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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Friday, April 18, 2014

Korean Governors Visit EPIC

By Mike Hermann

UNC Charlotte's Energy Production & Infrastructure Center continues to draw admirers form around the world. 

As part of its tour of the southeastern United States, the Governors Association of Korea visited the EPIC building on the UNC Charlotte campus April 16 to learn about energy collaboration at the city and state levels here. 

The visit was arranged by E4 Carolinas and the UNC Charlotte Energy Production and Infrastructure Center. Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter welcomed the group, and other local energy leaders spoke about how Charlotte defines and enacts energy regulations and policy, the creation of EPIC and its role in the industry, and the emergence of the Charlotte region as an energy hub.

Representatives on the Governors Association of Korea included city managers, policy planners, public service officers, executive directors and other civic leaders from a number of Korean town and cities.
Charlotte Mayor Clodfelter addresses Korean governors.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

O.A.S. Visitors See EPIC Innovation

By Paul Nowell

A delegation from the Organization of American States (OAS) recently toured UNC Charlotte’s Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC) as part of a program sponsored by the Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
The program’s overall focus was to provide the delegates insight into Charlotte’s emergence as a global energy capital, which is why city leaders wanted the delegation to visit EPIC. Alexis Gordon, international relations manager for the city of Charlotte, led the tour.
OAS delegation
Visitors from Central and South American get a briefing
 from Prof. David Young.

EPIC was created by UNC Charlotte to prepare highly trained engineers who would be qualified to meet the demands of the energy industry, through traditional and continuing education. In addition EPIC provides sustainable assistance for the Carolinas energy industry by increasing capacity and support for applied research. 
OAS delegates spent time in two of EPIC’s high-tech laboratories. One was the high-bay lab, an advanced testing facility where faculty and students design and test resilient infrastructure systems. They also visited EPIC’s Smart Grid Lab.
“The average age of the engineers working in the field right now is 55 and that means they are getting close to retirement,” he said. “In addition, it takes a different skill set to work in the new technology than what was being taught 20 years ago.”
EPIC is a highly collaborative industry/education partnership that produces a technical workforce, advancements in technology for the global energy industry while supporting the Carolinas’ multi-state economic and energy security.
The U.S. Department of Commerce through the International Trade Administration and the Economic Development Administration in collaboration with the Inter-American Competitiveness network arranged for the OAS visit, which included about 51 delegates from several OAS countries.
The delegates are considered “gatekeepers” in their home countries who can make economic development happen. They included vice ministers, private sector leaders, mayors, heads of major universities and leaders of regional economic development partnership groups.
Chip Yensan, associate director for infrastructure at the Charlotte Research Institute, briefed the delegation on UNC Charlotte’s latest facility, PORTAL.  Both EPIC and the PORTAL building are located on the University’s Charlotte Research Institute campus.
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Paul Nowell is media relations manager in the Office of Public Relations.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Campus Visits are Better than Ever

Students may notice a new set of wheels traveling on campus roads this spring. Two new shuttle buses, wrapped with the UNC Charlotte logo and "VISIT. LIVE IT. LOVE IT." now tour campus daily, as the undergraduate admissions campus visit program expands its daily tours of campus.
New buses augment walking tours for prospective students, families.
Each year, about 9,000 students and their families tour the UNC Charlotte campus, and this visit experience is the primary decision-making factor that influences the student’s decision to apply or enroll. "As the campus has grown, so has our visit program," says Claire Kirby, director of undergraduate admissions. "We wanted to be able to show our visiting prospective students and their families more of the campus, which we were unable to do with a walking-only tour."
The two new buses, which seat 48 people and one which offers handicapped accessibility, will allow our visitors to complete their campus tour to include a view of the football stadium and CRI, then to South Village to view residence halls.
Students who sign up for a campus visit will begin their experience with a 30-minute presentation about admission requirements from an admissions counselor. After the presentation, groups of families are paired up with "Niner Guides," student volunteers who walk the families through the central part of campus to the Student Union. "The Niner Guides add their personal student experiences on this portion of the tour while they explain what classes or programs are held in each of the campus buildings," adds Kirby. "This current student perspective adds a personal touch to the campus tour, and helps prospective students and their families gain a real understanding of whether UNC Charlotte would be a good fit for them."
After the walking portion of the tour, these families will hop aboard the new shuttle buses and tour the outskirts of campus, giving them a more complete view of our growing campus.
The daily campus visit program is offered Monday through Friday, and select Saturday mornings. Reservations are required and can be made online.
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Health & Human Services Study: Housing Program Helps Save Lives, Money

By Latricia Boone

A Charlotte-based permanent supportive housing program is finding success in its efforts to improve stability for chronically homeless individuals while also helping the community to save money, according to a report from  UNC Charlotte’s College of Health and Human Services.
The report “Moore Place Permanent Support Housing Evaluation Study” examined the Moore Place housing program and how it is supporting individuals struggling with the devastating effects of homelessness, especially those suffering from disabling conditions such as mental illness, addiction and physical health issues. 
Moore Place
Social work assistant professor Lori Thomas led the evaluation team that studied the impact of the Moore Place program on the housing, clinical and social stability of its tenants and on their emergency room and jail utilization. The team, which included experts from the UNC Greensboro, N.C. A&T State University and the University of South Carolina, concluded that Moore Place has succeeded in maintaining a high housing stability rate for its clients. The report also found that the program helped to reduce inappropriate service utilization in hospitals and jails among its tenants -- alleviating a burden on law enforcement and emergency health services.
With 85 apartments, Moore Place is the centerpiece of the Urban Ministry Center’s HousingWorks program. It is based on a philosophy that housing homeless individuals first stabilizes their lives and provides the foundation for successful outcomes.  Since opening in early 2012, Moore Place has provided permanent housing and comprehensive support services to individuals with extensive histories of homelessness and a disabling condition, such as behavioral health disorders, chronic health conditions, physical disabilities and developmental disabilities. Moore Place is the first in the Charlotte area to operate using the “Housing First” philosophy.
Lori Thomas
 “’Housing First’ is ending homelessness for some of Charlotte’s most vulnerable,” Thomas said. “This study adds to a growing body of research that suggests that even the hardest to serve in our communities can be successfully housed and that housing with necessary supportive services not only leads to better outcomes for individuals but is cheaper for the community.”
Overall, the study found:
  • Moore Place tenants are dealing with challenges that surpass the vulnerability of those in comparable programs nationally
  • Moore Place is demonstrating high housing stability rates after one year of housing
  • Area hospital bills, emergency room visits, and lengths of hospitalizations have decreased during tenants’ first year of housing at Moore Place.  There was a 78% reduction in emergency room visits and a 79% reduction in in-patient hospitalizations, resulting in a 70% reduction ($1.8 million) in hospital bills in just one year
  • Arrests and jail stays of Moore Place tenants decreased during their first year in the program. There was a 78% reduction in arrests and 84% reduction in jail stays
Another outcome reported by Moore Place tenants was greater social support among friends, as compared to their circumstances prior to entering the program.
According to the evaluation team, the newly released findings are part of an intermediate phase of the research project. The final phase will continue to document the housing stability of tenants, as well as clinical, social and community impact that may be further associated with the program in tenants’ second year of residency.
Moore Place is owned and operated by the Urban Ministry Center, an interfaith organization that provides an array of services to meet the needs of Charlotte’s homeless population. Later this year, the Moore Place project is slated to expand by an additional 35 units of housing for the chronically homeless.
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Latricia Boone is communications director for the College of Health & Human Services.