School of Health and Human Sciences

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CLASS OF 2020

We caught up with some of our inspiring HHS graduates in each of our nine departments and programs. This is what they had to say about finding UNC Greensboro, their accomplishments, research, and plans for the future:

COMMUNICATION SCIENCES & DISORDERS

Jessica ThomasJessica Thompson

Hometown: Manchester, MD
Degree: Bachelor of Science (minor: sociology)

Why UNCG?

I chose UNCG because of proximity to family, but ended up being so thankful to be at one of only a few North Carolina universities to offer a degree in communication sciences and disorders.

Proudest accomplishment at UNCG?

Graduating magna cum laude as a mom of two young girls and pregnant with my third. It was a lot to juggle!

What has been unique about the support and mentorship you have received?

The professors were always available to answer any questions, both personal and professional. Applying to graduate school is very stressful and uncertain, but I received a lot of help and encouragement with my graduate school application materials. My professors took the time to review my resume and personal letter, direct me towards other resources, and make sure I was prepared for the application process. Also, through conversations with professors, I was able to further explore the speech and language pathology field to expand my interests. I also really appreciate that the professors were so open about their experiences in the field which really showed me this is a profession I want to be a part of.

What are your plans after graduation? How has UNCG prepared you?

I am so excited to say that I have been accepted to UNCG’s speech language pathology graduate program starting this fall! My undergraduate experience has prepared me through having high expectations but also great mentorship. I learned that this field is dynamic and expansive and that I always need to look for more information. I am confident that this will continue through my graduate education and prepare me to be a licensed speech language pathologist when I graduate.

Dr. Mariam Abdelaziz, MA, CCC-SLPMariam Abdelaziz

Hometown: Cairo, Egypt
Degree: Doctor of Philosophy

Why UNCG?

I attended UNCG for my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. In that time, I was very involved in opportunities within the CSD department and got to know the faculty well. After graduate school, I worked clinically in the public schools for two years. In that time, I continued to keep in touch with some of the faculty in my department. I always felt supported and welcomed, which encouraged me to apply to the PhD program.

Proudest accomplishment at UNCG?

Collectively, I’ve spent 10 years at UNCG. I have definitely grown up here, so it’s hard to pick just one accomplishment! As an undergraduate, getting into the masters’ program was definitely a huge accomplishment. The program is really competitive and hundreds of students apply. I applied to multiple programs, but UNCG was my number 1 choice. In my current program, I would say defending my dissertation, which was over a year and a half process, is my proudest accomplishment!

Explain your research

Within my field, I am interested in language and literacy development in school-age children. I have investigated the relationship of morphological knowledge (knowledge of word parts, such as prefixes) and reading. My dissertation focused on Education Professionals’ spelling-related linguistic knowledge as well as their instructional and collaborative practice. I am also really passionate about multicultural topics within the field of CSD. I completed a state-level (NC) and national study examining speech-language pathologists’ (SLPs) culturally responsive assessment practices with English learners. I am currently the Principal Investigator of a study examining the experiences of CSD students from underrepresented backgrounds. The purpose of the two latter studies is to increase CSD professionals’ cultural responsivity when working with diverse populations.

What is unique about the support and mentorship you have received at UNCG?

I feel very fortunate for the mentorship I have received during my time at UNCG. The faculty at UNCG, particularly in the CSD department, are so supportive. Their investment in me has shaped me both personally and professionally. My professors have encouraged me to pursue opportunities at local, national, and international levels. All of these experiences have encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone and seek opportunities that allow me to give back to the profession.I know that I will always be able to reach out to my professors after leaving UNCG.

What are your plans after graduation? How has UNCG prepared you?

After graduating, I am looking forward to taking a break! After that, I will begin working at a university in Southwest Virginia. UNCG, particularly my advisor, has given me many opportunities to cultivate my teaching skills, which will be invaluable moving forward. I’ve also learned to work on a collaborative team with professionals in and outside of my field through opportunities on committees in and outside the School of Health and Human Sciences and UNCG.

COMMUNITY & THERAPEUTIC RECREATION

Maurice “Jordan” BarnettMaurice Jordan Bennett

Hometown: Gastonia, NC
Degree: Bachelor of Science (concentration: community recreation and event planning; minor: African American Studies)

Why UNCG?

I chose UNCG because of the uniqueness and diversity of the student population and the endless opportunities to be positively involved in the student community.

Proudest accomplishment at UNCG?

My proudest accomplishment at UNCG came recently, when I started my own youth basketball program at the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Greensboro and worked hard to provide over 45 kids with brand-new custom jerseys and shoes. I had a foundation started for the program in my name. There was a banner in the gym with my name on it to showcase my efforts.

During this internship, Jordan received a $10,000 sponsorship from New York Life to purchase new jerseys and equipment for the organization’s basketball program. As the leader of this program, Jordan has partnered with the Greensboro Swarm and the UNC Chapel Hill basketball team to bring recognition to his organization and the youth basketball participants. For his efforts, Jordan has received honors as the Boys and Girls Club of Greensboro Employee of the Year.

What has been unique about the support and mentorship you have received at UNCG?

There was never a time where I couldn’t reach out to any of my professors for resources or guidance to be a successful student. The same professors helped me find my purpose at UNCG and helped me establish many things that I am passionate about in my everyday life. We are truly a family in the CTR department.

What are your plans after graduation? How has UNCG prepared you?

I plan to continue working at the Boys and Girls Club of Greensboro and give back to the same community that pushed me to be who I am today. I want to continue making a positive difference in children’s lives more than anything. UNCG has taught me everything I know about recreation management from working at the Kaplan Center for three years, and of course, being a student of the CTR department, which specified the huge value of leisure and recreation in an individual’s life. I also discovered my huge passion for giving back through the service projects and the internship I had as a CTR student. Seeing people in need benefit off of the work I put in is the most rewarding feeling ever.

Hannah LanzillottaHannah lunzillota

Hometown: Originally from Cincinnati, OH, but Graham, NC, is home
Degree: Master of Science (parks and recreation management)

Why UNCG?

As a staff member here, I knew UNCG would be a great place to learn in addition to working. One of the aspects I really looked forward to was the ability to relate my work at UNCG to my academic career.

Hannah joined the Department of Recreation and Wellness (RecWell) at Kaplan Center in 2017 as their Special Events Coordinator, after completing her bachelor of science in exercise science at Elon University.

Proudest accomplishment at UNCG?

Honestly, being able to complete my master’s degree in two years, while working a full-time job. I think this speaks to the faculty’s ability to be flexible and support students with a variety of situations and lifestyles.

Explain your research

I completed research as my field project. I surveyed members of the Leonard J. Kaplan Center for Wellness to see whether their preference level for weightlifting impacts how they feel (their affect) after weightlifting.

What has been unique about the support and mentorship you have received?

I was clear with my advisor that I was working full time and still wanted to complete my degree in two years. I knew it would be challenging, but he worked with me to make sure I could succeed. He helped me to find summer courses and to fit my field project in a short timeframe by allowing me to work on some aspects early. I also received a ton of support from my supervisor and director in the Department of Recreation and Wellness. They really supported me and encouraged me throughout my degree.

What are your plans after graduation? How has UNCG prepared you?

I plan to still work with UNCG students in my current position at RecWell.

GENETIC COUNSELING

Laura BulmerLaura Bulmer

Hometown: Damascus, MD
Degree: Master of Science

Why UNCG?

I chose UNCG because of the at-home feeling I had when I first visited campus during my graduate school interview. I chose the genetic counseling program here because of the program leadership in Lauren Doyle and Randi Stewart. During my interview, it was clear that they put their students first and create the kind of welcoming, supportive environment I was searching for. That has been true throughout my two years at UNCG, and I couldn’t be happier that I chose to come here.

Proudest accomplishment at UNCG?

I am most proud of the personal and professional growth I have experienced during my time at UNCG. Grad school has been two of the most academically and emotionally challenging years of my life, but also the most rewarding. The work I’ve done has helped me gain confidence in my professional abilities as well as a deeper understanding of myself. I am very proud of that and thankful to my program leaders for helping me through that process.

Explain your research

My capstone research project explored self-awareness among genetic counseling students. The study assessed current levels of self-awareness in students and current practices used by genetic counseling programs to promote self-awareness, such as self-care, reflection, and mindfulness.

What has been unique about the support and mentorship you have received?

Through the support and mentorship of the genetic counseling program leadership, I have always felt like a person first, student second. I was consistently amazed and appreciative of the unconditional support they provided and the intentional steps taken to ensure we grew as individuals alongside our professional development.

What are your plans after graduation? How has UNCG prepared you?

After graduation, I will be starting a job as a prenatal genetic counselor at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. UNCG has prepared me for this role through a very comprehensive education, including research experience, clinical rotations, and coursework. In addition to the clinical skills necessary to be a successful genetic counselor, I have also learned how to navigate new environments and find the resources I need to succeed in a new job. I feel confident in my abilities and well-prepared to start this next chapter because of my time with the UNCG Genetic Counseling program.

Sarah Burzynski

Sarah BurzynskiHometown: Fairport, NY
Degree: Master of Science

Why UNCG?

I chose UNCG because I immediately felt connected to my program leadership. I also appreciated the unique opportunities that were available to genetic counseling students such as getting to pursue rotations across the state at multiple sites, participating in specialty clinics, and experiences outside of the classroom to meet families impacted by genetic conditions.

Proudest accomplishment at UNCG?

My proudest accomplishment is completing my capstone project. This was my first time serving as a principal investigator for a project, so I am proud to have worked on this project at all stages of development with the support of my program and committee.

Explain your research

My capstone project explored genetic counseling experiences for parents and counselors in a prenatal setting. Specifically, we wanted to explore questions about sex, gender, or sexual orientation that parents have posed following results that indicate sex chromosome differences (called sex chromosome aneuploidies) in their pregnancy. We aimed for our results to inform counseling approaches for these conditions and to inform respectful strategies when discussing concepts of sex, gender, and sexual orientation in practice.

What has been unique about the support and mentorship you have received?

What strikes me most about the support I have received at UNCG is that support is not limited to the classroom. UNCG program support fostered my growth as a graduate student, clinician, professional, and person. I felt invested and believed in, which pushed me to take risks, challenge myself, and ultimately get to where I am today.

What are your plans after graduation? How has UNCG prepared you?

I will be working in Atlanta, Georgia, as a full-time genetic counselor, in a multidisciplinary setting, including cancer, prenatal, cardiology, and adult genetics. Through my UNCG coursework in genetics, counseling, and ethics, my clinical work, and my volunteer experiences, I feel well prepared to serve the wide variety of patients that I will see at this clinic.

HUMAN DEVELOPMENT & FAMILY STUDIES

Aliyah Janeen Aal-anubiaAliya Janeen

Hometown: Raleigh, NC
Major: Bachelor of Science (birth-kindergarten teaching licensure)
Campus clubs/memberships: President, Collaborative of HDFS Professionals 2019-2020

Why UNCG?

I chose UNCG because of how open and warm the environment felt. I also chose UNCG because of reading up on the department. One final reason I chose UNCG is because of its diversity.

Proudest accomplishment at UNCG?

My proudest accomplishment at UNCG is personal growth. In the beginning, I was reserved and not as interested in getting involved. Throughout my years, I am proud of how much I have grown and the opportunities that opened up for me because of that growth.

Explain your research

I was a research assistant for the research project, “The Benefits and Challenges to Team Teaching in an Early Childhood Interdisciplinary Program.” The birth-kindergarten program is interdisciplinary with HDFS and the UNCG School of Education’s Specialized Education Services (SES), with many classes team-taught with an instructor from HDFS, SES, or graduate assistants and family members who have a child with a disability.

What has been unique about the support and mentorship you have received?

The unique part about the support and mentorship I have received is the genuine care that the school of HHS and my department specifically have given. If I had a question or concern, the support was always helpful. If that person didn’t have the answer, they helped to find someone who did. Support at UNCG has also been unique for that same thing. Being in a department program that is interdisciplinary has allowed for me to receive unique support and mentorship from both departments. I find it unique to receive mentorship and support within the school of HHS, where individuals help you be your best self.

What are your plans after graduation? How has UNCG prepared you?

I will teach in the Wake County Public Schools system as a pre-k or kindergarten teacher. I have signed an early contract for the Future Teachers of Wake County program. UNCG has prepared me a lot for these plans through my courses that taught about best practices, observation methods, the importance or person-first language and inclusion, courses that required collaboration, various practicum experiences, and student teaching.

Dr. Marta Benito-GomezMarta Benito Gomez

Hometown: La Coruña, Galicia, Spain
Degree: Doctor of Philosophy (minor: Educational Research Methods)

Why UNCG?

UNCG is a campus full of opportunities both in terms of personal and professional growth.

Proudest accomplishment at UNCG?

Winning the 2018 Outstanding Thesis-Production Award by UNCG and successfully defending my dissertation this year.

Explain your research

My research activities during my time at UNCG focused on understanding how family and peer contexts influence children’s and early adolescents’ adjustment and the extent to which children’s physiological responses to stress place them at increased risk for maladjustment.

What has been unique about the support and mentorship you have received?

I have received support in every step of the way from my Master’s to my PhD. Faculty and staff are always willing to help and guide you and the School of Health and Human Sciences have all the resources students need to succeed in their programs.

What are your plans after graduation? How has UNCG prepared you?

I will be starting a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Delaware next June. I will be working on a large new clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health focusing on the implementation and examination of the effects of the Attachment Biobehavioral Catch-Up intervention with opioid-dependent mothers and their infants. I will also be working with the dissemination efforts team training and supervising the intervention. UNCG has prepared me by helping gain the research experience and skills I need to be a competent and successful applicant after completing my program.

KINESIOLOGY

Britt Lane DixonBritt Dixon

Hometown: Great Falls, MT
Degree: Bachelor of Science
Campus clubs: Kinesiology Club
Memberships: National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Student Veterans of America

Britt is currently deployed with the Army National Guard in support of COVID-19.

Why UNCG?

I chose UNCG because I wanted to live somewhere completely different than I’ve ever been. I had never stepped foot in North Carolina, but I decided to pack up my life and drive cross-country by myself to move to Greensboro and attend UNCG!

Proudest Accomplishment at UNCG?

My proudest accomplishment while at UNCG is managing to graduate with honors despite being deployed for weeks, sometimes months at a time, almost every single semester.

Explain your research

I aided Dr. Donna Duffy in her research focused on female athletes and concussion. This research experience has helped provide me with essential reasoning skills and will help me begin to perfect the scientific method, which is essential for a clinical kinesiologist.

What has been unique about the support and mentorship you have received?

The most unique aspect about the support and mentorship I received within the HHS department (specifically kinesiology) has been the continuous support and encouragement I’ve personally received from almost all of my professors. Dr. Aaron Terranova has been a huge supporter of me, and has always helped me to stay on track and inspired regardless of my trials. Dr. Donna Duffy has taught me a lot about hard work and integrity within the clinical setting, and she has always been loving and supportive to me. Dr. Alan Goldfarb was a mentor to me more than anyone. He pushed me beyond what I knew I was capable of, and encouraged me through tough love. There are so many more faculty that have pushed me, and cheered me on during my time as a UNCG undergraduate student, and I am forever grateful for my Kinesiology family.

What are your plans after graduation? How has UNCG prepared you?

I have several plans for myself after I graduate from UNCG. My immediate goal is to finish up remaining pre-requisite requirements for physical therapy school. I aspire to attend Winston-Salem State University. I am supposed to deploy overseas at the end of 2021, so I am hoping to start PT school the following year. Lastly, I started my own personal training business this January, and I aspire to continue growing it! I absolutely love being a personal trainer, and it will always be my first love. My time at UNCG has helped mold me into an even more disciplined and motivated woman, which consequently will aid me in my professional future. At times, I genuinely thought I could not finish school due to the stress of juggling school work, working, military obligations, being a mother, and the trials life decided to throw my way.  Despite the tribulations, UNCG was always there for me, and I rediscovered my passion for learning. I will be forever grateful for my time here!

Dr. Amanda DurallAmanda Durall

Hometown: Chattanooga, TN
Degree: Doctor of Education

Amanda was recently featured in this article, along with her EdD in kinesiology cohort, discussing the “unforgettable” experience of defending her dissertation from the backseat of her minivan. 

Why UNCG?

I work full time, and I needed a program that was online. However, I wanted a program that was field-specific. That search led me to UNCG. I knew their on-ground doctorate programs had a strong reputation, and I felt confident pursuing my online degree knowing that.

Explain your research

My research focuses on health disparities in adults with intellectual disabilities – namely physical activity, but I see this transitioning into bigger public health concerns such as access to healthcare, equitable healthcare and community based interventions for this group. My dissertation examined an experiential (hands-on) course I created where students developed and implemented recreation programs for adults with ID. The goal was to see if their attitudes toward this population changed as a result of their work. Students worked in teams of 2 and were assigned a site in our local community where they went three times a week for 10 weeks to offer recreation. Students were surveyed, but they also wrote reflections and participated in a focus group. As a result of the time they spent with this population, their attitudes and confidence levels in working with this group improved.

What experience has been the most impactful during your tenure at UNCG?

I think going through a doctoral program really has a transformative effect on how you view your profession and how you intend to use the opportunity you had to serve others. Over the course of the four years, I think most impactful were the opportunities I had for reflection in many of my courses – to develop personal philosophies on teaching, to create projects around my research interests, and ultimately to become a better educator.

Any challenges you faced and had to overcome?

The biggest challenge was being pregnant during my fourth year. Toward the end of my pregnancy, I had to be hospitalized a week and a half for monitoring because one of the twins wasn’t growing as she should. That ultimately resulted in the girls arriving 2 months early and spending some time in the NICU. I was coding data and writing – first from my hospital bed and then in between NICU visits. (The girls are both home and doing great now!)

What are your plans for the future?

To continue my disability-focused research both locally and regionally. Thankfully, I have a great community partner who has been instrumental in helping me flesh all my ideas out. I also hope to develop more experiential courses for our department and at least add more experiential components to the courses that I currently teach. Oh, and to figure out how to get my twins to sleep through the night.

NUTRITION

Dejuan Mooredejuan moore

Hometown: Selma, NC
Degree: Bachelor of Science (concentration: human nutrition and dietetics)

Why UNCG?

I chose UNCG because I knew that it would be the challenge that I needed to help me become the professional that I aspire to be. I know that the nutrition program is rigorous, and if I could thrive in the program, I would be able to be a dietitian that could help people change their lives and become healthy for themselves and their families.

Proudest accomplishment at UNCG?

My proudest moment at UNCG stemmed from one of my least proud moments at UNCG. While being a nutrition student, our program is grounded in being professional, and I applied for a scholarship at the last minute. I was not proud of the lack of professionalism that I showed; however, two of my professors submitted letters of recommendation on my behalf in the middle of the night. It showed me that they saw how much I wanted to be a part of this program and how much effort I was putting in to striving in the nutrition department. I learned that if you keep working, stay positive, and reach for your goals, UNCG would help provide the resources and support you need to succeed.

What has been unique about the support and mentorship you have received?

The support that I have received has been one of the main reasons that I have been able to reach this point. As a husband and a father, I not only had responsibilities to be at the University, but to provide for my family as well. There were many times that I felt I would not be able to meet the demand of working, being a father, a husband, and being a part of such a demanding program, but my professors made sure that I remembered that I was doing this to help my community and my family. By reminding me of the impact that I could make in my community, it inspired me to not give up when studying got tough.

What are your plans after graduation? How has UNCG prepared you?

My goal after graduation is to complete my dietetic internship and master’s degree in the field of Nutrition. I would also like to become a registered dietitian and use my degree in nutrition and dietetics and my degree in exercise science and fitness management to work with chronically ill populations to implement healthy eating practices and exercise routines that will be able to improve the lives of those fighting illnesses such as diabetes, kidney disease, and hypertension. UNCG prepared me for this by giving me the resources to learn and prepare my mind for the information that I would need to learn in order to be an influence on my community. As a student in the nutrition department, you are not only taught things that we can use to help others, we are taught how to acquire the knowledge that we need to influence our community. I know I have the confidence to show people what I know and how I can be an impact in their life because of the support and love of everyone at UNCG.

Megan Rivenburgmegan rivinbourg

Hometown: Fairfield, CT, and Charlotte, NC
Degree: Master of Science
Campus clubs/memberships: GSA, NGSA

Why UNCG?

When I was in my senior year of undergrad, I decided I wanted to get my master’s degree in nutrition. I had a conversation with my nutrition professor there (Wake Forest University) who knew the nutrition faculty at UNCG and couldn’t recommend the program enough. I talked with Professor (Laurie) Allen and Dr. (Jigna) Dharod before making my decision to apply and they both made me feel welcome and like it was the right place for me.

Proudest accomplishment at UNCG?

I have grown so much personally, academically, and professionally throughout my time at UNCG. My proudest accomplishment is that I have established my voice in nutrition and truly wake up each morning excited to share and educate. My favorite thing in the world is when I share something that shifts someone’s outlook and helps them see food for all of the wonderful things it offers instead of just seeing it as “good” or “bad.”

Explain your research

I helped out in Dr. (Steve) Fordahl’s lab working on Connor Wallace’s study about dietary fat and its effect on dopamine in mice.

What has been unique about the support and mentorship you have received?

I have been so lucky that I have had two separate support systems through UNCG. One is the nutrition department, which welcomed me in since day one. I’ve felt very lucky to have built relationships with my professors in the nutrition department and I always know that I can ask them for help and support when I need it – even if what I need help with doesn’t have to do with a class. The other is through UNCG Recreation & Wellness, where I have worked the past two years. My supervisors and colleagues at the Kaplan Center have taught me something different and new. What I love about Kaplan is everyone genuinely wants to see you succeed and be happy. Special thanks to Professor (Laurie) Allen, Dr. (Keith) Erikson, and Kyle Anderson for being not only mentors, but also just all-around great people.

What are your plans after graduation? How has UNCG prepared you?

I will be moving to St. Petersburg, Florida, to complete my dietetic internship at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, and after that will sit for my RD exam and work as a registered dietitian. Everything I have learned at UNCG (in the classroom and out) has made me confident in what I know and what I can achieve as a dietetic intern and beyond. Working as a graduate assistant and personal trainer while being a full time student and running my own “business” of sorts has taught me that I can do difficult things, and I can handle many tasks at once (as long as I get my full eight hours of sleep each night), which will be so important in the hospital setting.

PEACE AND CONFLICT STUDIES

Jared YoungJared Young

Hometown: Seattle, WA
Degree: Bachelor of Arts (minors: business administration, sociology)

Why UNCG?

I chose UNCG after discovering its personality during my teenager’s campus tour. The diverse campus and well-respected course programs convinced me to return to school myself to finish what I started years ago, before I started a family.

Proudest accomplishment at UNCG?

My proudest accomplishment was maintaining a 3.8 GPA while working full-time and supporting my adult children’s higher-education pursuits. My educational workload was very challenging, but I did not expect anything less.

What has been unique about the support and mentorship you have received?

I feel the professors in the School of Health and Human Sciences believe in their programs and are determined to help their students succeed. The expectations for each course were laid out perfectly. However, if I had questions or concerns, the HHS professors and staff were always willing to assist me.

What are your plans after graduation? How has UNCG prepared you?

I have decided to apply for graduate school at UNCG to study information technology management. I am also passionate about community service projects and looking forward to utilizing my new PCS skills partnering with non-profit organizations at a higher level.

A’til Williamsatil williams

Hometown: Durham, NC
Degree: Master of Arts
Campus clubs/memberships: Kappa Omicron Nu

Why UNCG?

UNCG was my home beginning my undergraduate career from 2014-2018. When I decided to pursue my master’s, I knew that it would be my home again. After touring many other campuses, once we got to UNCG, it just felt right. I felt comfortable automatically and knew this is where I needed to be.

Proudest accomplishment at UNCG?

My proudest accomplishment at UNCG would be finding what I’m passionate about. I love helping the community, especially the youth population, and I feel as if being at UNCG gave me the greatest opportunities to work with these communities.

What has been unique about the support and mentorship you have received?

The support given to me by UNCG has been phenomenal. Whenever I needed something or had difficulty understanding new material for a class, every professor was always available to speak; and if they happened to be busy at that moment, they always got back to me in a timely manner.

What are your plans after graduation? How has UNCG prepared you?

I’m now working on creating my own blog website to promote the importance of conflict resolution and to educate people more on the peace and conflict studies field. UNCG has helped prepare me for creating this website because I gained extensive knowledge on the peace and conflict field during my two years of graduate learning. In addition, with the colloquium course requiring us to have an internship to utilize our skills, I have been able to learn more during my time interning at a conflict mediation center.

PUBLIC HEALTH EDUCATION

Aaliyah BelkAaliyah Belk

Hometown: Charlotte, NC
Degree: Bachelor of Science
Campus clubs/memberships: Eta Sigma Gamma Honor Society (ESG), Lloyd Disciplinary Honors College, Tau Sigma National Honor Society, University Marshal, Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Scholar

Why UNCG?

I transferred to UNCG as a sophomore. I wanted to be in a supportive and diverse environment that enriched my sense of self and community. After my Intro to Public Health class with Dr. (Carrie) Rosario, I knew I found my passion. I found my way at UNCG.

Proudest accomplishment at UNCG?

My first time presenting research at a national conference, I won first place in the Social Sciences Category for my research on Reproductive Justice for Women of Color at the 25th Annual SAEOPP McNair/SSS Scholars Research Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Explain your research

One of the research projects I worked on was titled: Repro Justice ≠ Repro Rights:

Perspectives of Advocates/Activists. I interviewed women in academia and other professions on their lived experiences as it relates to being an advocate and/or activist for reproductive justice. I used cultural humility and intersectionality as my lens. The purpose of this research was to highlight black women’s experiences and to further explore advocacy as a tool in public health.

What has been unique about the support and mentorship you have received?

My mentor Dr. Tracy Nichols introduced me to qualitative research and guided me through my two years in the PHE program. I am so thankful to have met her and to have learned from such a brilliant mind. I have also been mentored by Dr. Sharon Morrison, Dr. Meredith Gringle, and Dr. Erica Foh. They have been nothing but supportive in pushing me to succeed and achieve my goals in research and in the classroom. I am so grateful for all of the incredible faculty and staff members in the Public Health Education Department. They have created a space for me and my peers to learn and grow outside of our comfort zones.

What are your plans after graduation? How has UNCG prepared you?

I will be attending UNC Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health for my Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in Health Equity. UNCG has equipped me with the tools to be successful in academia and in my community. UNCG has helped mold me into a global citizen that is prepared to tackle the issues of health inequities.

SOCIAL WORK

Genesis C. Gardner

Genesis GartnerHometown:   Greensboro, NC
Major: Bachelor of Science

Why UNCG?

I chose to attend UNCG because I wanted to receive my degree from an institution known for being diverse and for the inclusivity of all individuals, regardless of age, sex, religion, sexual orientation, differences in beliefs, and culture, etc. I wanted an extreme hands-on approach that would allow me to put into practice in the real-world what I had learned in the classroom setting. I also chose to attend UNCG because I wanted to gain a more diverse range of friends and colleagues; I wanted a circle of contacts from different ethnic and racial groups and those with different life experiences from my own.

Proudest accomplishment at UNCG?

My proudest accomplishment at UNCG was finishing the program and obtaining my degree, despite all the challenges and barriers I faced.

Explain your research

I was involved with research for the UNCG Center for Housing and Community Studies. We were examining the effects that inadequate housing and living conditions have on one’s health. I was also involved in an African American Fathers and Sons study, which examined how conversations about sexual health and education reduced incidences of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases among African American male youth.

What has been unique about the support and mentorship you have received?

I want to be completely honest and transparent; I feel that is the only way that I can assist others who may be experiencing similar situations. Maintaining good grades and seeing the program through to the end has been extremely difficult, and if it wasn’t for the love and support that I received from the department and the University, I would have not been as successful. With homelessness and unstable living arrangements, food insecurity, and simply not knowing what to do from one day to the next, giving up was an option for me at one point. But it was during these difficult times that the University provided me with a lot of resources to ensure optimal functioning and well-being. For example, the Dean of Students provided me with meal swipes to eat at the cafeteria on numerous occasions. The guidance and supervision that I received from the department and the University not only assisted me in the educational setting, but also in other areas of my life.

What are your plans after graduation? How has UNCG prepared you?

I was accepted into the Advanced Standing Joint Master of Social Work program at UNCG and NC A&T. For the next year, I will be gaining more skills and knowledge necessary in order to serve a population of individuals affected by substance use. After finishing that program, I would like to offer counseling and therapy, as well as health services to those battling addiction. UNCG has prepared me for this by giving me the opportunity to practice in an internship setting; gaining that hands-on experience allowed me to put a number of different theories and methods of treatment to use, as well as partake in a variety of activities social workers engage in on a daily basis, such as case management and connection to outside resources, the intake and assessment process, etc. Upon graduation, I would also like to become involved in macro-level policy work in order to address laws and policies in place that further oppress or hinder individuals struggling with substance misuse. UNCG has prepared me for this by giving me the opportunity to examine sources and systems of oppression, and the inequality that exists for many.

Bryan Kendrickbryan kendrick

Hometown: Jackson, MS
Degree: Master of Social Work
Campus clubs/memberships: Phi Alpha Honors Society for Social Work

Why UNCG?

The Joint Master’s of Social Work program! The JMSW program allowed me to attend not only UNCG but also an HBCU like North Carolina A&T State University. I wanted a multicultural experience, and what better place than the JMSW program.

Proudest accomplishment at UNCG?

My proudest accomplishment is merely having the experience of being part of such a fantastic group of people. Our cohort (instructors and administration included) has been through a great deal. We lost a dear friend and a member of our program my first summer in the program, two years of brutal, challenging courses and internships, and we survived a global pandemic that pushed us all out of the classroom and forced us to finish online. I am truly honored to be a part of such a resilient bunch and, without a doubt, my proudest accomplishment.

What has been unique about the support and mentorship you have received?

I was welcomed with open arms from the very first day I stepped onto campus. Everyone that I have come into contact with, from Professor (Michael) Thull and Beverly Lucas in the JMSW program, Brittny (Luckett) at the campus bookstore, Mrs. Rebecca in housekeeping, the team at GCSTOP, to so many more, have all wrapped their arms around me and helped me complete this amazing journey.

What are your plans after graduation? How has UNCG prepared you?

I plan to be a social worker at my local Veterans Affairs Medical Center as a confident, grateful, and honored alumni of the JMSW program.

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