Jorge Cham, Author/Cartoonist of Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD Comics).

Diversity & Multicultural Affairs is sponsoring the morning faculty and staff workshop with Dr. Christine Grant. The workshop will provide strategies and tools for mentoring and coaching students who are underrepresented in STEM fields. Registration is free and open to all faculty and staff at UNC-Chapel Hill. However, faculty who lead labs, interdisciplinary groups, research collaboratives, and/or have an interest in diversifying their teams are strongly encouraged to participate. Please click here to register.

For additional information, please click here.

The 2nd annual Diversity in STEM Conference is sponsored by Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, Office of Research Communications, Office of Graduate Education, the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, and the Department of Chemistry

Let’s talk about freedom of speech

Mark Merritt speaks with group during Carolina Conversations about First Amendment Rights

Mark Merritt speaks with group during Carolina Conversations about First Amendment Rights

Which of the following is considered speech protected by the First Amendment?

  1. Picketing a military funeral with the sign “Thank God for dead soldiers”
  2. Burning an American flag
  3. Wearing blackface at a fraternity fundraiser
  4. Marching in a parade in Nazi uniforms with swastikas
  5. None of the above
  6. All of the above

The answer is “all of the above.” And, distasteful as these examples are, this freedom of expression is at the heart of American democracy, explained Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Mark Merritt at Thursday evening’s Carolina Conversation on First Amendment protected speech.

Launched last year, Carolina Conversations is a University effort to engage students, faculty and staff in dialogue around issues of equity and inclusion related to race, intellectual diversity, religion, identity and culture. Merritt’s presentation was the most recent event in the series, designed to ensure that Carolina remains an inclusive and welcoming campus for all.

“The thought that you end bad speech by trying to restrict it is contrary to the fundamental premise of the First Amendment,” Merritt told the audience gathered in the Student Union Aquarium Lounge.

The First Amendment of the Constitution says that the federal government (and state and local governments, by extension through the 14th Amendment) will make no law “abridging the freedom of speech.” The primary purpose of the amendment is to protect political speech from being punished or restricted by the government.

As a public university and a state agency, Carolina is part of the government and must be vigilant in protecting free speech. But not all speech is free speech.

“If you think of the First Amendment as a series of concentric circles, at the very core of what is protected is political speech,” Merritt said. “As you get farther from political speech – for example, in commercials – the protection changes, and the ability of the state to regulate speech gets stronger.”

Sometimes it’s difficult to separate when someone is talking policy versus politics. Merritt gave an example of a faculty member writing a letter to the editor saying how important some immigrants are for the economy versus ranting about the crazy people in Washington who oppose immigrants. “Those are the extremes. What’s harder is somewhere in the middle.”

The University has been recognized for its commitment to free speech by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). The group gave Carolina its best rating – the Green Light – making the University one of only two institutions in the state with that rating and the only public institution.

Protecting free speech doesn’t mean the University and its employees have to tolerate threats, racial epithets, cyberstalking or harassment. When “Bash the Fash” flyers – showing a figure beating a Trump supporter – were being posted on campus recently, Merritt said Chancellor Carol L. Folt’s response was the right one.

“The flyer and its message are the antithesis of the values that are the foundation of our University,” Folt wrote in the Feb. 16 campus email. “It is not designed to spark civil discourse or encourage thoughtful debate. Its intentions are to incite violence, and there is no place for that here or in our society.”

The same principle applies in the workplace. “We do have policies in place about harassment in the work environment,” Merritt said. If you find a co-worker’s speech offensive, “you are free to tell them you find it offensive and why.”

Interim Chief Diversity Officer Rumay Alexander reminded the audience that they can express their concerns with CUS, her acronym for telling someone that you are concerned, uncomfortable or don’t feel safe because of their speech.

When speech sounds hateful but is protected by the First Amendment, the wisest course is to develop a tough skin and keep talking, Merritt said.

“The theory under the First Amendment – and the courts have said this repeatedly – is the antidote to that kind of speech is more speech. It’s educating people. It’s understanding what motivates them to say that,” Merritt said. “It takes time and good speech to overcome the attitudes that are embedded in bad speech.”

By Susan Hudson, University Gazette

Published February 24, 2017

Women’s History Month

Since the first International Women’s Day, in 1911, Women’s History Month has been celebrated – in one way or another – in the United States. It wasn’t until 1978, however, when Sonoma, California’s school district participated in Women’s History Week, that it precipitated a chain reaction of yearly events to honor women’s contributions to society. Just a year later, Sarah Lawrence College held a women’s history conference (co-sponsored by the Women’s Action Alliance and the Smithsonian Institution) that lasted over two weeks. Participants agreed to initiate yearly local celebrations. President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation in 1980, declaring the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week. In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week and it became a month-long cultural celebration in 1987, and the proclamation has been reissued annually.

At Carolina, we honor Women’s History Month with a wide variety of events, including panel discussions, workshops, lectures, screenings and more. The following calendar includes events scheduled to take place at UNC-Chapel Hill during this month.

March is Women’s History Month at UNC


Screening: “Miss Representation”
Thursday, March 2, 7:00 – 9:00 PM
Hamilton Hall, Room 100

Join Feminist Students United and co-sponsor, Embody Carolina, as they kick off March with a screening of Miss Representation in room 100 of Hamilton Hall!  The documentary “explores how mainstream media contributes to the under-representation of women in influential positions by circulating limited and often disparaging portrayals of women.” A discussion about the topics of the film will follow. For the month of March, FSU plans to begin a tampon and pad drive to donate to local organizations. They ask that anyone who is able to please bring a donation of feminine products to the screening. Donations will be taken to the Compass Center for Women and Families. We will be collecting donations there for Compass Center for Women and Families.

Digging in Our Heels: The Herstory of Women at Carolina
Tour begins at UNC Visitor’s Center (Morehead Planetarium)
Friday, March 3, 3:00 – 4:30 PM

Anthropology PhD candidate Taylor Livingston was commissioned by UNC Visitors’ Center to research and develop this tour utilizing recordings from the Southern Oral History Collection.  The title refers to a time when women could not enroll in the University.  The tour will “travel” through the centuries, to interpret and help understanding of today’s current issues.

Inaugural Women of Worth Spring Conference
Sonja Haynes Stone Center
Saturday, March 4, 9:00 AM – 1:30 PM

This year’s theme is The Strength of Our Stories, inspired by Rupi Kaur’s poem – ‘Women of Color.’ This conference aims to center the voices of UNC Chapel Hill’s women of color and indigenous women (Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Pacific Islander, Multi-Racial, etc.), provide tools and resources to help combat negative representations and trends, and create a collaborative sense of community. It is our goal for conference attendees to learn to cultivate self-worth and to identify sources of empowerment for all of us to become our best selves.


Gender, Activism, and Leadership
Student Union Room 2420
Monday, March 6, 5:30 – 6:30 PM

Lead by Kate Kryder, Co-Curricular Leadership Program Coordinator, Student Life & Leadership, “Gender, Activism, and Leadership” is part of the Gender Week events schedule, presented by the Carolina Women’s Center.  Students will discuss how to effectively build coalitions and sustained partnerships around issues of gender equity. This interactive session will help students build relationships and create attainable goals and action items.

UAAW Luncheon: Pursuing Gender Equity Every Day
Sonja Haynes Stone Center Hitchcock Multpurpose Room
Tuesday, March 7, 12:00 – 1:30 PM

In the spirit of celebrating the University Awards for the Advancement of Women (UAAW), the Carolina Women’s Center is gathering together previous winners to learn how they pursued gender equity in their everyday roles on campus. Bob Pleasants (2011), Laurie McNeil (2010), Jenny Ting (2013), and Terri Phoenix (2015), share how they worked to improve gender equity at UNC Chapel Hill from their positions as faculty or staff. What inspired their action? How did they decide what to do first (and next)? How, in effect, did they become leaders and change agents in their corners of the university? We hope this discussion will inspire you to ask yourself, “How can I work towards gender equity?”

Lunch will be provided. Please register HERE.

Finding the Mentorship You Need
Student Union Aquarium Lounge
Wednesday, March 8, 3:00 – 5:00 PM

Maria Erb (Co-Director, Office of Diversity and Student Success with the Graduate School), Susan Girdler (founder of WISDOM), Gloria Thomas (Director, Women’s Center) and Ada Wilson (Director of Inclusive Student Excellence) share how they found mentorship and share strategies to identify mentors and build relationships with them. This event targets graduate students, junior faculty, and early career staff. Light refreshments will be provided.


Screening: No Más Bebés
Chapman Hall, Room 201 (205 Columbia Street)
Tuesday, March 21, 7:00 – 9:00  PM

The film tells the story of a little-known but landmark event in reproductive justice, when a small group of Mexican immigrant women sued country doctors, the state, and the U.S. government after they were sterilized while giving birth at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Sponsored by the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies.

Screening & Panel Discussion: Equal Means Equal
Stone Center
Thursday, March 23, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

The Carolina Women’s Center and ERA-NC Alliance are hosting a free screening of the documentary Equal Means Equal, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A. Panelists will include:

  • Gloria Thomas, Director, Carolina Women’s Center
  • Marena Groll: Co-Chair, ERA-NC Alliance
  • Leisha DeHart-Davis, Associate Professor, UNC School of Government
  • NaShonda Cook, Educator, Durham County Public Schools

For more information, go to http://equalmeansequal.com/

Diversity In STEM Conference
Sonja Haynes Stone Center
Friday, March 24, 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM

This 2nd annual conference is focused on examining ways to bolster diversity and inclusion in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The all-day experience will focus on the impact of diversity on STEM research, funding, and development; connections between STEM faculty recruitment, retention, development, and diversity; and Women of Color in STEM fields. It will feature nationally recognized diversity in STEM leaders:

  • Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, President of UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) since 1992, is a consultant on science and math education to national agencies, universities, and school systems. He was named by President Obama to chair the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. He also chaired the National Academies’ committee that produced the report, Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads (2011). Named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME (2012) and one of America’s Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report (2008), he also received TIAA-CREF’s Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence (2011), the Carnegie Corporation’s Academic Leadership Award (2011), and the Heinz Award (2012) for contributions to improving the “Human Condition.” UMBC has been recognized as a model for inclusive excellence by such publications as U.S. News, which the past eight years has recognized UMBC as a national leader in academic innovation and undergraduate teaching.
  •  Dr. Christine Grant is an Academic Resilience Strategist who partners with individuals and organizations to empower women and men in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).   She has degrees in Chemical Engineering (B.S., Brown; M.S. and Ph.D., Georgia Tech). An international speaker, Grant conducts career coaching, professional development workshops, and keynotes across the U.S., in Ghana and Australia; her consulting company, CoolSci Productions, LLC (drchristinegrant.com) designs custom, targeted programming for corporate and academic environments. A Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular engineering at NC State; she’s one of less than ten African-American women in the U.S. at that rank.  Her research has focused on surface and interfacial phenomena. She is the Associate Dean of Faculty Advancement in the NC State College of Engineering.  She has led in her profession as: a Fellow and Board of Directors member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE); a Visiting Senior Scholar at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); an Expert in the NSF Engineering Directorate; and a visiting faculty at Caltech, Duke and UPenn.  Grant’s been recognized with several awards for broadening the participation, promotion and retention of underrepresented minorities (URM) and women in STEM including: the AAAS Mentor Award and the NSF Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). Her book, “Success Strategies from Women in STEM: A Portable Mentor” is the culmination of Grant’s over 30 years of experiential leadership, coaching and mentoring.Although attendance is free and open to all faculty and staff at UNC-Chapel Hill (faculty/staff from other institutions will be wait listed) REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. To register, please click here.

    Sponsored by Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research, Office of Graduate Education.


FILM SCREENING & DISCUSSION: Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising’s Image of Women
Carroll Hall 111
Monday, March 27, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

The UNC Injury Prevention Research Center presents Dr. Jean Kilbourne’s film, Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising’s Image of Women, and invites you to think critically about popular culture and its relationship to sexism and gender-based violence. Dr. Kilbourne was named by the New York Times Magazine as one of the three most popular speakers on college campuses. Dr. Kilbourne has been researching how advertising creates and maintains distorted and destructive ideals of femininity, which exposes a pattern of damaging gender stereotypes.

Light refreshments will be provided.

Black History Month lecture examines American quest for justice

13th Annual African American History Month Lecture with keynote scholar and lecturer, Brenda Stevenson. Wednesday February 8, 2017

Seeking justice has been at the core of the American experience from the very beginning.

It led to freedom from English tyranny in 1776, and today it leads the charge for racial equality.

For Brenda Stevenson, that constant challenge has become as American as apple pie.

“The powerful rally cry of ‘No justice, no peace’ isn’t so different from ‘No taxation without representation’ or ‘Give me liberty or give me death’ – popularized refrains that led a generation of patriots to the founding of this great nation,” she said.

Stevenson, the Nickoll Family Distinguished Professor of History at UCLA and a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences, discussed the violence against black women and the struggle for justice for all races in her talk “When Do Black Female Lives Matter? Contested Assaults, Murders and American Race Riots.”

Her presentation was the keynote address of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s 13th annual African-American History Month Lecture at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History.

Chancellor Carol L. Folt introduced Stevenson and shared that the two-hour lecture was a chance to learn from history and understand how it can be used to shape the future.

“There are times in history where we turn to stories and the telling of those stories to learn, to teach and to inspire,” she said. “Those are the times that we use our learning from the past to affect the changes that we want to see today. The telling and the sharing of history are vital to advancing diversity and inclusion.”

Held Feb. 8, the event was hosted by the Offices of the Chancellor and Provost; the College of Arts and Sciences and its departments of communications, music, history and African and African American diaspora studies; the Carolina Women’s Center; the Center for the Study of the American South; Diversity and Multicultural Affairs; Delta Sigma Theta; and the Stone Center.

The lecture was just one of Carolina’s many Black History Month events. Throughout February, University organizations are hosting lectures, panels and other events to celebrate the observance.

Stevenson, an author and frequent commentator on National Public Radio, is an expert on African-American history, black women and families and race relations.

She is also the recipient of the Ida B. Wells Award for Courage in Journalism and the Southern Historical Association’s John W. Blassingame Award, given for distinguished scholarship and mentorship in African-American history.

Lecturing on the case of Latasha Harlins – a 15-year-old black girl who was killed by Korean-American female storeowner Soon Ja Du in 1991 – Stevenson discussed how the lenient sentencing of Du ignited the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

“The shooting was devastating but was also profoundly different from the usual violent scenario across racial lines that typically garners public exposure,” she said. “The people involved, Soon Ja Du and Latasha Harlins, were female, not male. Du was Korean, not white. She was a mother, wife and shopkeeper. Not a policeman, deputy sheriff, security guard or homegrown terrorists with a white sheet over her head.”

When the judge sentenced Du to five years probation, 400 hours of community service and paying for funeral expenses, the community took to the streets to protest the injustice.

The media’s attention to the case, Stevenson said, further exposed the vulnerability of the most defenseless group in the United States – the women and children of racially, culturally and politically marginalized communities.

But that vulnerability had been a trend for decades prior, with injustices toward black women and children sparking tensions. It’s a vicious cycle, Stevenson said, that falls on all of society to break.

“It’s something that we have to continue to voice, continue to write about, continue to march and protest about and sing about and write poems about,” she said. “These are things that we really have to do. It’s everyone’s responsibility. It’s not just black women’s responsibilities. It’s not just black people’s responsibilities. It’s everybody’s responsibility to do that — everyone who lives on Earth to do that.”

Story by Brandon Bieltz and photos by Jon Gardiner, University Communications
Published February 10, 2017

“Sacred/Secular: A Sufi Journey” Explores Muslim Culture

In elegant Memorial Hall, we are only moments away from the highly anticipated performance. As the chatter of the audience fades into silence, the curtains rise, giving way to five individuals illuminated by a single stage light. For the next hour, the auditorium is filled with stories centered on coming-of-age experiences for Muslims in America, pre- and post-9/11. These shared tales succeed in moving the audience to laughter, tears, and speechlessness.

This performance is just one of many in the series Sacred/Secular: A Sufi Journey. Organized by Carolina Performing Arts, the series is dedicated to exploring Muslim culture and identity as well as generating important dialogue regarding Islamophobia. As part of the new Carolina Performing Arts Student Ambassador program, students attend multiple performances and lectures within the series. [Disclosure: author is a student ambassador] Discussions amongst the ambassadors concerning the significance of the performance to Muslim culture and identity follow each program.

The series is the product of Charlotte native and UNC alumna, Aisha Anwar. Graduating in early 2016 with a degree in English, she now works as Engagement Coordinator of Special Projects. Like many Carolina students, Anwar was drawn to UNC because of the “deep sense of community” she experienced while being on campus.

“I helped start Student Ambassadors because, as a student, I wanted people to attend plays and performances as well as [have] someone to talk to afterwards about what I’d just seen,” she says. The program is about “highlighting the plurality of Muslim experiences and identities [in which] students can bond over the performances they attend together [and] come to value the various roles art may play in exploring the human condition.”

Additional performances include Topeng Losari, a dance starring Indonesian performer, Nani. Topeng Losari is a mask dance originating in indigenous Javanese culture and featuring elements of mysticism and magic. Dancers sometimes perform with their eyes closed as a way to pray to God, the Earth, and the body. On February 16th, Playmakers will host a staged reading of The Who and the What, a play which demonstrates Muslim characters struggling to remain true to their cultural and religious heritage while also dealing with the reality of a dynamic cultural landscape that brings demands of modernization and assimilation.

Anwar hopes that, as the student ambassadors delve deeper into analysis of each performance, they go beyond simply enjoying theatre and actually learn something of value. “Performing arts can foster empathy and compassionate dialogue around difficult subjects,” she notes. “I hope these performances will “guide the student ambassadors to not only be more aware but to feel empowered to speak up and be involved.”

However, she wants the influence of the performances and the program to reach beyond the student ambassadors. Anwar suggests that people “engage with literature, art, and films that center the voices of Muslim or other marginalized individuals” in order to become informed on important issues surrounding discrimination of Muslims and other marginalized groups. ”Share the experience with someone and reflect,” she says, “but don’t stop there. Continue the conversation and community building by finding local groups that are dedicated to organizing against racism.”

In providing creative performances, Aisha hopes to use the arts to build bridges between communities.  “We, as human beings, can be advocates for one another,” she says.  Sometimes unity begins in the darkness of a theater.

By Brittany Grant




Soledad O’Brien Discusses Service at MLK Lecture

Soledad O’Brien delivers the Keynote at the MLK Celebration Lecture and Awards Ceremony at Memorial Hall on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. January 17, 2017. (Photo by Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a regular man who decided he would do great things, Soledad O’Brien said Tuesday (Jan. 17) at the 36th annual MLK Celebration Keynote Lecture and Award Ceremony.

“That means for the rest of us that we have that same opportunity,’’ said O’Brien, an award-winning journalist, documentarian, news anchor and producer. “Because if it’s magic then it’s out of our hands — but if actually he’s a regular person who made the decision that he would do great things, then I think that is an opportunity for all of us.”

O’Brien gave the keynote address in Memorial Hall at UNC-Chapel Hill to a packed crowd that included Chancellor Carol L. Folt and other University leaders, plus students, faculty and staff.

The event, co-hosted by The Carolina Union Activities Board and Diversity and Multicultural Affairs with support from other organizations, was part of Carolina’s week-long observance of King, which included the MLK “The Time is Now” 5K on Monday as part of the 14th annual MLK Day of Service and other events throughout the week.

During Tuesday’s ceremony, awards and recognitions were presented to faculty, staff, students and members of the community — individuals who already have taken advantage of their opportunities to stimulate change.

MLK Scholarship finalists Trinity Johnson, Rubi Quiroz and Andre Ciccotti react as Quiroz is named the winner of the scholarship.

Carolina students Rubi Franco Quiroz, Andre Bicalho Ceccotti and Trinity Johnson received MLK Scholarships, given annually to juniors who best exemplify King’s commitment to society.

Benjamin Frey, assistant professor of American studies, and Franklin Seymore, zone manager of Carolina’s housekeeping services, won Unsung Hero Awards, presented to faculty, staff or community members who embody King’s legacy and spirit.

Also recognized was Roland Hedgepeth, father of Faith Hedgepeth, a Carolina student who was killed in 2012. She served as inspiration for this year’s theme, Keeping the Faith: A Call to Press On.

In 2013, O’Brien launched Starfish Media Group, a multi-platform media production and distribution company dedicated to uncovering and producing stories that challenge the issues of race, class, wealth, poverty and opportunity through personal narratives. She originated the documentary series, In America, which included Black in America and Latino in America and is still produced by her production company.

She showed clips of some of her documentaries during the lecture, which focused on the opportunity each and every individual has to spark social change.

“Every step forward toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle,” she said.

O’Brien said her role in sparking social change is to continue to tell other people’s compelling stories, elevating their narratives. Telling — and most importantly listening to — people’s stories, she said, is the best solution we have to move forward as a society.

“What will be my service?” she asked. “To tell the stories of all Americans — whether they look like me or not, whether they agree with me or not — and seek to understand them and accurately reflect their stories.”

People can choose to fight for social justice, O’Brien said, by fighting against their own biases. They can look for more people and listen to their stories. They can try to understand. The choice, however, belongs to each individual. O’Brien ended her lecture challenging the audience.

“What are you going to do?”

Story by Will Rimer and photos by Jon Gardiner, Office of University Communications
Published January 18, 2017