SOE News

From the dean: Help us ensure a brighter future

We recently celebrated Commencement, the culminating event on our academic calendar. The ceremony both recognizes our graduates’ success in attaining a goal and, as the word “commencement” denotes, marks the beginning of a new stage in fulfilling their promise as scholars and educators committed and prepared to making the world a better place for everyone.

Our graduates are going out to help others –students, families, schools, communities – foster more rewarding, meaningful and successful lives.

All of us stand on the shoulders of those who came before. Previous generations built this University and this School into what it is today. Our responsibility and that of our graduates is to build on these foundations and extend the opportunities that we’ve enjoyed to others.

Commencement is also an affirming event. Despite the ever-increasing pressures and challenges, we at the School of Education are privileged to work with talented and committed students. We experience their drive, creativity, energy, and focus. We know they will do remarkable things. This knowledge fortifies and energizes us.

I want you to share with you more about our students and their work.

Below, I briefly tell the stories of a few students. More student profiles are available online at our website.

I trust these stories will inspire you as they do those of us at the School. I also ask you to help support students like these – each of whom benefited from donors who provided scholarship support.

You can help by joining and sharing our “SOEinspired!” campaign to support our Annual Fund!

Hannah Mebane

A rising senior from Burlington, Hannah is in our elementary education program. Both her mother and father are veteran math teachers.

“When I first told them I wanted to be an educator, they looked at me, at each other, then back at me again and said, ‘Are you crazy? You’ve spent your whole life listening to our horror stories of the classroom and you still want to be a teacher?’ I looked at them and nodded. They sighed, and my dad said with a laugh, ‘Well, I guess this means you must really want it.’ And I do.”

Hannah, who is also concentrating in mathematics, science and computer technologies, says being a teacher means more than preparing students for academic success.

“Teaching is about letting kids see their strengths and their weaknesses,” she says. “Teaching is about equipping students with the tools they will need for the rest of their academic careers and also tools they will need for life.”

Hannah was the recipient this year of the V. Mayo and Norman Melvin Bundy Scholarship, established by their children to honor the Bundy’s service to the Madison-Mayodan school system.

Sandy Trinh

Sandy is a quintessential example of American opportunity. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, she was raised in Roanoke Rapids by parents that she says worked very hard to give her and her brothers a better life.

Sandy is majoring in biology and is part of our UNC-BEST program that enables science and math majors to concurrently complete courses for teacher certification as undergraduates. Sandy is a recipient of the Gail Weaver Bunn Fellowship, created to honor Gail Bunn (A.B.Ed. ’72).

“I loved learning in high school and had an amazing chemistry teacher who made learning fun and exciting,” Sandy says. “He sparked my interest in teaching and ever since then I’ve wanted to foster that interest in other students as well. Teachers also have such a large role in the lives of students outside of academics and the opportunity to foster their growth as young adults is something that I truly enjoy.”

Shelby Dawkins-Law

Shelby came from Washington, D.C., to Chapel Hill as an undergraduate and dug into the intellectual and civic life of Carolina.

As an undergrad, Shelby majored in psychology, was selected as a Fellow in the Moore Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program, and graduated as a Carolina Research Scholar. She enrolled in the School of Education to pursue a master’s degree. Now, she’s in our Ph.D. program in policy, leadership and school improvement. Active in civic and student leadership roles, she was elected president of Carolina’s Graduate and Professional Student Federation and served in this post during the past year.

“My family members place a high priority on education, and we come from a long line of black people who had unique experiences during the desegregation era,” Shelby says. “On my mother’s side, I am a fifth-generation college student. My grandmother earned a Ph.D. from Howard University in the ’70s, and when I graduate, I will be the fifth family member with a doctorate.”

Shelby absorbed lessons from growing up in a home where her mother worked as a pre-kindergarten teacher for more than 20 years in Washington, D.C.

“I discovered my passion in the UNC School of Education,” Shelby says. “I didn’t recognize it at first, but I have always been an advocate for marginalized students. In middle and high school, I worked with students at my mother’s school because I could see myself in them and wanted to be a positive role model, especially for the girls I coached in cheerleading.”

Shelby was this year’s recipient of the William C. Self Award.

“Receiving this award has helped me realize my potential and encourages me to continue,” Shelby says. “In particular, since this award is named for a former dean of the School of Education and superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools during desegregation, I am deeply honored to be associated with his legacy. With my work’s focus on school choice and resegregation, I am inspired to try to live up to Dr. Self’s outstanding career.”

These stories give you a glimpse into the caliber of students we are privileged to work with daily. They give us hope that brighter days for public education lie ahead. You can help make sure that the students who can make the future brighter have the support they need to do so.