The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday January 22nd

Elevate: Amplifying voices in our community

Elevate is here to do exactly what it says — to give a platform to those whose voices are often silenced. This is a page to celebrate and uplift the underrepresented communities that make up Chapel Hill, who contribute to our culture and daily lives in ways that are often not reported. Elevate adds depth to stories across campus, the town and Orange County.


The page is in part put together and reported by members of the Sharif Durhams Leadership Program, a talent and leadership development course for DTH students from underrepresented groups. Elevate accepts pitches throughout the year for op-eds and letters from members of different groups in our community. Please send submissions to elevate@dailytarheel.com.



CHCCS English language learners' test scores drop 30.3 percent from pre-pandemic years

CHCCS recently released student proficiency data for standardized tests conducted in the 2020-21 school year.  The data showed that proficiency scores for students decreased significantly, particularly for English language learners, between 2018-19 and 2020-21, down 13.7 percent. “We don’t know what caused all the changes, and we didn't test all the children,” Diane Villwock, executive director of assessment and research at CHCCS, said. “So when we compare this to '18-'19, and we know the instruction was different, we've got to be really careful to not lean too hard on that comparison. It's not apples to apples.”

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UNC sophomore midfielder/forward Ernest Bawa (20) chases after the ball at the UNC v. Georgia Southern game at Dorrance Field on Sept. 3.

'Work doesn't lie' for UNC men's soccer player Ernest Bawa

Ernest Bawa grew up in Ashaiman, located in Ghana's capital, Accra. His dedication to soccer paid off, as he eventually received a scholarship to play for the Right to Dream in Ghana. He became the first person in his family to attend high school when he played for the Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut. Even through a halted season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and injury, Ernest Bawa always found his way back to the game.  Now a sophomore at UNC, Bawa's heart remains in his hometown. With his success in soccer thus far, he said he wants others from Ashaiman to also find success with their passions.

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Saba Taj is a Durham based visual artist. Photo courtesy of Guido Villalba Portel.

Visual artist Saba Taj returns to UNC as a visiting lecturer

Taj, a queer Muslim artist with South Asian background, graduated from UNC with a Masters of Fine Arts in 2016 and is now serving as a visiting professor. Taj's artwork pulls from the intersection of their identities and takes influence from stories from the Quran and Islam. “My parents are immigrants from Pakistan,” Taj said. “I am a Southerner. I'm born and raised in North Carolina. I've been socialized as a woman, as well. And all of those things intersect and create a particular perspective I've added that's layered and that's hybrid.”

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Jaci Fields was recently named the new Chair of the Carolina Black Caucus. She is pictured on Sept. 14, 2021.

Jaci Field wants to bring communities together as Carolina Black Caucus chairperson

UNC alumna Jaci Field is the director of the Eddie Smith Field House and a member of the Athletic Facilities and Planning staff. She was recently named chairperson of the Carolina Black Caucus, of which she has been a member for over 20 years. “I just realized how great it felt to not be an ‘other’ in a room, and was really stricken by the wonderful feeling of community and family in the room,” Field said of the CBC.

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Yalitza Ramos, the newly appointed director of the Campus Y, poses for a portrait at the building on Sept. 14, 2021.

UNC Campus Y names new director

On Aug. 26, Yalitza Ramos was announced as the new director of the Campus Y after having served as interim director for 18 months. Ramos is a double Tar Heel with a background in social work. While serving as interim director, Ramos was also director of the Bonner Leaders Program. She has worked with multiple local nonprofits and organizations throughout her time at UNC, including Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, the Orange County Literacy Council, the Compass Center for Women and Families and Girls on the Run.

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DTH Screenshot.

IAAR-SLATE holds first research symposium for undergraduates

The event hosted ten undergraduate students who have conducted research on race, racism and racial equity. “I hope it opens up new questions that audience members might ask, new resources that they have to answer those questions," Faculty Director for Research for IAAR-SLATE Reneé Alexander Craft said. "I'm hoping that it deepens and enriches the dialogue that we have about race, racism and racial equity on UNC campus and beyond.”

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(From left to right) Political committee member Daniel Kang, President Anna Hattle and Senior Advisor Jessie Huang of the Asian American Student Association prepare to address the members of the organization in Bingham Hall on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019.

Looking back at 30 years of the Asian American Students Association

Amid the challenges of a virtual school year and COVID-19 last year, one of UNC’s first Asian-interest organizations — now called the Asian American Students Association (AASA) — remained strong. “The idea of having an Asian American community – it was something that I hadn’t grown up with before,” AASA president Katrina Jagadeesan said. “After meeting a couple of the members and getting to know them and participating, that was something I was missing in my life.”

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Senior Lissie Rivera is UNC's First-Generation Student Association (FGSA) President. FGSA works to "establish a sense of community on campus; there’s so many different identities that first-generation students have in addition to being first-gens” according to Rivera.

'Something to be celebrated': First-Generation Student Association creates community and support

The First-Generation Student Association at UNC aims to create a community that celebrates the difficulties and successes associated with being a first-generation student.  To help first-generation students transition to college life, FGSA hosts a variety of social and professional development events.  On Sept. 15, FGSA will be hosting an event called “Advocating for Yourself as a First-Gen,” where they will discuss email etiquette, how to be heard outside of the classroom and how to ask for recommendation letters.

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Ramona Denby-Brinson, dean of the UNC School of Social Work, poses for a portrait at the SSW on Wednesday, Sep. 1, 2021. Denby-Brinson's appointment was approved on Aug. 5, making her the first Black woman to lead the school.

New dean of School of Social Work hopes to increase innovation and diversity

Ramona Denby-Brinson is the first Black woman to serve as dean of the UNC School of Social Work. She came to UNC from a position as a professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the Ohio State University College of Social Work. Denby-Brinson said she sees this opportunity as a way to use the UNC's strengths to tackle current social problems, specifically COVID-19, racism, social injustice and inequalities.

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