On the 224th annual University Day, Chancellor Carol Folt introduced a scholarship fund which aims to recognize UNC students, faculty, staff or alumni who have advocated for inclusion and diversity.
These individuals, deemed Bridge Builders, will be rewarded for their efforts with a scholarship in their name. In order to involve the Carolina community, Chancellor Folt extended an invitation to the general public to nominate someone who deserves recognition as a Bridge Builder.
“For this new round of named scholarships, we welcome your nominations for Bridge Builders — people whose work, advocacy and personal example helped forge a more inclusive, unified and aspirational Carolina community,” Chancellor Folt said in an email statement.
This round of named scholarships followed the footsteps of the Noteworthy Firsts, who were introduced on University Day last year. Twenty-one Noteworthy Firsts were recognized with a preexisting scholarship newly named in their honor. These individuals were selected based on their ability to break down cultural barriers to pave the way for positive change at UNC. The scholarships in recognition of the Noteworthy Firsts will still exist; the Bridge Builders will just acknowledge more people from the University who advocated for diverse populations.
G. Rumay Alexander serves as professor and director of the Office of Inclusive Excellence at the UNC School of Nursing, and sits on the committee that will officially name the Bridge Builders in the spring.
“The idea is to honor people that have been ambassadors for the University and bridge gaps between the community and the University in context of its core values,” Alexander said. “We must acknowledge that it takes a village, and it’s good to honor those who have given their time, talent and scholarship to make the University amongst the greatest in the nation.”
Eric Johnson, the assistant director of policy and communications for the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid, said he hopes that scholars will be inspired by the Bridge Builders to make a mark of their own at UNC.
“The hope in all of this is that these names will be more out there in the student community," Johnson said. "We don’t do enough to celebrate the people who broke barriers at Carolina.”
The mission of the Bridge Builders scholarship initiative aligns with the message put forth by the For All Kind Campaign, which was officially announced by the University earlier this month.