Carolina honors 10 individuals and organizations for public service

Gayatri Rathod (second from the left in the back row) and nine others were recognized for their public services. (photo by DeShelia Spann)
Gayatri Rathod (back row, second from the left) and nine others were recognized for their public services. (photo by DeShelia Spann)

Programs to support Native American tribes in North Carolina, a mental health initiative for refugees and local youth programs are just some of the projects recognized by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill during the 2016 Public Service Awards. Sponsored by the Carolina Center for Public Service, individuals and organizations representing students, faculty, staff and community partners were honored March 30 at the annual Public Service Awards celebration.

“The University’s three-part mission to research, educate and serve our local communities, state, nation and world is truly enhanced by our unwavering commitment to public service,” said Chancellor Carol Folt. “The recipients of this year’s Public Service Awards prove that public service and engaged scholarship enhance the research conducted, lessons taught and knowledge used to serve the public good at this university. I am incredibly proud to recognize the innovation, scholarship and dedication that each of today’s award recipients have displayed.”

The Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award recognizes individual students and faculty for exemplary public service efforts. This year’s Bryan awards go to four individuals and one organization:

Gayatri Rathod, a biology major in the College of Arts and Sciences from Charlotte, received the 2016 Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award for work with Tar Heel TABLE, an organization that provides healthy, emergency food aid to hungry preschool, elementary and middle-school children in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. In her two years as co-chair of Tar Heel TABLE, Rathod launched social media photo campaigns, food drives and news interviews to increase TABLE’s outreach and involvement. In all of her efforts, Rathod has emphasized involvement in TABLE with the hope of combatting hunger.

Catherine Schricker and Korry Tauber, both graduate students in the School of Dentistry, received the 2016 Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award for their work with North Carolina Missions of Mercy (NCMOM) Patient Oral Health Education Program. Tauber and Schricker created and implemented an oral health educational program to supplement the North Carolina Dental Society’s portable free dental clinic. They collaborated with community partners and UNC faculty mentors to develop their oral health education program, which is now a permanent component of the NCMOM clinics. Student volunteers provide personalized dental health instruction using visual aids in combination with interactive demonstrations.

Christopher Wallace, program coordinator at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture & History, received the 2016 Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award for his work with the Communiversity Youth Program. Communiversity draws on existing UNC resources and coordinates them so they can serve local children more effectively. The program exposes kindergarten through fifth-grade students to a college environment and provides them with academic and cultural tools to improve their performance in the classroom, social outlook and likelihood of success in a college environment.

Josh Hinson, clinical assistant professor in the School of Social Work, received the 2016 Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award for his work on UNC Global Transmigration – Refugee Mental Health and Wellness Initiative. This project trains graduate students to use an evidence-based refugee mental health screening instrument and collects data on the extent of refugees’ mental health needs and the effectiveness of mental health treatment. In 2015, Refugee Wellness began contracting with the North Carolina Division of Health and Human Services’ Refugee Office to provide mental health services to refugees throughout Wake, Durham and Orange counties.

Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC) received the 2016 Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award for its work as a student-led organization whose mission is to provide free health services to local, underserved individuals and communities; partner with communities to develop and implement sustainable health programs; and create an interdisciplinary service-learning environment for students in the health science programs at UNC. Established in 1967, SHAC operates weekly interdisciplinary acute medical and dental clinics, as well as chronic care and referral services and home health services. SHAC serves more than 1,100 patients annually through these clinical services.

In addition to these public service awards, several other groups will be recognized including six Bryan Fellowship teams involving 26 students; seven Community Engagement Fellowship projects created by eight students; the recipient of the 2016 Mingma Norbu Sherpa Fellowship; two students for the Davis Projects for Peace Award; and 10 North Carolina Outward Bound scholarship recipients.


Read about the other public service awards and their recipients here.