Ecuadoran Exchange Delegation Visits UNC

EcuadorVisitRepresentatives from the government of Ecuador’s higher education system, Educación Superior, Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación, met with staff from Diversity and Multicultural Affairs (DMA) on June 30 as part of a professional exchange program with the U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program. The Ecuadoran exchange delegation was visiting institutions of higher education to better understand regulatory and management systems in the United States. A new higher education law, passed in 2010, outlines specific provisions in the Ecuadoran higher education system and the delegation was seeking input on regulation, accreditation, diversity, administration, and university management.

Participants in the delegation represented the Secretariat of Higher Education, the Ministry of Knowledge and Human Talent, and the Council of Evaluation, Accreditation, and Quality Assurance of Ecuador.

“Having the opportunity to interact with and engage the Ecuadorian delegation provided a rich discussion for sharing our practice and learning more about other forms of higher education,” said Dr. Marco Barker, DMA senior director for education, operations and initiatives. “It was informative and intriguing to hear how South American higher education policy makers wrestled with the same issues and concerns related to diversity, equity, access, and success among their varying demographics.”

During the conversation, members of the delegation expressed a strong interest in student recruitment, preparation, and success programs and UNC’s relationship with K-12 education—an indicator of their desire to make higher education in Ecuador and South America more attainable for students who may be underserved or from under-resourced communities.

Josmell Pérez, DMA’s assistant director for multicultural programs and the Carolina Latina/o Collaborative, also spoke with the delegation. “They were interested in all aspects of our higher education system,” he said “from policy and curriculum to student retention and graduation.” He noted that they were impressed by how intentional DMA programs were in providing students with a sense of community and are supported by people who have a vested interest in their success.

This visit marked the third delegation of international visitors for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs. Previously, DMA has met with two different groups of Interfaith leaders from Germany who were interested in diversity and social justice education.

The Ecuador visit was coordinated by UNC Global’s international affairs liaison Melissa McMurray.

About Diversity and Multicultural Affairs

Diversity and Multicultural Affairs is a unit in the Division of Workforce Strategy, Equity, and Engagement and serves as the diversity arm of the University. DMA is led by Associate Vice Chancellor & Chief Diversity Officer Taffye Benson Clayton and has the responsibility of providing university-wide leadership in building and sustaining an inclusive campus community that values and respects all members of the university community and beyond.

For more information about diversity at Carolina, please visit or email

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First Person: UNC Junior Volunteers at a Detention Center in San Antonio


Global Studies major Cecilia Polanco reports on her visit to the detention center where young immigrants fleeing their war-torn villages in Central America are being held in San Antonio.

This summer I’ve been blessed to have done some travelling and independent research around the U.S. Last week I was in San Antonio, Texas, and since I’d been following news and articles about the children coming from Central America and being held in detention centers, I decided I was going to find a way to help.

Through some connections, I contacted someone who organized volunteers. I wanted to come in and help in some way. In my mind, I was prepared to do whatever kind of work was needed. I pictured cleaning, washing, or even cooking as possibilities. But what I imagined in my mind, much of which was and is influenced by what I read and see in the media, differed from the actual situation, which is the case many times.

I arrived at the detention center Friday morning, on my last day in San Antonio. The night before, my mind kept me awake with thoughts and images of over crowded warehouses, dirty and crying children, and me: not fully knowing what was going on and totally in over my head. But what I came to find was different.

I had to leave my phone in the car, so I have no pictures of myself, or the children I interacted with. Safety is the number one priority of the staff at this center, and I respected any request made. I signed in, put on my volunteer badge, and was escorted to an area with a small soccer field, and picnic tables under a shelter, like you’d see at a lake-side retreat.

I sat down at one of the tables and laid out all my supplies. My first client was a little girl with four front teeth missing and the cutest smile. So I asked her, “Que quieres que te pinte?” / “What do you want me to paint for you?”

Face painting is not one of my best skills. Actually, I’d say I’m pretty bad at it. But I was prepared to paint my best flowers and butterflies for these girls. They were very special to me. I spoke in Spanish the entire time. It was funny: before I arrived, one of the staff said, “These girls speak Spanish, but they speak a different Spanish. They use weird words that we don’t usually use. Ones from Central American countries like Honduras and El Salvador.” I thought about the way I speak Spanish, being that I’m from El Salvador, and of some of my experiences volunteering in Nicaragua in the past. I wasn’t worried.

The little girls came to my chair, and for a few minutes, my attention was all theirs. I used my brushes and colors, and my favorite black eye liner to make them beautiful. I wasn’t impressed with anything I painted, but when I showed them the result in my compact mirror they would beam at themselves. The giggles and missing teeth affirmed that I’d done a good job.

I didn’t say much that day. I was focused, yet distracted when I looked up from the faces and remembered where I was. I made sure to ask every little girl her name, her age, and where she was from. The youngest was 5. I heard El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala; places that are not strange to me. The oldest girls I met were in their teens. One girl was 11, and I thought of my niece, Lesly. I know that she’s safe, at home with my sister, probably watching Netflix or taking selfies. I love her, and I can’t imagine having to tell her to leave, that she has to go because it’s not safe here, and that she has to do it by herself.

There was a lot to take in that day, but I came closest to tears when listening to the staff talk about a recent arrival, one of the smallest girls there, that hadn’t been sleeping well. She’d only gotten about two hours of sleep the night before, between suddenly waking up and calling out for her grandmother, and nodding off on the couch whimpering. They hadn’t been able to put her in contact with her mother or grandmother, both of whom I’m sure would have soothed her worries if they could just talk to each other. The struggle to protect the bond between people and the love between families is what ends up in separated families and deaths on the border. Sacrifices are made to keep people safe and alive.

Some of the older girls asked for “tattoos” on their forearms. So I drew my best eyeliner hearts and filled them in with red lipstick. They asked for names of their loved ones inside the hearts and along the stems of roses. My heart beat harder in my chest as I thought about the names the girls requested. Mothers, Fathers, sisters and brothers, sometimes even a young love left behind. I know that love and the memories of their loved ones are what keep them going.

I’m not entirely sure what’s going on at the border. I don’t fully understand the politics behind it. But I do know that if someone shows up at my door, especially a child, they will be welcomed, fed, bathed, clothed, and taken care of. The conditions of the center where I was were great, but I know that’s the case in towns closer to the border.

Volunteering is the least I could do. I spread the word on social media, and advocate for a more understanding world and a more just political system. There’s plenty more to be done.

Cecilia Polanco

July, 2014


Library Diversity Committee Hosts Third Film

The Library Diversity Committee will show and discuss the third of three films focusing on a theme of Native American culture. “Fry Bread Babes,” directed by Steffany Suttle (Lummi) is a powerful and intimate new film that explores Native women, body image and identity. Six Native American women discuss issues of body image and identity, candidly and with humor. Elaine Miles (Cayuse-Nez Perce), best know for her role as Marilyn Whirlwind on the television series “Northern Exposure,” is one of the six women interviewed in the film.

DMA Staff Member Wins Employee Forum Award

Service with a Smile

One of the first things you notice about Mrs. Margie Scott is her smile. As the first person that students meet when they come into the Inclusive Student Excellence office in the Diversity and Multicultural Affairs suite in SASB North, Scott’s warm welcome and enthusiastic greeting is contagious. She is often the first point of contact for students and parents who call looking for information about the recruitment and visitation programs offered by UNC Diversity and Multicultural Affairs (DMA). Mrs. Scott’s patience and empathy have garnered her mounds of thank-you notes from families, prospective students, and current students.

Students who work with Margie will tell you that she is their cheerleader, their advocate, and their role model. Her ability to embody the vision and mission of Carolina: to make our campus welcoming and inclusive have earned Mrs. Scott a peer recognition award for customer service. The award, presented by the UNC Employee Forum on May 29, 2014 recognizes someone who serves the University on the front lines. DMA has over 2,000 high school students who apply to be part of our pipeline programs and many of them have questions or have family members who want to be reassured that their children’s needs are being met.

In her nomination letter co-workers cited her warmth and graciousness. “She is always such a positive person to work with and she has such encouraging words to share with students,” said one nominator. Her nomination went on to cite her empathy and a deep belief in equity and inclusion.

Margie Scott at the Employee Forum Awards with daughter, grandson and husband

Margie Scott at the Employee Forum Awards with daughter, grandson and husband

“Being chosen,” said Mrs. Scott, “confirms for me that the service I give every day has a positive impact on the students, the parents, Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, and the University, and more than that—my work is appreciated. I’m always surprised and elated when I win something, and being the recipient of the Employee Forum Customer Service Award is no exception.”

Grateful parents write notes about her caring spirit and the time she takes to listen to their needs, current students come to her frequently for encouragement and a hug, and students who have graduated come back to thank her for all she did to help them through their time at Carolina.

“As a colleague, she has been inspirational in her commitment to inclusive excellence in the work that we do and the way that we communicate with our campus and community members,” says Sharbari Dey, education programs coordinator for DMA and Scott’s nominator. “Working with Margie is a delightful opportunity and I am sure the many students and families whom she has touched agree with me.”

A native of Mrytle Beach, Sc., Scott has over 10 years of service at UNC-Chapel Hill and currently serves as administrative program specialist. She is active in her local community and church in Durham.  A breast cancer survivor, Scott also volunteers her time to support persons affected by cancer and participates in the annual Triangle Komen Race for the Cure.

About the Employee Forum

The Employee Forum consists of SPA and EPA Non-Faculty Employees elected by their peers and seeks to continually improve the quality of life at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for its Students, Faculty, and Employees through mutual understanding, recognition of Employee contributions, and respect for the worth of the individual.

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Summer Programs for Diverse Students

NCR GroupThe Carolina campus is buzzing with activity this summer as Diversity and Multicultural Affairs (DMA) holds two summer programs for high school students—North Carolina Renaissance and Project Uplift. These two unique programs are designed to give underrepresented minority, rural, and low-income students a residential immersion at the University. Participants explore all that the college experience entails including life in a residence hall, classroom lectures, and academic and cultural events put on by current Carolina students.

Rising juniors from rural communities just completed North Carolina Renaissance (NCR), an educational four-day enrichment program that took place from May 13-16. The objective of NCR was to inspire high-achieving scholars to pursue their educational aspirations while developing leadership skills. Students participated in specially designed sessions including leadership and team building, college admissions, financial aid, and a community service opportunity.

Carolina NCR counselors also benefit from the NCR experience. In helping younger students, counselors expand their leadership skills and give back to the communities from which they came. “You can see tangible outcomes,” says Frank Tillman III, a 2013 and 2014 NCR counselor. “You can follow these students’ success and progress as they come through the program.” According to other counselors, the program makes students want to challenge themselves academically which allows them to see the participants grow and learn.

Project Uplift for Rising High School Seniors

Project Uplift’s first week out of four begins Thursday, May 22 and goes through the morning of Saturday, May 24. Also known as PU, Project Uplift will host approximately 1200 rising high school seniors this year as it celebrates the 45th anniversary of the program.

Hosted in conjunction with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, PU aims to enhance the diversity of Carolina’s undergraduate population. High achieving African American, Native American, Latino/Hispanic, Asian American, low income, rural and other rising seniors from historically underserved populations are recommended by their guidance counselors to apply for the program.  Accepted students are invited to experience the academic rigor and social climate of UNC. This early recruitment program provides prospective students with insight into college life and an opportunity to live and lead, and learn about the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a first-hand basis. Participants attend classes, dine in Lenoir Hall, live in UNC residential communities and interact with current Carolina student counselors who coordinate cultural activities, lead group discussions, and conduct team-building exercises. The PU student staff is a close-knit cohort, many of whom have served as counselors for all four years of their Carolina tenure. Project Uplift and North Carolina Renaissance are both hosted by DMA’s Minority Student Recruitment Committee (MSRC).

Other summer programs being held on campus include Summer Bridge, a program hosted by the Center for Student Success and Academic Counseling that targets incoming first-year NC students from small/rural high schools that may lack AP or other college preparatory courses; the Moore Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (MURAP), a graduate-level research experience for highly talented students from diverse backgrounds; the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE-REU) Program in Molecular Biosciences, which provides talented undergraduate students the opportunity to carry out independent research projects under the guidance of faculty mentors; and the Carolina Center for Educational Excellence (CCEE) youth programs that offer science summer camps for elementary and middle school students.

Project Uplift CounselorsAbout MSRC

The Minority Student Recruitment Committee partners with other student organizations such as the Black Student Movement, the Carolina Indian Circle, Carolina Hispanic Association, Student Government and various campus units and departments to coordinate and implement enriching academic, cultural, and social developmental programs to achieve our goal of an inclusive campus environment. The students of MSRC are committed to supporting current Carolina students in undertaking a rich, rewarding experience at the University.


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Carolina ADMIRES Promotes Diversity in Science

Beginning this June, the Carolina ADMIRES program (Assisting in Development and Mentoring an Innovative Research Experience in Science) will make it possible for high school students to conduct research in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields under the guidance of a Carolina faculty mentor. Amy Oldenburg, an assistant professor in UNC-Chapel Hill’s department of

Physics and Astronomy, has teamed up with Diversity and Multicultural Affairs to offer this exciting opportunity that is designed to encourage students to pursue STEM majors.

Dr. Amy Oldenburg

Dr. Amy Oldenburg- Assistant Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy

ADMIRES was developed as the outreach component of a grant Oldenburg received from the National Science Foundation (NSF).  She came to the task of writing her proposal with a specific model in mind, and reached out to DMA to make it a reality.  Through NSF funding, her goal was to work with DMA to create an experience similar to Research Rocks—a former DMA initiative that provided high school students with research experiences and a faculty mentor. Oldenburg became involved with Research Rocks during her first years at UNC.

Although DMA was unable to continue the program, Oldenburg was inspired by the connections she made through Research Rocks and was committed to finding new opportunities to connect with young students interested in STEM. She developed the grant proposal and worked with DMA to ensure that diversity was a central component of the program.

“I wanted to see this type of program revived here at UNC, which offers an ideal environment for focused outreach,” she says.  “The STEM disciplines suffer from a lack of many of the best students who happen to come from diverse backgrounds, with women, minorities, and economically disadvantaged students greatly underrepresented in these disciplines.  I wanted to address this gap at a crucial phase in the development in a student’s life.”

Carolina ADMIRES will target high school girls and students from other groups underrepresented in STEM, such as American Indian, Latina/o, and African American students.  A cohort of twenty-five students will have monthly on-campus meetings with their assigned faculty mentors, spending the fall semester focusing on professional development and embarking on their own research in the spring.

“The ADMIRES grant proposal was a perfect example of how DMA can work with grant writers and principal investigators to add a diversity component to their work,” said DMA Director of Inclusive Student Excellence Ada Wilson. “With forethought and cooperation, we were able to devise a pipeline program for early high school students to channel their interests in the STEM fields to a real-world research experience and possibly capture the imaginations of future talented scientists.”

Meshay Long

Meshay Long- lead student coordinator for Carolina ADMIRES

Junior psychology major Meshay Long serves as academy development coordinator in DMA’s Inclusive Student Excellence program and will serve as the Carolina ADMIRES lead student coordinator.  Meshay is a student leader on campus who has a background in diversity and inclusion and has been active with the Minority Student Recruitment Committee, the Carolina Indian Circle and Alpha Pi Omega, Carolina’s first historically Native sorority.

Oldenburg hopes that the guidance of experienced professionals and the freedom to pursue their scientific interests will awaken participants to the roles STEM fields could play in their futures.  “It’s passion that is so important for success in science, as it will carry them through all of the hard work in order to make an impact in their chosen field,” she says.  “At the same time, students will see by example that successful scientists come from all backgrounds.”

ADMIRES is now accepting applications for the coming academic year.  Transportation will be arranged for students who live at a distance from the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.

For more information regarding ADMIRES, contact Amy Oldenburg at For other information regarding diversity at UNC, contact Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at or visit

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Campus Partners Hold First Latina/o Graduation Celebration

Chancellor Folt speaks at Exitos, the 2014 Latina/o graduation celebrationÉxitos in Spanish means successes and that is what the Carolina Latina/o Collaborative (CLC) and the Latina/o Caucus at UNC-Chapel Hill celebrated on Friday, May 9, 2014. The successes of Latina/o graduates and those who have worked to support and promote the Latina/o community were acknowledged and thanks were given to family, friends, faculty, staff, and administrators who helped students achieve their goals. Each student received a CLC lapel pin to wear on their graduation gowns the following Sunday when they processed at commencement.

“We have so many people who are working to advance the Latina/o culture both on campus and in the surrounding communities,” said Josmell Pérez, multicultural programs assistant director for UNC Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and coordinator for the CLC.” It is important that we recognize the graduates for their achievements. Many of them serve as role models to other Latina/o and non-Latina/o students and demonstrate how resilience and hard work can result in achieving your goals.”

William Vizuete

William Vizuete

William Vizuete, an associate professor of environmental sciences and engineering, was the keynote speaker. He shared the story of his immigrant parents and the sacrifices they made to help him succeed in school and how he carries on that tradition in his family. He urged the graduates that as they make a new path for themselves to remember they now have a shared responsibility to help others just as their family and the UNC community helped them.

Chancellor Carol Folt congratulated the graduates on all of their accomplishments. “You have achieved your own dream of graduation,” she said, “but you have also made Carolina a stronger, better place for those students who will come after you.”

As part of the experience of celebrating Latina/o culture and success, Paul Cuadros, associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, played a trailer from an upcoming six-episode documentary for NuvoTV called “Los Jets.”

“Los Jets” follows the story of a high school soccer team in Siler City, NC that Caudros coaches. The television documentary stems from Caudros’ book, A Home on the Field, which was the 2009 Summer Reading Program selection for incoming first-year Carolina students.

Several students featured in the documentary are mentees in the Scholars Latino Initiative (SLI), a program in the Center for Global Initiatives at UNC-Chapel Hill that provides higher education opportunities for Latino youth in North Carolina. Through the completion of a structured three-year program, students from under-resourced high schools are mentored by Carolina undergraduates to develop an enthusiasm for higher education and prepare academically for college success. The mentees receive assistance in the college application process and guidance on applying for scholarships in order to make college enrollment a reality.

About the CLC

The CLC has created a network that connects various groups on campus involved in academic and cultural projects and programs to develop a greater awareness of Latina/o issues, cultures and identities. By building collaborative relationships across campus and the community, the CLC provides a supportive environment for students, faculty, staff and alumni to discuss and understand important issues that affect the Latina/o community. For more information regarding the CLC, contact Mr. Pérez at For other diversity news, visit

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Webcast Addresses the School-to-Prison Pipeline

NatlWebcastLogoOn June 2-3, 2014 – Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, Gillings School of Global Public Health and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute along with the School of Social Work and the School of Education at UNC will host the 20th National Health Equity Research Webcast (NHERW). Over the years, the webcast has evolved as a nationally-known and respected program advancing the twin goals of health equity and inclusion. 

“Launched in 1995 as a short-course on minority health research with about a 100 participants,” says Victor J. Schoenbach, Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and one of the events longest-running coordinators, “this annual event now reaches 1,000-2,000 researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and students throughout the nation, making it one of UNC’s most visible contributions to advancing health equity and diversity.”

School to Prison PipelineThe topic for this year’s webcast is “The School-to-Prison Pipeline”. The webcast will span two days and include programs that advance dialogue and research on the local and national impact of the issue. “School to Prison Pipeline” refers to multiple policies and practices enacted within schools such as “zero tolerance”, suspensions and expulsions, school based arrests, disciplinary alternative schools, juvenile detentions and criminal justice procedures for minor infractions.

“The school-to-prison pipeline is a timely and important topic that is being widely discussed and researched throughout the nation. This is a terrifying reality in our nation and an unfortunate growing trend for many of the children sitting in our primary and secondary school classrooms,” says Dr. Taffye Benson Clayton, associate vice chancellor and chief diversity officer at UNC-Chapel Hill. “Selecting this topic for our annual health equity research webcast is an important step in extending the conversation on those social, psychological, economic, and educational factors impacting the lives of children and the ways in which they are channeled toward incarceration and a life in prison and parole systems. I am thrilled that DMA is able to maintain this on-going partnership with the Gillings School of Global Public Health and most recent partnership with the FPG Child Development Institute.”

School-to-Prison Pipeline
Still from “North Carolina’s School to Prison Pipeline”

As a lead-in to the webcast, a special program, “Suspension to Incarceration: the North Carolina Issue” will screen the short documentary NC School to Prison Pipeline on Monday, June 2, 2014 from 3:00-5:00 p.m in Peabody Hall. The documentary addresses the impact of stringent suspensions and incarceration on the youth of North Carolina. The School of Education’s Dean Bill McDiarmid will make opening remarks. After the screening, Durham Assistant District Attorney, Shamieka Rhinehart will lead a town hall meeting to discuss school discipline policies and its disproportionate impact on students of color within North Carolina. This event is co-hosted by the NHERW planning committee, the School of Education at UNC, and Youth Justice North Carolina.

On Tuesday, June 3, 2014 from 1:30-4:30 p.m., the webcast, “School to Prison Pipeline: From Perceptions to Solutions” will be live-streamed from the University’s Tate-Turner-Kuralt School of Social Work auditorium. The webcast is offered as both a live-audience event and an interactive, live-streamed symposium on the web. 

The webcast  will feature three twenty-minute presentations by nationally renowned speakers: Anthony A. Peguero, assistant professor of sociology  and research affiliate of the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention at Virginia Tech; Thalia González, assistant professor of politics at Occidental College; Gary Flowers, CEO of Gary Flowers and Associates. The presentations will be followed by a one and a half hour question-and-answer session with the studio and remote audiences moderated by Christopher Hill, director of the Education and Law Project at the North Carolina Justice Center.

Webcast Planning Committee members
Webcast Planning Committee members in a meeting, Dr. Victor Schoenbach, Trinnette Cooper, Dr Marco Barker and Sharbari Dey

The webcast is made possible through the generous sponsorship from many UNC partners including the Gillings School of Global Public Health; the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs; Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute; Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research; Office of Special Programs, School of Medicine; Student Wellness; School of Social Work; School of Education; Student Affairs, and from Wake Forest University’s Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity.

Both events are free, but registration is required. The webcast will be archived through the Gillings School of Global Public Health NHERW website for those unable to attend or stream the event live. For more information, registration and speaker bios; please visit the webcast webpage at

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