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


‘Keeping the Faith’ on MLK Day

More than 140 runners on Monday (January 16) took part in the MLK “The Time is Now” 5K at UNC-Chapel Hill – part of Carolina’s 14th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

Chancellor Carol L. Folt and other University leaders attended and spoke at the third annual event. The theme was “Keeping the Faith,” and it raised funds for the Faith Danielle Hedgepeth Award created by the American Indian Center in collaboration with Alpha Pi Omega Sorority Inc., Phi Sigma Nu, Fraternity, Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., and the Carolina Indian Circle.

Those in attendance signed a large banner honoring Hedgepeth, a Carolina student who was killed in 2012.

The Day of Service also included a rally, march and worship service sponsored by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro and UNC-Chapel Hill chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Award-winning journalist and executive producer Soledad O’Brien will headline Carolina’s week-long observance of Martin Luther King Jr.; she will serve as the as the keynote speaker of the MLK Celebration Keynote Lecture and Award Ceremony on Jan. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Hall.

For information on these and more MLK events, click here.

Published and updated January 16, 2017

Unsung Hero Awards and MLK Scholarships to be Presented at MLK Lecture

The 2017 MLK Celebration Keynote Lecture and Awards Ceremony, featuring journalist Soledad O’Brien as speaker, will take place on Tuesday, January 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Hall.  During the event, presentations will be made to winners of Unsung Hero Awards and the MLK Scholarship recipients. MLK Scholarships are awarded to a college junior; the MLK Unsung Hero Awards are presented to a UNC staff/faculty or department or a community/corporate entity.

2017 MLK Scholarship Finalists

Andre Bicalho Ceccotti

Andre is a junior from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, studying Economics.

Ceccotti is co-chair and case manager of the Community Empowerment Fund, in which he co-founded a free legal clinic in partnership with NC Legal Aid. The clinic provides services to find permanent housing and employment, receive government benefits, and access healthcare for
individuals who are homeless and unemployed in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. He is a student justice at UNC’s Supreme Court; counsel and managing associate at UNC’s Honor System; and, a director in the Morehead-Cain Scholarship Fund Board.

Ceccotti is interested in public interest law to apply the best strategies for the economic empowerment of racial minorities and has earned tax certification from the IRS and the Benefit Bank, which he has used to file taxes for low-income families.

He plans to attend law school and become a federal judge or attorney when he returns to Brazil.

Rubi Franco Quiroz

Rubi is a junior from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, studying Communications Studies, French and Hispanic Studies (double minor)

Quiroz serves in multiple roles for several organizations. She is the co-director for NC Sli; the finance committee of Carolina for the Kids Foundation; the recruitment committee for the Alpha Kappa Chapter of Phi Sigma Pi National Honors Fraternity; scholarship ambassador for the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid; an Honors Carolina Student; a member of the Latinx Unity Council and Carolina Hispanic Association Body; an executive board member of One State On Rate Campaign; and, a Buckley Public Service Scholar.

Her passion for service stems from a strong motivation to increase access to medical services for at-risk and marginalized communities. Quiroz plans to support individuals from these communities through intensive care treatments on a one-on-one level via a future graduate degree in Social Work.

Trinity Johnson

Trinity is a junior from Charlotte, North Carolina, studying Psychology.

Johnson serves as the Chaplain and the Save our Sisterhood Committee chairwoman to the Kappa Omicron Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., peer coach for UNC’s Bounce Back Retention Program; co-charter of Pinky Promise Women’s Ministry; member of Black Student Movement; UNC Chapter Psi Chi; National Honor Society; Minority Student Recruitment Committee; ACE Legacy Leader; and, recipient of the Harvey B. Renwick academic achievement award.

Driven by her passion for psychology and issues of childhood poverty, Johnson volunteers with at-risk youth to establish the importance of continuing education and maintaining optimal mental health to achieve success.

Johnson plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Pediatric and Counseling Psychology.

Unsung Heroes

Benjamin Frey

In his “America’s Threatened Languages” course, American Studies Professor Benjamin Frey encourages students to apply real world social situations to better understand community development. Dr. Frey also applies his mastery of linguistics in the campus-wide “Cherokee Coffee Hour,” which he initiated in 2013 to help revitalize interest in Cherokee language.

For his work, Dr. Frey has been the recipient of the Carolina Postdoctoral Fellowship for Faculty Diversity and been recognized for his commitment to service from the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.


Franklin Seymore

A Zone Manager and valued member of the UNC Housekeeping team, Mr. Seymore has worked diligently with staff to appreciate diversity, build trust and an understanding of workplace expectations. A positive influence and calming force, he has been a bridge builder who encourages connections, promotion of understanding of others, and recognition of commonalities amongst his co-workers while reminding them to consider other points of view.

Mr. Seymore is a veteran that served in the United States Air Force as a Security Police officer. He enjoys volunteer work at local rest homes, assisting senior citizens.


2017 University Diversity Awards Nominations Open

The University Diversity Awards recognize people and groups who have given their time and effort to further diversity and inclusion at Carolina and in our surrounding community.  The University Diversity Awards committee will be accepting nominations beginning Monday, January 9. The deadline for submission is on Monday, January 30.

The awards will be given in the following eight categories:

  • Faculty
  • Staff
  • Undergraduate Student
  • Graduate/Professional Student
  • Department/Unit/Faculty and Staff Group
  • Student Organization
  • Alumni
  • Community Member/Organization

Criteria for the awards:

  • Advocated for diversity, equity, and inclusion of underrepresented groups and/or social justice
  • Demonstrated a sustained commitment to the advancement of cultural diversity and inclusion at UNC and/or in the community
  • Demonstrated respect or inclusive treatment when interacting with others
  • Implemented or sponsored an event which cultivates diversity and inclusion

Nominations can be submitted electronically at UNC 2017 Diversity Awards Nomination

Further details about the award and the nomination process are available at For further information, please contact Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at

Soledad O’Brien to deliver UNC’s MLK 2017 Celebration Lecture

Journalist and producer Soledad O’Brien and state Senator Valerie Foushee will be featured speakers during UNC-Chapel Hill’s 2017 MLK Celebration Week, beginning on January 15. This year’s theme is “Keeping the Faith: A Call to Press On” and will include events dedicated to the intersectionality of diversity, inclusion, and social justice. 

UNC-Chapel Hill has a long history of honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Since 1983, Carolina’s celebrations of his legacy have been part of a campus-wide initiative that extends well beyond the boundaries of Franklin Street and into the Chapel Hill/Carrboro community. The University proudly honors Dr. King’s bridge-building efforts through several long-standing traditions: The University/Community Annual MLK Banquet, the MLK Day of Service 5K and the MLK Lecture and Awards Ceremony. In addition, numerous performances, discussions, and screenings addressing intersectionality and encouraging social justice and activism are scheduled to take place Jan. 15 through 20 – the week of what would have been Dr. King’s 88th birthday.

“It is such an honor to have North Carolina Senator Valerie Foushee and esteemed journalist Soledad O’Brien speaking at our MLK events,” said Dr. G. Rumay Alexander, Interim Chief Diversity Officer for UNC’s Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and Special Assistant to the Chancellor. “Their contribution to Dr. King’s legacy of service and advocacy resonates especially now.”

The 32nd annual University/Community Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet and Award Presentation

Kicking off the week’s events is the Annual University/Community Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet and Award Presentation, hosted by the MLK Planning Corporation, in partnership with UNC’s Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, held at the William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education on Sunday, Jan. 15. The event begins with a 5 p.m. reception, followed by dinner at 6 p.m., and features musical selections, a spiritual litany, and the Citizenship Awards, which recognize those in the community who have demonstrated “enduring service to humanity by word and by deed.”

It is a special honor to have UNC alumna Valerie Foushee delivering the Memorial address. The state Senator received her BA in Political Science and African and Afro-American Studies in 1978 and went on to serve 21 years in the Chapel Hill Police Department. Foushee has been heavily involved in local education – elected to the Board of Education for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools in 1997 and re-elected in 2001, during which time she also served as Chair. In 2004, she became the first African American female on the Orange County Board of Commissioners, to which she was re-elected in 2008 and served as Chair from 2008-2010. Foushee was elected to the NC House in 2012, representing rural Orange and Durham counties.

Tickets are $30. To purchase, please contact Diversity Celebrations Co-Coordinator Cameron Congleton at

The MLK The Time is Now 5K Day of Service

On the following morning (Monday, Jan. 16), runners will be lacing up their sneakers and gathering at the Campus Y before sunrise for a light breakfast prior to participating in the MLK The Time is Now 5K. Runners will wind their way around the campus and neighboring streets before passing through the victory balloon arch. For those participants seeking a less challenging route, a one-mile fun walk will also take place.  Prizes will be awarded to runners in many categories.

The Day of Service event is sponsored by student organization ROCTS (Rejuvenating Our Community Through Service), co-sponsored by Fleet Feet Sports, Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, and the Department of Housing & Residential Education, and generously supported by the Parents Council Grant Program.

This year, the fundraiser will benefit the Faith Danielle Hedgepeth Award, named in memory of the beloved UNC student who had dedicated herself to service. The award, given by UNC-Chapel Hill’s American Indian Center and the Carolina Indian Circle, supports a sophomore student with books, supplies and basic living expenses while pursuing a career in a helping or health profession and serving American Indian populations.

Registration is $25 and includes breakfast, a t-shirt and an armband (discounts for groups). To register, please visit

The MLK Celebration Lecture and Awards Ceremony

On Tuesday night (Jan. 17) at 7:30 p.m., renowned journalist, documentarian, news anchor and producer Soledad O’Brien will deliver the Keynote at the MLK Celebration Lecture and Awards Ceremony. O’Brien launched Starfish Media Group (SMG) in 2013, dedicated to uncovering and producing empowering stories that take a challenging look at the often divisive issues of race, class, wealth, poverty and opportunity, through personal stories. The highly successful documentary series Black in America and Latino in America are among the many products of SMG. In addition, O’Brien and her husband, Brad, created the PowHERful Foundation to help disadvantaged young women with college access and success. This year, 25 women will receive scholarships.

In addition to O’Brien’s Keynote delivery, two special presentations will be made: the MLK Scholarship, which is awarded to a college junior; and the MLK Unsung Hero Awards, which are awarded to a UNC staff/faculty, department, or a community/corporate entity.

Tickets are free, but required. They are available online and at the Carolina Performing Arts box office.

The Keynote Lecture is co-hosted by Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and the Carolina Union Activities Board, in partnership with Workforce Strategy, Equity and Engagement, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, Parents Council Grant, Association of Student Governments, Interfraternity Council, National Panhellenic Council, Department of Housing and Residential Education, Student Congress, Residence Hall Association, Eshelman School of Pharmacy, School of Dentistry, Carolina Association of Black Journalists, Carolina Center for Public Service, School of Education, Department of Athletics, World View, American Studies, School of Information and Library Science, and Department of Dramatic Art.

The 2017 MLK Celebration Committee is grateful for the support of Carolina Performing Arts, the American Indian Center, Stone Center for Black History and Culture, and the various student organizations represented in the committee in designing and offering the week of events.

For more information about these highlighted events or to learn more about additional campus and community MLK Week events, please visit

by Adrianne Gibilisco


Pipeline Programs for Prospective Students

Students and Faculty alike gain an increased sense of their potential during the Summer Institutes programs.

From late May through July, the Carolina campus is relatively quiet: students have either graduated or are on vacation or summer internships; and, many of the faculty are on summer break or doing research. Yet, there is a delightful energy that descends upon the grounds as rising high school juniors and seniors get their first taste of a college experience. Their excitement is palpable and stands as a reminder that future Tar Heels are still wide-eyed high school students for whom education may have seemed unattainable before they set foot on Carolina soil.


North Carolina Renaissance (NCR), a four-day enrichment program that Diversity and Multicultural Affairs co-hosts with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions in mid-May, builds on the educational aspirations of young scholars from the state’s rural communities. From the moment they awake in their residence halls until lights out around midnight, a rigorous schedule awaits the youths: educational resources sessions, ACT/SAT test prep, mock classrooms, panels and discussion on branding, scholarship and student aid, and more, are balanced with fun group activities like game night, a talent show and a banquet.

With a curriculum that focuses primarily on leadership development and community involvement, the 35-40 students who participate in this experience are often inspired to return for a secondary experience when they become rising seniors: Project Uplift.

Aimed at enhancing the diversity of Carolina’s undergraduate population, Project Uplift (PU) targets a broader swath of students. High-achieving rising seniors from historically underserved populations are invited to spend two days on campus. Their experience includes an academic lecture, college fair, student life session, wellness session, college excellence workshop, scholarship and student aid session, talent show, cultural program and more. PU is an incredibly successful program, and one with a long and meaningful history.

Students take part in SAT prep and other academic classes.

“Project Uplift began in 1969 with a group of students who demanded that the University increase the recruitment of underrepresented students at UNC,” explains Ada Wilson, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs’ director of Student Excellence.  “As a result of the original 23 demands submitted by the Black Student Movement, an office focused primarily on minority affairs was established. PU [has since] evolved into the premier university recruitment tool for African American, Latinx, American Indian, multicultural and diverse students from across the nation and the world.”

Furthermore, the student-created, student-led initiative represents the core values of our institution. “PU reflects the legacy and tradition of student advocacy and leadership at Carolina that extends beyond the 1,200 prospective students who visit the campus annually and touches the 70-plus staff members who are able to build community at UNC by giving back,” Wilson says, proudly.

What is truly special is observing the metamorphosis from curious high school students to inspired scholars on a path to higher education matriculation. “The best part of each program, for me, is watching students have their individual “ah-ha” moments. From finding a potential career path to learning about a new culture, watching students come into their own in such a short period of time is inspiring,” says Wilson. “It is even more uplifting when they end up at Carolina pursuing the dreams they set for themselves while attending Project Uplift or NCR.”


Recognizing a need for more high impact programming, Uplift PLUS was created in 2014. Uplift Plus is a five-week program for Project Uplift participants who submit outstanding applications. Held during Carolina’s Summer Session II, the cohort of 15-20 attend SAT/ACT coaching sessions and take English 100 – a 3 credit hour course. This enhanced program assigns leadership roles to current students, who serve as daily program advisors, tutors and program facilitators.

Uplift PLUS (UP) participant Alton Peques (’19) recalls of his experience, “The most important part of Uplift PLUS was the character development implemented through discussion and relationships…This open community allowed for people to love who they are and appreciate the qualities others possess as well. Through this environment, participants were able to develop into not only better students, but better people.”

Tates (second from right) is a testament to the success of the Summer Institute programs.

Rachel Tates, DMA’s recruitment programs specialist is a testament to their success. “As a former staff member of Project Uplift, I can speak first hand to the lasting relationships and home that it built for me at UNC, as well as the fulfillment I received when seeing students that attended the program end up at UNC and become staff members themselves,” she says.

The programs’ positive outcomes extends to staff and faculty as well. “While there is much professional oversight,” notes Tates, “our summer programs are truly student-led and I think that is what makes them special. Our summer institutes are an enriching and eye opening experience for the participants, but I think they have just as much an impact on the current students who serve as volunteers and staff members.”

Wilson sees these three Summer Institute programs as opportunities with long-term positive results that awaken the realization of potential inherent in a college education. “The students learn more about themselves and others through this experience and are inspired to achieve at the highest levels,” she says. “Throughout the program, we reinforce their capacity to succeed and [remind them that] success is not the same for everyone. By offering tangible resources and academic tools, we hope that students walk away with a greater understanding of how they can leverage higher education to have major impacts on their communities, and the world.”


Applications for participants and staff are now open. There is a separate application for NC Renaissance and Project Uplift for prospective participants and students will have the opportunity to indicate their desire to be considered for Uplift Plus in their application to Project Uplift. Both applications will close on January 1st and students will be notified of a decision by mid-march.

The application for NC Renaissance is available here.

The application for Project Uplift is available here.

There is one staff application, and candidates may be considered for all three summer programs. The application period for current UNC students who would like to serve on staff will close on December 8th. The application can be accessed here and students must turn in a typed and printed copy to Student Academic Services Building North, Suite 1125 by 5pm on December 8th.

— by Adrianne Gibilisco

Related links:




Carolina Honors Veterans


From the beginning of their military careers, service members are taught and trained to be strong leaders, not just on the battlefield, but in everything they do.

Even when they put away their uniform and leave the military, leadership remains at the core of every veteran — making an impact wherever they go.

“We are thrilled they are among us every day getting to continue to set their example of leadership at Carolina,” said Felicia Washington, vice chancellor for workforce strategy, equity and engagement. “Our veterans are indeed an important part of our community.”

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill celebrated those leaders — its veterans and active-duty service members — Nov. 10 during the Tar Heel Tribute and Nov. 11 with the annual Veterans Day Memorial Ceremony at the Carolina Alumni Memorial in Memory of Those Lost in Military Service.

“This is a chance for us to say thank you to every one of our veterans and active duty military,” Chancellor Carol L. Folt said. “You honor us by being here today. We can never say thank you fully for what you give in service of your country.”

Carolina’s celebration began with the Tar Heel Tribute at the George Watts Hill Alumni Center. The third annual event was sponsored by Office of the Dean of Students and the Division of Workforce Strategy, Equity, and Engagement, including Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office, and the Office of Human Resources.

“This is just one small way that we salute you,” Washington said.

Imogene M. Jamison, former lieutenant colonel for the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps and current associate general counsel with the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity, gave the keynote speech, talking about the leadership skills veterans possess.

“Without question, veterans set the standards for leadership both on our college campuses and in the workforce,” she said. “Veterans, decisive, brave, selfless problem solvers, are exceptional leaders and serve as personal examples for all.”

The Tar Heel Tribute also gave veterans and service members the chance to learn more about Carolina services and resources aimed at helping them succeed.

A few examples include the Veterans Resource Team, which serves students and employees who are active duty military or veterans, and Green Zone Training, which educates faculty and staff about issues facing veterans. The University also provides distance-learning programs designed for service members through the Friday Center called UNC CORE and courses from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.

 “We look for more ways to be a very positive and successful university where active duty military and veterans will seek and want to come,” Folt said.

Hosted by UNC-Chapel Hill’s ROTC, the Veterans Day Memorial ceremony held the following day thanked veterans for their service to the country.

“We [serve] for the love of our country, we do it for our families and we do it for the service member next to us,” said Maj. Shane Doolan, a professor of military science. “We look for no favor and we ask for no reward. But on days like this, that one time we get recognized, we truly, truly appreciate it from our the bottom of our hearts.”

Faculty Chair Bruce Cairns, who served in the Navy for 19 years before becoming the director of the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Health Care, was the ceremony’s featured speaker.

Reflecting on his own time in the military, which included serving as the general surgeon at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Guam, Cairns discussed the service military members provide every day in the face of challenging situations.

“People from all over the country, with different backgrounds, training, goals and aspirations came together for a common cause: the belief in a commitment to serve our country,” he said.

It is a similar commitment, Cairns said, that Americans owe to veterans and service members today for the sacrifices they’ve made.

“No matter what your station is in life, whether you’ve served or not, that your nation, your fellow citizens, your veterans need your support,” he said. “Do what you can do. No complaining. No whining. It’s just what we need to do.”

Story by Brandon Bieltz, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Video by Rob Holliday, Office of Communications and Public Affairs          

Published November 10, 2016.
Updated November 11, 2016.


A college preview

As she guided her students through the Pit, Aycock Middle School counselor Dena Keeling saw her students’ faces light up with excitement as they walked on a college campus for the first time.

“If it wasn’t for this, they may not get to see the college campus,” she said. “It gives them the opportunity to see a college campus, know that they can go to college — that it is an option for them.”

Keeling’s group of students were among the nearly 300 North Carolina middle schoolers getting their first look at college life during Tar Heel Preview Day on Oct. 28. Hosted by the Carolina Millennial Scholars, the program features academic sessions with faculty members and panels with current students.

In its third year, Tar Heel Preview Day showcases the college experience to middle school boys from underrepresented backgrounds.

“The goal is to introduce the students to the idea of college as a reality for them,” said Rachel Tates, recruitment program specialist with Diversity and Multicultural Affairs. “We want them to experience what it’s like and also give them the proper tools to navigate their way from middle school to college.”

The students spent a majority of their Carolina experience in the classroom learning about world cultures, economics, psychology and science, seeing firsthand what college courses can offer. “They’re exposed to many different types of academic experiences and they’re able to talk to their peers about what they learned during the sessions,” said Ada Wilson, director of inclusive student excellence at DMA.

But Tar Heel Preview Day was more than academic sessions and a stroll through campus. Students also had the chance to mingle with Carolina students. And for some of the middle schoolers, it was the first time they had met a college student. “I want the students to actively see current college students working and succeeding,” Wilson said. “As middle school students, they’re seeing students from the very moment they walk in, from registration to welcoming the sessions to the panels, they’re seeing themselves through the current Carolina students.”

By showcasing the college experience to students at such a young age, Tates said, the middle schoolers have the time to put themselves on a track that could lead them to college.

“We’re trying to give students the tools so they can be as prepared as possible to make whatever decisions they want to make in their lives and so they’ll be set to go to college if they want to go,” Tates said.

Keeling has seen firsthand how a trip to Carolina can redirect students’ paths.

“I always have students walking away from here feeling like ‘I’m going to college,’” Keeling said. “I see their behavior change when they get back to school because they make that connection of ‘What I’m doing here affects me in the future.’”

By Brandon Bieltz, Office of Communications and Public Affairs
Published October 28, 2016