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Kenan Scholars present research at inaugural showcase

Showcase Screenshot.PNG
Dr. Kim Allen, Kenan Scholars Program Director, welcomes attendees to the inaugural Kenan Scholars Public Sector Showcase on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020.

The Class of 2022 Kenan Scholars presented research and internship experiences — from the Chatham Food Hub to the Washington National Cathedral — on Sept. 25 at the inaugural Kenan Scholars Fall 2020 Public Sector Showcase.

The presentation was separated into panels focusing on four topics: COVID-19’s impact on local communities, internships at nonprofits, state and local government experiences and Center for Sustainable Enterprise internships. 

COVID-19’s impact on local communities

Students Sam Gordon-Pecelli, Cara Kuuskvere, Nick Mignogna and Jared Cohen presented their research findings on the impact COVID-19 had on their own local communities. 

Gordon-Pecelli’s research focused on using technology like FaceTime and Zoom to alleviate the effect long-term physical isolation had on residents. 

“The goal was to implement a fully virtual experience to continue to have high school students partner with senior citizens for weekly visits and games,” Gordon-Pecelli said. “And we did just that.”  

Kuuskvere’s research focused on the impact remote learning had on students. Mignogna’s research focused on the impact COVID-19 had on a local community day camp in Radnor Township, Pennsylvania. Cohen’s research focused on the impact COVID-19 had on New Jersey’s coastal communities.

Nonprofit internships

Abigale Hawkins, Paige Murray and Anna Manocha interned at nonprofits. Hawkins interned at the Washington National Cathedral, Murray interned with Charlotte Radiology and Manocha interned with the Chatham County Food Hub.

Orange County Commissioner Penny Rich was the keynote speaker. In between panels, Rich spoke about COVID-19's impact on Orange County and its community, and the local government’s response. 

“Unlike other disasters, like a hurricane or a flood, the impacts of this pandemic are not easily identifiable,” she said. “It’s time to think about transforming our community to be more resilient, more inclusive, more equitable and more agile.” 

State and local government experiences

Jack Morningstar, Caroline Englert and Thomas Slade discussed their experiences interning at state and local governments. 

Morningstar interned as a fundraising assistant for Chapel Hill state representative Graig R. Meyer. Englert interned with the Florida state government, focusing on funding for housing nonprofits.

Slade interned with the N.C. Office of Science, Technology & Innovation. His experience focused on lobbying for grant funding for innovative small businesses. 

“Through COVID, interestingly, arose this opportunity to actually highlight some of the amazing things that some of these really cool businesses are doing,” Slade said. 

Greg Brown, executive director of Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, discussed COVID-19’s impact on the institute and their work in the public sector. 

“We decided that what we really wanted to do was help people better understand not just what was happening on the health care side of the pandemic, but also what was happening on the economic side," Brown said. 

Center for Sustainable Enterprise internships

Carli Cone, Yingxi Huang, Ethan Silvey and McCauley Palmer presented research they conducted at the Kenan-Flagler Business School's Center for Sustainable Enterprise. 

Cone’s research focused on sustainability and the global supply — specifically, the environmental and economic impact of e-waste. Huang’s research focused on the current state of and education for impact investing, as well as evaluating the CSE’s Impact Investment Initiative. Silvey’s research focused on analyzing government policies for COVID-19 recovery and relief efforts. 

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Palmer's research focused on recession recovery, particularly the need for sustainability. 

“Sustainability offers growth for individual businesses through new markets with green opportunities, innovation and product development,” Palmer said.  

Silvey told The Daily Tar Heel he wanted to emphasize the larger picture of his presentation. 

“The big takeaway I really want people to remember,” he said, “is that there’s a lot of work to be done on just this basic, systematic level.” 

Darien Kenner, a sophomore business and public policy major, attended the live event. He said that while he always had a strong interest in the Kenan Scholars program, the can-do spirit of the scholars in the wake of COVID-19 was inspiring.

“They very much were caught off guard by this," Kenner said. "How they were able to flip and change their course quickly and efficiently, for them to still be able to do work, that was really impactful."