Gifts Matter

Master’s students gain opportunities for international travel and study, thanks to Professor Gerald Unks

Photo of Professor Gerald Unks

Robert Brinlee and Brandon Keith are preparing to be high school teachers Robert plans to teach English and Brandon, history. Both are currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching degree (M.A.T.) at the School of Education and will graduate this summer.

For these two graduate students, their experience and learning this year will be enhanced by an opportunity to travel and study in England, thanks to the generosity of Professor Gerald Unks, who annually funds M.A.T. Travel to England Scholarships for selected members of the M.A.T. class.

Unks has long been an advocate of the benefits of travel. “No single activity has broadened my perceptions and deepened my understanding of myself and of the world more than has traveling,” he told Carolina’s graduating seniors when he delivered “The Last Lecture” at their senior send-off in April 2008.

At the School of Education, Unks established the M.A.T. Travel to England Scholarships in 2005, reflecting his strong conviction that teachers who have the opportunity to travel and interact with people from different cultures will translate those experiences into a more culturally aware classroom environment for their students.

“I began giving money for the scholarship when I started receiving royalties from my book, Schooling in America, and that continues to be the source,” said Unks.

Anne Bryan, director of student affairs for the School of Education, affirmed the need for student scholarships. “In an ideal world, all students in the School of Education would have an opportunity to travel and study abroad and get a sense of the world beyond Chapel Hill. These experiences are increasingly important in today’s global world,” said Bryan.

“Unfortunately, many of our students can’t afford these opportunities,” she continued. “We need more resources, like the scholarship provided by Dr. Unks, so that our students can become the best possible educators for the 21st century.”

If you would like more information about ways to support students at the School of Education, please contact Wendy Borman, assistant dean for external relations, at wendy_borman@unc.edu or (919) 843-4536.