Each year an award is given to two people who have shown their commitment to inclusion through their contributions to social justice and diversity in their everyday work. This year’s recipients of the MLK Unsung Hero Awards are faculty members Jan Yopp and Erica Wallace.
UNC graduate Jan Yopp has worked for the University for 40 years. She went on to receive her master’s degree from the University of Florida and returned to UNC as a professor in the School of Media and Journalism in 1977. She became the dean of Summer School for Academic Affairs 10 years ago and currently holds that position. Yopp is an advocate for the success of each individual student and works to ensure an even playing field for them all.
“Our students come from different backgrounds,” Yopp said. “We’ve got students from rural North Carolina, we’ve got students from large cities, we have students that are first generation, we have veterans that are coming back to school. We have such diversity in our student population, and some students come to college more ready than others. If we admit them, then we are making a commitment to their student success.”
In addition to being concerned with student success, Yopp is a strong advocate for students having freedom in choosing their career paths and ensuring that opportunities are available to them in whatever direction they choose.
Regarding the MLK Unsung Hero Award, Yopp feels honored to be a recipient. Given that the award is nomination-based, she is flattered to have been recognized by her colleagues and the people she works with every day. She credits the people around her for their work in student success as well.