Monday, November 17, 2014

Musical luncheon feted "Wayfaring Strangers" authors

By Phillip Brown

Fiona Ritchie and Doug Orr.
The UNC Charlotte Alumni Association and Jim Woodward, chancellor emeritus, hosted “Wayfaring Strangers: A Musical Luncheon with Fiona Ritchie and Doug Orr” on  Nov. 14, at Byron’s South End in Charlotte.

Authors Ritchie and Orr guide the reader on a musical voyage across oceans to capture the stories of the people, the times and the music that many Scots-Irish immigrants brought to the United States.

Born and raised in Scotland, Ritchie attended the University of Stirling. In the 1980s, she accepted an invitation to spend a semester at UNC Charlotte to work as a teaching assistant in the Psychology Department. During her time in Charlotte, she volunteered at WFAE-FM. At the time, the University held the license for the station. She approached station managers with an idea for a new show featuring traditional Celtic and folk music from her native Scotland, Ireland and the rest of the British Isles. More than 30 years later, one can still find her National Public Radio weekly show “The Thistle & Shamrock” on nearly 400 stations around the world.


Orr (with guitar) and Ritchie (middle) perform at a luncheon in the honor.



Orr, a vice chancellor at UNC Charlotte when Ritchie was here, later became president of Warren Wilson College near Asheville; he also founded the Swannanoa Gathering music workshops. Orr, who shared a passion for Celtic and folk music, remained close friends with Ritchie during the years, and the two collaborated on “Wayfaring Strangers.”

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Education major Jameka Parker honored for community service

UNC Charlotte senior Jameka Parker has been recognized for outstanding leadership and service by North Carolina Campus Compact, a statewide network of colleges and universities that are committed to community engagement. Parker is a recipient of the network’s Community Impact Student Award, which honors one student leader at each member school.

Parker is one of 18 students across the state to receive the 2014 award, joining more than 200 college students honored by the organization since the award was first presented in 2006.

A pre-service teacher majoring in Middle Grades Education with a minor in Urban Youth and Communities, Parker believes deeply in service learning, both as a civic obligation and as meaningful pedagogy. As a part of her Community Engagement Capstone, Parker started a girls dance troupe in a high poverty middle school with a curriculum focused on academic achievement, mentoring, and self-esteem.  Using the fundamentals of participatory action research, she conducted a needs assessment with students and teachers. The resulting program couples dance, academic support, and mentoring during a special period in the school day. Parker recruited fellow UNC Charlotte students to implement the curriculum, which improved student attitudes and school success. Parker is from Fayetteville, N.C.

Dr. Susan Harden, an assistant professor of Education at UNC Charlotte, nominated Parker for the award. “Jameka really ‘gets’ service learning,” Harden says. “She will make a wonderful teacher who knows how to use this pedagogy in her own classroom.”

Parker and other award winners will be honored at North Carolina Campus Compact’s annual student conference on November 8 at N.C. State University in Raleigh. Now in its 21st year, the 2014 conference will convene 180 student leaders from 25 campuses in 5 states, offering participants a slate of workshops focused on leadership best practices and community issues.

North Carolina Campus Compact is a collaborative network of colleges and universities with a shared commitment to educating engaged citizens and strengthening communities. Guided by an executive board of presidents and chancellors, the Compact supports member schools through professional development and resources related to civic and community engagement. The Compact was founded in 2002 and is hosted by Elon University.


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Monday, October 6, 2014

39th International Festival live streamed to the world

By Jared Moon

New audiences became aware of UNC Charlotte’s International Festival through a collaborative effort between the Office of International Programs and the Office of University Communications.
A live webcast, portions of which were viewed by roughly 825 people in the United States and more than 150 internationally, highlighted the festival activities, and a segment produced by professionals from the Office of University Communications aired on UNC-TV’s “N.C. Now” prior to the festival. The office also promoted the festival through Inside UNC Charlotte, the University’s home page and the marquee at the front entrance to campus.
In addition, University communications broadcast and public relations staff pre-produced a number of segments involving UNC Charlotte’s international students that were aired during the five-hour live webcast of the International Festival. Faculty members from the Department of Languages and Culture Studies also provided translated verbiage for the webcast that was appropriate for audiences in target countries.
 “The festival serves as a representation of the larger and broader internationalization efforts of our campus,” said Joël Gallegos, assistant provost for International Programs. “It’s really our opportunity to highlight our students coming from around the world and to highlight the various cultures that are represented not only on our campus but in the Charlotte community.”
The coordinated efforts of the University Communications Office enabled greater numbers of people in the Charlotte region and around the state to learn more about UNC Charlotte’s globalization efforts, which was a goal for the collaboration.
University Communications’ Web communications staff utilized social media to distribute festival information to a number of nations; posts received from around the world during the festival were incorporated into the webcast.
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Jared Moon is the communications coordinator in the Office of Public Relations.

Early college high school gets ribbon-cutting

By Jared Moon
UNC Charlotte recently hosted a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Charlotte Engineering Early College (CEEC); the event coincided with on-campus meetings by the N.C. State Board of Education.
University, local and state leaders talked about how the CEEC was an example of innovative, educational concepts that have increased in popularity across North Carolina.
Chancellor Philip L. Dubois, who spoke at the ribbon cutting, noted, “Like most things in Charlotte, great ideas come about as the result of collaboration and teamwork. The idea for a high school with a focus on engineering and energy came to us from Jeff Corbett of Duke Energy. He brought the folks from North Carolina New Schools into the picture, and, soon, we were on our way with an exciting collaborative concept, coupled with commitment, enthusiasm and energy.”
Bill Cobey, chairman of the State Board of Educations, and Heath Morrison, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools superintendent, also gave remarks at the ceremony.
The N.C. State Board of Education held its fall planning retreat Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at UNC Charlotte, along with monthly meeting Thursday, Oct. 2; the Office of University Communications provide a streaming webcast of the meeting.
The board holds monthly meetings in various settings across the state in order to engage and interact with the communities and projects it supports and oversees, according to officials. After its Thursday meeting, education board members toured CEEC.
CEEC’s first class is comprised of 100 ninth-graders, and as Dubois noted, “We want these students to benefit from the school’s proximity to and engagement with UNC Charlotte. Namely the students in the William States Lee College of Engineering, our teacher education candidates in the College of Education, our Center from STEM Education, as well as faculty, research centers and industry partners.”
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Jared Moon is the communications coordinator in the Office of Public Relations.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Kyle White: A Hero Among Us

By Stephen Ward

On one hand, Kyle White, '13, has taken his place among the hundreds of returning military veterans who have advanced their futures at UNC Charlotte.  That's in our university's DNA since its post-World War II founding to serve vets under the GI Bill. 
Kyle White at UNC Charlotte Center City

UNC Charlotte's founder, Bonnie Cone, would proudly call Kyle one of her 'Bonnie's Boys' for achieving his degree in finance in the Belk College of Business and beginning his career in financial services here in Charlotte with the Royal Bank of Canada. 

But Kyle also recently received a distinction that stands out from nearly all other men and women who have served in our armed forces. He was  awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama. He became just the seventh living recipient of this, the nation's highest military honor, from the war in Afghanistan.

You can see photos, maps and read the story of the ambush near Aranas, Afghanistan, at the official MOH Web site. You can also watch Kyle on the video below.


Moving forward, Kyle says he wants to be an advocate for the men and women in uniform who will continue to come home from the Middle East and elsewhere, to help them understand the opportunities the current GI Bill provides them, and to urge them to pursue the best possible university educations. In Kyle's case, that was what he found at UNC Charlotte. A Seattle-native turned Charlottean. An American hero who is also a Niner.

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Stephen Ward is executive director of university communications.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Medal of Honor recipient is UNC Charlotte graduate

By Phillip Brown
Edited by John Bland

On June 20, the University of North Carolina Board of Governors recognized Kyle White (’13) on his being awarded the Medal of Honor.

During the BOG’s regular monthly meeting, White was presented a special commendation from the board. UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois gave White a 49ers football signed by head coach Brad Lambert.

Kyle White accepts a 49ers football from Chancellor Dubois
According to White, his goal as a Medal of Honor recipient is to work with returning service members to inform them of their educational opportunities through the GI bill.

“I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to work on this… Maybe I can go to bases and start talking to people about their benefits,” said White, who completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Currently, he is an investment analyst with RBC (Royal Canadian Bank) in Charlotte.

White  was awarded the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony on May 13, becoming the seventh living recipient to be awarded the medal for service in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Kyle White (center) accepts a resolution from the
 UNC Board of Governors. He is pictured with Chancellor Dubois
(far left), UNC Pres. Tom Ross (far right) and other UNC officials.
White, of Bonney Lake, Wash., earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University in fall 2013; he entered UNC Charlotte in fall 2011 after separating from the U.S. Army. Currently, he works as a financial analyst with RBC (Royal Canadian Bank) in Charlotte.

According to the Seattle Times, in 2007 White was as serving as a radiotelephone operator when his team of 14 U.S. soldiers, along with Afghan National Army soldiers, was ambushed at a meeting with village elders in Aranas, Afghanistan.

 During the attack, White was knocked unconscious by a rocket-propelled grenade that landed near him, according to the Stars and Stripes. “When he woke up, 10 of the 14-man American element and the ANA soldiers were gone. To avoid the enemy fire, they had been forced to slide 150 feet down the side of a rocky cliff.

“White noticed that his teammate, Spc. Kain Schilling, had been shot in the arm. After White and Schilling found cover under a tree, White put a tourniquet on Schilling and stopped the bleeding. Then White saw Marine Sgt. Phillip Bocks lying out in the open, badly wounded.

“White sprinted 30 feet across open ground under a hail of bullets to reach Bocks. White made four runs out in to the open to drag Bocks out of the line of fire. He succeeded, but Bocks eventually succumbed to his wounds. Soon afterward, Schilling got hit in the leg by small-arms fire. White again saved his life, using his belt as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.

“Then White noticed his platoon leader, 1st Lt. Matthew C. Ferrara, lying face-down on the trail, motionless. White again exposed himself to fire and crawled to Ferrara's position. After he realized Ferrara was already dead, White returned to Schilling’s side and began using his radio, until an enemy round blew the hand-mic out of his hand and disabled the radio. White grabbed Bocks’ radio and used it to bring in mortars, artillery, air strikes and helicopter gun runs to keep the enemy at bay. Friendly fire gave him his second concussion of the day when a mortar round landed too close and knocked him off his feet.

“After nightfall, White marked the landing zone and assisted the flight medic in hoisting the wounded Americans and Afghans into the helicopter. White would not allow himself to be evacuated until everyone else was in a position to leave.”


The Seattle Times printed a 2008 statement from White’s battalion commander Lt. Col. William Ostlund that stated “During a long dark night, Spc. White’s uncommon valor and perseverance saved lives… Extraordinary and consistently selfless actions by a young paratrooper.”

White has been a guest on the UNC Charlotte campus and a television and video segment produced during his visit will appear on an upcoming edition of UNC TV's "North Carolina Now" show.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Russian-speaking student learns lessons of humanity

Lauren Klein, a UNC Charlotte student, Department of Languages and Culture Studies, has been chosen as a winner of the United Nations Academic Impact “Many Languages, One World” contest. 

From among 1,500 contests, 60 students were chosen to represent each of the six official languages of the United Nations—Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.  Together with the other contest winners, Klein will travel to New York to participate in a four-day Global Youth Forum and present her work to the United Nations. 

Lauren Klein
Lauren, who has just completed her fourth semester of Russian language, was selected as one of 10 representatives of Russian.  In order to be selected, she had to first demonstrate written proficiency in Russian in the form of a 1,000 word essay and then demonstrate spoken proficiency by undergoing an oral interview in Russian.  In her essay, Lauren addresses the question of the relationship of multilingualism to global citizenship by drawing on her family’s history and her own personal experiences with languages learning.  

Compelled by a love of Russian literature, particularly the works of Vladimir Nabokov, whom she quotes in her essay, Klein began to study Russian independently at the age of 16.  To her dismay, however, she encountered adverse attitudes towards Russian in her family, which stemmed from events of the past.  Unbeknownst to her until recently, Lauren’s maternal great-grandparents fled the Russian Empire for Canada as Jewish refugees at the beginning of the 20th century.  Yet these harrowing circumstances only amplified the importance of Russian for Klein. 

In her view, studying another language increases humanity, respect, and understanding between people of different cultural backgrounds.  The United Nations contest has been a great opportunity for Klein to connect with native speakers of Russian, from her UNC Charlotte professor Yuliya Baldwin, who worked closely with Klein throughout the process, to other teachers and students in the United States and in Russia who generously helped her improve her Russian language skills.  

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