Students, Faculty Rank Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Masterclass as Best Virtual Event They Have Ever Attended

As the pandemic continues to rage across the country, it has gotten harder to network and collaborate with fellow changemakers and share new solutions to social issues. Now the Sullivan Foundation is making it easy again, thanks to a new online program called Ignite Masterclass.

With its popular Ignite Retreats, usually held twice a year in North Carolina, currently on hold, the Sullivan Foundation is bringing social-change leaders, college students and faculty/staff together through the weekly Ignite Masterclass sessions—and all classes are free. Even better, many participants say it’s the best online event they have ever attended.

Click here to learn more about Ignite Masterclass, sign up and view the 2020 schedule.

Spud Marshall, the Sullivan Foundation’s director of student engagement, leads the sessions. Each one features a mini-lecture from a social innovator about a specific initiative, followed by a chance to network with peers, Sullivan coaches and other leaders in the field.

“The Ignite Masterclass introduces you to leaders around the world engaged in social change and helps open doors so you can take the next step on your changemaking journey,” Marshall said. “With more than 50 coaches and speakers joining the sessions every week throughout the fall, bring your curiosity, because you never know who you might meet each week!”

With the Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Retreats on hold due to the pandemic, retreat leader Spud Marshall has found a new way to bring changemakers together through the Ignite Masterclass program.

The pandemic brought a screeching halt to live events like the Ignite Retreats, but virtual programming has filled the gap. In fact, holding Ignite Masterclasses online once a week allows Marshall to recruit dozens of thought leaders to share their ideas and time with participants. “One of the biggest values of the Ignite Retreat is the ability for people to connect with others who can help you take the next step on your changemaking journey,” Marshall said. “With the Ignite Masterclass series, we are creating the same networking experience and offering it weekly throughout the fall. We have more than 50 coaches and speakers for participants to connect with during the sessions.”

Marshall said he conducted a survey of participants to get their feedback on the sessions. “The majority of participants rank the Ignite Masterclass as the best virtual event they’ve ever attended,” he said.

“We’ve designed the sessions so that everyone walks away with content and connection,” he added. “Our featured speakers share stories about their work and helpful tips and frameworks they use to advance social change in their field. And then we end the sessions with a networking lounge for participants to connect with coaches who can help you figure out how to apply that content to your personal life, problems in your home community, and through projects you want to get involved in.”

Ignite Masterclasses offer benefits to college students and faculty/staff members who are passionate about creating positive social change. All classes are aimed at both audiences, who can collaborate to launch their own initiatives both in and beyond the classroom.

For students, the benefits include:

  • Building relationships with peers and fellow students throughout the country
  • Access to national leaders in the social innovation and changemaking space
  • An inspiring alternative to Zoom webinars—these sessions are fully interactive and motivate participants to start taking action now.

For college faculty and staff members, the benefits include:

  • Access to new topics and national speakers each week for nine weeks
  • Interacting with up to 70 Sullivan partner schools and their students in real time from classrooms throughout the country
  • Creating assignments around topical workshops and sessions each week
  • Workshops are relevant to students as well as faculty
  • All faculty and students are welcome to participate at no charge

Recent Ignite Masterclass sessions have covered topics such as sustainable design and how to apply the principles of sustainability to product design and development; storytelling for racial and social justice and the media’s role in perpetuating social injustice; and pushing through adversity and navigating the discomfort of change and uncertainty.

Tessa Zimmerman, founder and executive director of Asset Education, will lead an upcoming Ignite Masterclass session on Tuesday, Sept. 29.

The next Ignite Masterclass will be held in two sessions, from 12:30-1:45 p.m. and 2:00-3:15 p.m. (ET), on Tuesday, Sept. 29. It features Tessa Zimmerman, founder and executive director of Asset Education, and focuses on maintaining health and well-being in a chaotic and conflict-ridden era. The session will explore a variety of stress-reducing, resilience-boosting tools and strategies that will help you be well and stay well.

Here’s a preview of sessions scheduled for October 2020:

  • 11 a.m-12:15 p.m. and 3:00-4:15 p.m. (ET), Tuesday, Oct. 6: Developing Empathy as a Tool for Social Justice, with Reagan Pugh of Assemble. The session will guide participants through a dialogue on default mindsets, examine how fear prevents us from growth and provide strategies for developing empathy to advance social causes you care about.
  • 9:30-10:45 a.m. and 10:50 a.m.-12:05 p.m. (ET), Thursday, Oct. 15: Design Thinking for Personal Growth and Social Innovation, with Kaveh Sadeghian of the Center for Social Impact Strategy. Sadeghian will introduce participants to the core principles of design thinking, creativity and social innovation and explore how to create meaningful work that matches your personal values.
  • 2:30-3:45 p.m. (ET), Monday, Oct. 19: Nature-Inspired Solutions for a Healthier, More Sustainable World, with Jared Yarnall-Schane of the Biomimicry Institute. This session will introduce participants to biomimicry, a practice that learns from and mimics the strategies found in nature to solve human design challenges. It will also highlight case studies on businesses that learn from and support the natural world.
  • 1:00-2:15 p.m. and 2:30-3:45 p.m. (ET), Wednesday, Oct. 28: Reimagining Education With Rappers and Corporate America, with Jarren Small of Reading With a Rapper. Small will discuss creative ways to pursue change within the education system through unlikely partnerships, such as bringing rap artists into the classroom to teach language and arts skills.

U.S. News Ranks University of Virginia as No. 4 Best Public University in the U.S.

By Jane Kelly

In its 2021 report, U.S. News has ranked the University of Virginia (UVA) the fourth-best public school in the United States. UVA also moved up two spots in the overall rankings to No. 26.

UVA, a Sullivan Foundation partner school, posts the top graduation rate of any public university in the country at 95%. The average first-year retention rate at UVA is 97%. Combined, these findings put the University tenth among all schools ranked nationally by graduation rate.

The rankings also show that UVA graduates the highest percentage of Pell Grant recipients of any public school in the U.S. at a rate of 93%. Recipients of Pell Grants typically come from households whose family incomes are less than $50,000 annually.

U.S News uses six main factors to determine a school’s overall rank. One, “outcomes,” includes things like graduation and retention rates and how well schools graduate students who received federal Pell Grants. This factor receives the most weight in the ranking. Another factor, known as “faculty resources,” assesses a school’s commitment to instruction by looking at things such as class size and faculty salary. In this category, UVA is ranked the third-best public school in the country.

UVA’s standing as the fourth-best public school in the country remains unchanged from 2020. For this ranking cycle, UVA’s overall score improved seven points, going from 72 to 79.

The top four public schools ranked by U.S. News are, in this order: the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Michigan; and UVA.

All the data used to determine the 2021 rankings are based on information schools provided U.S. News in the Fall of 2019 or prior years, meaning that the new findings do not consider the impact of COVID-19.

Last month, Money Magazine ranked UVA the nation’s second-best-value public university, leaping five spots from No. 7, where the university stayed previously for three years in a row.

This article has been edited slightly from the original version appearing on the UVA website.

Leading Angel Investment Group Creates Affiliate Group for Members of Sullivan Foundation Network

VentureSouth, one of the country’s leading angel investment groups, has launched an affiliate group specifically for faculty, staff, alumni and students of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation’s 70 partner colleges and universities across the southeastern U.S.

The group, called VentureSouth Sullivan, is one of 14 angel investment groups and funds operated by VentureSouth, headquartered in Greenville, S.C. With its formation, anyone from the Sullivan Foundation’s partner schools can become a member of the South’s largest and most successful angel network and invest in innovative startup businesses that will drive the region’s economy. Additionally, 25 percent of their annual membership fees will be donated to the Sullivan Foundation. All proceeds will be used to financially support students, faculty and staff from partner schools who participate in the foundation’s events, programming and education initiatives focused on making positive change in their communities.

Members of VentureSouth Sullivan can also donate a percentage of any profits derived from their investments to benefit the Sullivan school of their choice.

Matt Dunbar, a managing director of VentureSouth, is an alumnus of Sullivan Foundation partner school Clemson University and received the 1999 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. “I was fortunate and humbled to be presented the Sullivan Award upon graduating from Clemson, and, through chance, recently reconnected with the foundation,” Dunbar said. “Creating this affiliate group specifically for Sullivan alumni and donating a portion of the annual fees is one way of supporting the Sullivan network of schools and encouraging students to choose a path of service to their communities.”

The 2019 Angel Funders Report, released in July 2019 by the Angel Capital Association, recognized VentureSouth as one of North America’s top 10 angel investment groups based on capital invested by its members in the previous year. VentureSouth was listed alongside some of the largest and most respected angel groups in the U.S. and Canada, including Tech Coast Angels in California; New York Angels and Golden Seeds in New York; and the Central Texas Angel Network.

Since its inception, VentureSouth has invested nearly $50 million in more than 75 companies, with a focus on the Carolinas and adjacent states. Companies in its portfolio include innovators like Altis Biosystems in Chapel Hill, N.C., which specializes in next-generation stem cell technologies designed to make drug discovery faster, cheaper and safer while reducing the need for animal testing; Actived, the Greenville, S.C. developer of a technology platform for movement-based learning—such as walkabouts—to get kids out of their desks and onto their feet as they’re learning language arts and mathematics; and Proterra, an innovative leader in the design and manufacture of zero-emission buses that save money on fleet operations while reducing the transportation industry’s dependency on fossil fuels.

Joining VentureSouth Sullivan’s group allows Sullivan alumni to invest in similar early-stage companies with major growth potential. It’s also a chance to make a difference in an economically disadvantaged region of the U.S. VentureSouth’s motto, after all, is “Make Money. Have Fun. Do Good.”

“For VentureSouth members, ‘doing good’ comes from multiple levels of impact created by our investing activity,” Dunbar said. “We know that all net job growth in the economy comes from young companies that grow fast—and which don’t usually have access to other forms of capital—so our investments really help fuel the growth of good jobs and opportunities and wealth creation in our communities.”

“Additionally, many of our portfolio companies are working to solve serious problems in arenas like cancer diagnostics, infant screening, women’s health, public transit and clean energy,” Dunbar added. “So we are helping advance significant efforts to save lives and protect our environment. Lastly, our model allows VentureSouth members to share their experience and wisdom with the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders, which creates a wealth of good in the form of passing it down and paying it forward.”

With the new angel group for Sullivan alumni, Dunbar is paying it forward to the Sullivan Foundation as well. “I have to admit that I didn’t know much about the award or the Sullivans before I became a recipient at Clemson,” he said. “But once I had a chance to learn about the history and legacy of the award and its namesake, I was extremely honored and humbled to share the award with such a long line of great servant leaders. Even now I am still challenged and inspired to try to live up to the principles and values it represents.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the VentureSouth Sullivan angel investment group can join an upcoming series of online Q&A sessions in September. The sessions will be held at venturesouth.vc/venturesouth-sullivan at 4 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 1; 8:30 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 9; and 11 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 17.

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Shifts to Remote Learning for Undergraduates

Faced with a surge in COVID-19 cases, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Sullivan Foundation partner school, will shift to remote learning for undergraduates starting Wednesday, Aug. 19, following a brief attempt to hold traditional in-person classes.

UNC welcomed students back to the residence halls two weeks ago and held its first day of in-person classes one week ago. “In just the past week (Aug. 10-16), we have seen [the] COVID-19 positivity rate rise from 2.8 percent to 13.6 percent at Campus Health,” said Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz and Executive Vice Chancellor/Provost Robert A. Blouin in a message on the UNC website.

Related: UNC research explains why sea turtles eat plastic

“As of this morning, we have tested 954 students and have 177 in isolation and 349 in quarantine, both on and off campus. So far, we have been fortunate that most students who have tested positive have demonstrated mild symptoms.”

The university officials said the shift to remote learning will apply to all undergraduate classes. “Courses in our graduate, professional and health affairs schools will continue to be taught as they are, or as directed by the schools,” the letter noted. “Academic advising and academic support services will be available online. Our research enterprise will remain unchanged.”

“We knew this would be a Carolina fall like no other, and with our residence halls at less than 60 percent capacity and less than 30 percent of our total classroom seats taught in person, we certainly began [the semester] with a very different feel,” Guskiewicz and Blouin noted in the letter.

Duke’s Imari Walker Uses YouTube to Explain Dangers of Plastic Water Bottles in Entertaining Fashion

More and more Americans recognize that plastic is a problem, but Imari Walker Karega, a PhD student at Sullivan Foundation partner school Duke University, has a knack for explaining it in accessible terms—and for dispelling myths and misconceptions about environmental issues.

And Walker gets the message out using one of the world’s most popular social media platforms—YouTube—through short, engaging videos that focus on the science of water quality and microplastics while also offering tips for getting into college and thriving while you’re there.

Walker earned her undergraduate degree in marine science from the University of California-Berkeley and is presently a researcher in the lab of Duke University environmental engineer Lee Ferguson. She studies the fate of plastic components as they break down and disperse in the environment.

One of Walker’s major worries: plastic water bottles. Many consumers believe bottled water is safer to drink than tap water—and they’re wrong. “The biggest concern is that you don’t know where that bottle of water has been before it ends up in your hand,” she said. “It could have been sitting in a warehouse or the back of a truck, in the heat—which speeds the plastic’s disintegration—for a long time. I worry about the chemicals and the microplastics that could be in there when you consume the water. And then we’re also polluting the environment with the empty bottle. It’s a double whammy.”

Part of Walker’s dissertation work is conducted at the CEINT Mesocosm Facility in Duke Forest, where she doses a simulated wetland ecosystem with microplastics to discover where they will eventually settle out. The water is full of the UV inhibitors that are added to plastic during the manufacturing process, Walker said, and the fish see tiny bits of plastic as tasty prey—and gobble them down.

According to Walker, the environment inside an animal’s stomach can cause some harmful chemicals to be released at higher concentrations than they would in seawater. She has used non-target mass spectrometry, a form of chemical forensic science, to find that high concentrations of surfactants, lubricants and biocides leach from plastic items commonly found on beaches, including balloons, trash bags, Styrofoam cups, and fishing line.

It’s well-known that some of these plastic additives can affect your health—like BPA, which can bind to estrogen receptors and influence bodily processes. The effects of hundreds of other plastic additives are still unknown.

But Walker said it’s difficult to make recommendations for alternativeslike reverse osmotic filtration systems in place of plastic bottles—when they are often expensive. “‘Environmentally friendly’ is not cost-effective,” she said. “It’s elitist, in a way, and it’s hard to encourage people to do good things when they’re not accessible.

On her Youtube channel, Walker delves into the topics she studies, including water quality and chemical exposure from consumer products. But the videos are not geared toward other scientists—instead, they’re produced for a broad range of ages and knowledge levels. “I feel like we researchers have been living in a little bit of a bubble when we go into our labs and interact mostly with other researchers,” she said. “The public needs to understand what environmental engineering is, what a researcher does, what our findings are and what the implications are for daily life.”

Her videos also focus on higher education, paying special attention to people in their teens who might be thinking about college. In recent years she served as a mentor for SENSOR Saturday Academy, which helps underrepresented Durham, N.C. middle-school students explore STEM through real-life water quality projects.

“For me personally, it’s important to communicate this work in a public-facing way because I didn’t see many black female environmental engineers—I’ve only met two or three, ever,” said WalkerI wanted to be that change and inspire others to think about this field.”

You can learn more about Walker at her website.

This article was adapted from a press release appearing on the Duke University website.

Akimbo’s Free Emerging Leaders Program Helps College Students Channel Their Changemaking Powers

If your pandemic summer’s shaping up to be a bummer, a five-day online workshop series for college-student leaders and changemakers could turn it around—and it won’t cost you a dime.

Akimbo’s Emerging Leaders Program launched in June with 100 students looking to learn the real skills they need to thrive in the working world—and channel their own changemaking powers. It was such a success that Akimbo will offer it again from Monday, August 3, through Friday, August 7, 2020.

Interested students must apply for the program before midnight, Monday, July 6. Click here to learn more and fill out an application.

The program is free, but spots are limited. Finalists will be contacted via email by Thursday, July 9, and a mandatory group call of all finalists will be held at 10 a.m. (ET) on either Monday, July 13, or Tuesday, July 14. Students will receive notice of acceptance on Wednesday, July 15.

The project-based program is designed for fulltime undergraduate college students from the sophomore level up to 2020 graduates. It’s run by two Akimbo coaches with a passion for helping students embrace the unknown and discover their own ability to make change. “It’s really all about leaning into the possibility ahead,” said Taylor Harrington, who manages the program. “There’s no rubric for the projects.”

“This program could be the thing that helps Sullivan students realize, ‘This is what it takes to help me get where I want to go. This is the path I should take. This is the first step. And I don’t have to do it alone,’” Harrington said. “When we ran this program in June 2020, students found their tribe. I had one student reach out and share how reassuring it felt that there were people out there, other college students, who also question the status quo, who want to push the boundaries of what’s possible, who were searching for a community of like-minded peers to support them.”

Founded by entrepreneur, author and blogger Seth Godin, Akimbo offers a range of online workshops that include the four-week altMBA program focused on leadership and management. According to the company’s website, Akimbo’s workshops are “about bending the culture, about speaking up and being heard. We believe that each of us has more power than ever before to see the world as it is, to contribute and to make things better.”

The Emerging Leaders group will meet online through Zoom starting at 10 a.m. (ET) each day. The program includes a few hours of group conversation led by the coaches, followed by intensive work on daily team projects—the exact nature of which can’t be revealed in advance, Harrington said. “I can say they’re open enough that everyone will be able to relate to them and interpret them differently,” she said. “The assignments won’t be silly group projects about something students aren’t interested in. Students will be asked to talk about themselves within the projects and the change they want to make in the world.”

Recalling the June program, Harrington said, “Students spent a lot of time together. The projects helped them dig deep, to leave with more questions than they had at the beginning of the week. There aren’t any case studies. This is about the students, their work and where they want to go … They find the answers within themselves and each other.”

One participant, Kimia Tabatabaei, said the June program taught her “what it means to be a lynchpin, the type of leader whose magic and authenticity and commitment to a purpose bring value to every place they enter. And I’ve learned that being that leader doesn’t require any permission. All you need is to choose yourself, to trust yourself and to believe that you have the power to step up and start making that change.”

Natalie Esparza participated in the Emerging Leaders workshop program in June. (LinkedIn photo)

Natalie M. Esparza, another participant, agreed. “No matter how old you are, no matter where you are in the world, you can take ownership of making change happen. You can ask for help from anyone in the world who’s just as passionate as you, and you can make things that didn’t exist a week ago that are powerful and life-changing.”

Since many Sullivan-affiliated students have already built their own network of like-minded changemakers through the Ignite Retreats, field trips and study-abroad adventures, Akimbo’s Emerging Leaders Program offers a chance to cast their net even further. “Last time we had students from all over the world join us, including students from Australia who switched their sleep schedule to dedicate time to this,” Harrington said. “Experiencing ‘aha!’ moments with students from around the world whom you’ve never met in person is something magical.”

Guilford College Art Professor’s Paintings Capture Plight of Systemic Racism

Antoine Williams, an assistant professor of art at Sullivan Foundation partner school Guilford College, recently auctioned his mixed-media work on Instagram in support of racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement.

“All of the figures in the painting are small within this distressed surface, so it’s all of us—Black people within a system of racism. We are in this system of economic and racial oppression. We are still people, and we still navigate it, and we still do the best that we can,” Williams explained.

Related: Past Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award winner Josh Nadzam raises funds for NAACP With Run for Black Lives marathon

The two pieces included in the auction were selected from Williams’ “There Will Be No Miracles Here” series, based on Casey Gerald’s book of the same name. Both the novel and the artwork serve as memoirs of each man’s experience with racial identity and systemic power injustices.


“The series overall is about memory,” Williams said. “It’s about these people that I grew up with that I love, but as a kid you look at them as superheroes. Adults are something else when you are a kid, and then you grow up and you realize they are, like all of us, flawed individuals. Then you get older, and I am taking a look back, realizing these are individuals who were within this system.”

Williams also worked with local North Carolina art institutions that have exhibited his work to donate to the cause. “There is conversation in the art world around white-led art institutions who benefit greatly from Black creative labor but don’t do enough to address anti-blackness and white supremacy,” he said. “Them taking part in the fundraiser was a way of having these institutions engage, past Instagram posts, in a way that affects the lives of actual Black people.”

Related: This Houston organization aims to break the school-to-prison pipeline for disadvantaged youth

At Guilford, Williams takes these lessons beyond his work and into the classroom, where he teaches students the importance of art in social movements. With protests for racial equality taking place across the community, he wants to serve as a reminder that advocacy can take on many forms. “Everyone doesn’t have the ability to be on the front line at a protest. But we all have skills and resources that can benefit the movement that may not be on the frontlines,” he said.

Williams joins many local artists who have been sharing their work on social media and across downtown Greensboro. “Public art can be a double-edged sword in that it can employ artists and spread awareness. But it can also be used as symbolic gestures in place of actual systemic change. It becomes a backdrop without any real action,” he said.

While he doesn’t have expectations for viewers of his work, Williams said he hopes that those who see his pieces and other public Black Lives Matter artwork will also take the time to educate themselves on how to dismantle white supremacy.

This article was edited slightly from the original version appearing on the Guilford College website.

Brenau University Faculty, Students and Alumni Guide Georgians Through COVID-19 Quarantine

In the face of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), students, faculty and alumni at Sullivan Foundation partner school Brenau University are working hard to provide education and support for those in quarantine or who are transitioning from hospital to home.

That includes Brenau alumna Brittany White, a medical social worker at Emory University, who educates and assists patients and their families with care coordination, care progression and discharge planning.

Related: UK social enterprise will bypass big drug companies to make COVID-19 vaccine available to the poor

White, who earned her B.S. in health science in 2012 and M.S. in applied gerontology in 2013 from Brenau, said COVID-19 has pushed healthcare workers to be more creative and innovative in their daily practices. “We think critically,” she said. “We look at not just one aspect but the entire picture. We will not always be able to create a solution for everything, but we do everything we can to help facilitate the safest and most effective discharge for our patients.”

White credits her Brenau education with preparing her for the complex challenges brought on by COVID-19. “I work with a hospital system and team that are taking extraordinary measures that are innovative and [who] are all-around pioneers and world-leading experts,” she said. “I get to be a part of that. But if I know anything, as a Brenau graduate, I am like ‘gold refined by fire.’ Each day, I am working through this crisis, sifting, sorting and continuously refining. I love being a social worker, and I love that Brenau molded and refined me into the strong, resilient and leading woman that I am today.”

While White does not provide hands-on medical care, she is still affecting the lives of each person she encounters by offering as much support as possible. Sometimes, that means a different approach to a new problem.

Related: How Brenau University helps unseen and forgotten populations survive the pandemic

“COVID-19 has shown how resilient we social workers can be,” she said. “You get creative, you get smarter, and you work harder to find and facilitate solutions. Social workers are supposed to help patients and communities to cope and thrive in times of crisis and transition.”

An important part of that transition is quarantine care, and a new partnership at Brenau’s Ivester College of Health Sciences will ensure that quarantined individuals get the care and attention they need while also providing a vital learning opportunity for students.

Becky Metcalfe, associate professor of nursing at Brenau University

Through the nonprofit Hope Ripples, students in the Mary Inez Grindle School of Nursing will be providing help to those affected by COVID-19—particularly patients who have been sent home and are quarantined. In doing so, they will also be able to earn clinical hours.

“Brenau is going to be the first group working with Hope Ripples,” said Associate Professor of Nursing Becky Metcalfe, who was already volunteering with the organization prior to the new clinical partnership. “We’ll follow patients who have been sent home during their 14 days of quarantine, making sure to communicate what symptoms to watch for. When necessary, we’ll connect them to resources like food, medicine—anything they need.”

Students meet nightly online with a professor and other students to discuss their clients’ needs as well as their experiences in general. For nursing major Tenkela Williams, that includes gaining valuable experience in the field while also helping others.

Tenkela Williams, left, is one of the nursing students working with Hope Ripples. (Photo courtesy of Tenkela Williams)

“It will not only assist in my communication skills with clients, but it will also provide others with the necessary support they need to get through this virus and not feel as if they are alone throughout the process,” Williams said. “Without this one-on-one interaction, I would not feel as confident entering into the nursing profession.”

All of this is done via phone or Zoom, and volunteers follow a strict script with information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Related: University of Virginia faculty, alumni lead effort to combat food insecurity during pandemic

The CDC has been at the forefront of educating and protecting the public in regard to COVID-19, and that’s a big part of the job for Christy Smith, a quarantine public health advisor for the CDC and psychology student working on her master’s in clinical counseling at Brenau.

Smith is part of the preparedness team that works with quarantine stations at the land borders and the two major airports in Georgia—Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. She is tasked with safeguarding the public by staying in close contact with the quarantine teams if they have to respond to a sick traveler. That includes creating and executing various plans with partners such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Throughout the year, the plans are worked on and practiced in case an outbreak occurs.

Christy Smith is a quarantine public health advisor for the CDC and is earning her master’s in clinical counseling psychology. (Photo courtesy of Christy Smith)

While she isn’t providing hands-on care, Smith, who in five years at the CDC has also been involved with responses to other viruses such as Ebola and Zika, is still hard at work preparing those who are in direct contact with the travelers to make sure illnesses do not enter the country. With COVID-19, the team has now switched to response mode, meaning those plans are put into action.

“Everybody has been coming together to respond to this pandemic,” Smith said. “All the effort that is being done to carry out these plans has always been there, but it’s magnified now. I’m proud to be part of it, even though it may not be recognized as much. I see it firsthand, and I know that we have extremely talented people doing difficult work.”

This article was edited slightly from the original version appearing on the Brenau University website.

Lecture Series at Furman University Aims to Bring People Together in Polarized Times

The novel coronavirus has spent the last three months driving people apart. This summer, Michele Speitz, an associate professor of English literature at Sullivan Foundation partner school Furman University, hopes the humanities can help bring them back together with “Tolle, Lege,” a virtual lecture and discussion series.

“The humanities addresses these fundamental questions of what it means to be human, of what it means to live the good life, and we’ve had everything that feels normal and feels right go out the window,” Speitz, also the director of the Furman Humanities Center, said. “It’s the tools of the humanities that can help us find a clear path forward and take some comfort in what people have done and said before.”

Related: Furman University professor develops life-saving humanitarian drones

A child’s voice chanting “tolle, lege” (Latin for “take, read”) prompted theologian and philosopher Augustine of Hippo to begin reading from his collection of Paul’s epistles, which led to his conversion to Christianity. Influencing religious choice isn’t the aim of the series but opening the door to enlightenment certainly is.

“The driving idea behind this was to connect Furman’s really illustrious humanities professoriate to people when we’re feeling disconnected, using the humanities’ power to heal, to reach audiences within the Furman community and then beyond the Furman community,” Speitz said. “It’s always been very important for us that there wouldn’t be any paywalls and that this could be accessed by anybody.”

To wit, all six lectures are free, open to the public, and available now for viewing on the “Tolle, Lege” website. You can also visit the website to register for the live Q&A sessions, which will be held on the following dates:

“There is a really nice spectrum of topics, from biblical Christian texts to Indian art, and I’m proud that it represents the many different types of varied work that makes Furman such a great place to be faculty and to be a student,” Speitz said.

She noted that her early fears of lack of interest have been assuaged with a surge of signups for the Q&As. “This is kind of beyond our wildest imagination how well this is being received right now.”

Related: Furman University wins award for green buildings

“Tolle, Lege” is a collaboration among Furman faculty representing the departments of English, religion, history, Asian studies, classics, and modern languages and literatures, with support from the Furman Humanities Center and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), under the direction of Nancy Kennedy. The Louis G. Forgione Professor of Classics Chris Blackwell was also instrumental in the process of bringing the lecture series to life.

This article was edited slightly from the original version appearing on the Furman University website.

Clemson Honors Carly Malcolm, Activist on Behalf of Survivors of Sexual Assault, With Sullivan Award

Carly Malcolm has been awarded the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Student Award at Clemson University for demonstrating Mr. Sullivan’s ideals of heart, mind and conduct as evidenced by “generous and unselfish service to others.”

Malcom was one of two students who received the prestigious Sullivan Award. The other student winner was Dina Altwam. The non-student award went to faculty member Dr. Rhondda Robinson Thomas.

Malcolm majored in language and international health, an integrated degree program that combines studies in health sciences and a language (Spanish). She minored in gender, sexuality and women’s studies. Both her major and minor programs are offered in the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities.

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She came to Clemson University from High Point, North Carolina, as one of six National Scholars in 2016. As members of Clemson’s most elite academic merit program, National Scholars receive scholarships that cover tuition, fees and other expenses, in addition to special advising, mentorship and enrichment opportunities, including a funded study-abroad trip after their first year.

Malcolm has combined her interests in health policy and gender equity to improve the Clemson community by addressing issues of sexual assault and domestic violence and support services for survivors. She has gone above and beyond interest and advocacy, taking action on behalf of others, the university stated in a press release.

“Receiving this award is very meaningful to me because it recognizes the importance of improving resources for survivors of sexual violence at Clemson,” Malcolm said. “I have been honored to work alongside many passionate and talented students and staff who are dedicated to serving this community and making Clemson a safer, more equitable environment for all.”

During her time at Clemson, Malcolm was involved in student government, UNICEF and several Honors College programs. She studied in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and visited other cities—such as Durban and Johannesburg—while she was there. In 2018, Malcolm completed a summer internship with the American Public Health Association in Washington. As part of her major, she also studied in Córdoba, Argentina, and completed an internship at a hospital there.

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As a senior, Malcolm took part in a yearlong Creative Inquiry undergraduate research project called “Stories of Refuge, Detention and Hospitality.” In the program led by professors Angela Naimou and Joseph Mai, each student met with someone being held at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, and listened to personal stories about immigration and becoming a refugee. The students later presented their findings at a symposium.

Malcolm said she is especially proud of the work she has done at Clemson as a member of It’s On Us, a student-led movement to end sexual assault on college campuses, and as an interpersonal violence prevention intern in the Office of Access and Equity. As part of her internship, she raised awareness about issues of consent, sexual assault and bystander intervention and helped provide educational programming on those topics.

“As an alumna, I will continue to support the movement to improve survivor resources at Clemson and look forward to seeing the progress that will be made,” Malcolm said.

In the coming months, Malcolm will begin a Lead for North Carolina government fellowship. The program, run by the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill, also a Sullivan Foundation partner school, aims to cultivate the next generation of public service leaders. Malcolm will work with the Register of Deeds office in Guilford County, helping develop a new Community Innovators Lab. She described the project as a creativity incubator for planning, developing and delivering knowledge and resources in her hometown.

Eventually Malcolm plans to pursue a master’s degree in public health.

This article has been edited slightly from the original version appearing on the Clemson University website.