Public Service Awards recognize community members

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The Carolina Center for Public Service hosted it’s annual Public Service awards in the Alumni Center. The awards honors students and faculty that have better the community through service and programs.
Alice Ammerman won the Ned Brooks Award for Public Service.

Some things can’t be learned in a classroom.

And Friday afternoon, the 12th annual Public Service Awards Celebration and Showcase honored 21 groups and individuals who learn by applying the skills they’ve acquired at UNC to make a difference in the real world — a cornerstone of the Academic Plan.

“Public service and public engagement are embedded in our culture,” said Bruce Carney, executive vice chancellor and provost, in an introduction before the eight awards were presented.

Lynn Blanchard, director of the Carolina Center for Public Service, said service to the community has become especially important in light of the economic downturn.

“It’s a hard time for our University but an even harder time for the communities that we partner with,” said Blanchard, whose center hosted the event.

“Those of us who do the event become more inspired in every way,” she added.

The Ned Brooks Award for Public Service was presented to Alice Ammerman, director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, for her work with health, nutrition and community-based research.

Ammerman said she was especially honored to receive the award because Brooks — of whom the award is given in honor — has been one of her career-long mentors and helped establish the center she now directs.

“I really admire him, which made it extra special,” she said.

Tucker LaPrade, a graduate student and English teaching assistant, won the Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award for his work with Eno River State Park.

LaPrade’s English 101 and 102 classes created audio tours that park visitors can listen to through iPhone and Android applications.

“I was just completely honored, inspired to do more service-learning courses,” he said.

LaPrade said he came up with the course idea after reading about service-learning.

“I was really inspired by the pedagogy,” he said. “The best way to learn is to go out in the community and do something.”

Yu Zhou, a sophomore from China, was recognized for winning the $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant. The funds will go to Young Scholars International, a program Zhou created to allow 10 American and 10 Chinese students from UNC to teach seminars in Beijing high schools this summer.

Two students, one American and one Chinese, will co-direct a seminar based on their own interests.

“My international study abroad experience at UNC makes me feel that liberal arts benefit my thinking skills and cross-cultural understanding,” Zhou said.

He said he lacked liberal arts in his Chinese education — a problem he hopes to fix for other Chinese students.

Carolina for Amani, a UNC branch of the Amani Children’s Foundation, was named a UNC Entrepreneurial Public Service Fellow and an APPLES Social Entrepreneur Fellow.

The organization aids the New Life Home orphanages of Kenya by fundraising and sending UNC students to update and digitize adoption files during the summer.

Carolina for Amani also won $3,000 through the UNC Entrepreneurial Public Service Fellows program in 2010, and the award helped fund its first programs last summer.

“Any time you get the backing of an organization on campus it brings legitimacy and support to your organization,” said Morgan Abbott, a junior who founded the group.

Patti Thorp, Chancellor Holden Thorp’s wife, attended the service awards.

She said she and the chancellor attend almost every year, though the chancellor was not available this year.

“(It is) one of our highlights of our year,” she said.

“It’s one amazing afternoon and just fills you with chills with what our community is doing.”

Contact the University Editor at university@dailytarheel.com.

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