UNCG Magazine

Fall 2020

RAVEN
SOARS

Fall 2020

RAVEN

SOARS

The aspiring music teacher is inaugural Sloan Scholar. Not that she’d toot her own horn. Read more.


Feature Stories

Novel Virus
Requires
Smarter
Approach

Novel Virus
Requires
Smarter
Approach

Many members of the larger Spartan community are playing big roles in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

QUICK AND NIMBLE SETS THE PACE

THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC has created unprecedented challenges for the world. But for some, it has presented unique opportunities. Equipped with the right mix of experience, knowledge, and tools, those with a vision and willingness to take risks have embarked on journeys into uncharted waters in the hope of finding better solutions.

Two UNC Greensboro alumni – Keivan Ettefagh ’13 PhD and James Patrick Healy ’14 PhD – have taken the leap, and they are moving full-sail ahead on mass-producing an innovative technique for collecting and testing samples for COVID-19.

As vice president of technical innovation and lab manager, respectively, they are part of Greensboro’s Select Laboratory Partners (SLP), a local company that specializes in laboratory implementation, management, and support for healthcare practitioners.

“What’s wonderful about our company is it’s very science- driven.”

— Keivan Ettefagh ’13 PhD

“You’re watching every step and asking, ‘What can we do better?’.”

— James Patrick Healy ’14 PhD

ENVISION A HIGHER-TECH MASK

Kepley Biosystems, led by Dr. Anthony Dellinger ’15 PhD and co-founded by UNCG nanoscience professor Dr. Christopher Kepley, is a North Carolina life sciences startup that looks for sustainable solutions to environmental problems through invention.

Their projects run the gamut – from a synthetic and sustainable fishing bait, to odor technology to help train newly adopted dogs, to microbial-resistant technology initially created for the management of horseshoe crab blood.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the bioscientist team realized they had an impetus to develop something to help the medical community, as well as patients and potentially others.

PPE GOWNS REBUFF MOISTURE

Tasmin Farzana ’14 MBA has learned plenty of new things while working from home during quarantine. For one, there’s chess, a game she admits she hasn’t quite mastered. Another is chemistry.

Farzana, senior procurement manager of Global Operations at Hanesbrands Inc., oversaw the chemical component of the company’s agreement to supply the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency with more than 20 million medical gowns. The water repellent gowns needed to be tested before use by medical professionals.

“I had to rely on my high school chemistry,” Farzana jested. “Before the agreement, we had never made gowns. The part I led was the chemical, which I’d never managed before. I had to learn quickly.”

WHAT ROLE SELENIUM PLAYS?

An international team of researchers, including UNCG Biochemistry professor Ethan W. Taylor, has identified a significant association between COVID-19 prognosis and regional selenium status in China.

Selenium is an essential dietary trace element that over the last 40 years has been found to be a significant factor affecting the incidence, severity, or mortality of various viral diseases, in animals and humans. This has been studied most extensively in the case of HIV and AIDS, where selenium status has proven to be an important determinant of disease progression and mortality. As China has geographical regions known to have either extremely high or low soil selenium levels, one of the first human diseases associated with selenium deficiency was identified there, in a region of Heilongjiang province named Keshan.

UNCG NURSES ON NATIONAL STAGE

EMERGENCY WARD IN NYC HOT SPOT

BEVIN STRICKLAND ’20 DNP, who graduated this August from UNCG’s Nurse Anesthesia Program, worked last spring in the emergency department of Mount Sinai Queens in New York City. The city was the nation’s hot sport for the virus, and she was compelled to help.

She cared for the critically ill by using ultrasound technology to get IV access for patients, managing critical cardiac drips, and even intubating patients. Her creativity and critical thinking were skills developed during coursework and experiential learning at UNCG. “My ICU and CRNA training prepared me to care for patients with knowledge and skills that the other emergency department nurses didn’t have. The didactic education and clinical rotations I had gave me the confidence to support the Mount Sinai staff.”

UNCG NURSING’S EVER-WIDENING IMPACT

DR. ERNEST GRANT ’93 MSN, ’15 PHD was invited to the White House in May. He presented his views to Dr. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, about the challenges nurses are facing. He also spoke with Vice President Pence. “I asked him to strongly suggest to the governors of the 50 states that, as they implement their reopening plans, they add a nurse – particularly a community or public health nurse – to their task force. Nurses should be at the table to discuss best practices so that the reopening process can be done in a safe and effective manner.”

REPRESENT

REPRESENT

Spartan artists proclaim Black Lives Matter in broad strokes

With the horrifying video from Minneapolis of police choking George Floyd, pinning the man’s neck to the street for 8 minutes, the world could no longer look away. The deaths of Black men and women at the hand of police or self-appointed vigilantes have filled the headlines, one after another.

The summer of 2020 seemed to mark a societal shift. People marched down streets and barged through big-box stores. They blogged and tweeted. They read and listened, while others shouted. Black artists and allies – including many Spartans – created very public art to amplify the issues and to represent what they knew deep inside: pain, hope, and constant struggle.

Phillip Marsh was an organizer for BLM artwork efforts on S. Elm Street.

Art as action

“One love.” It’s a radical lyric.

Phillip Marsh grew up as hip-hop music was emerging in popular culture. But the music and Rastafarian philosophy of Bob Marley was his guiding beacon.

Phillip’s neighborhood outside Washington, DC, was a tough one. He had some run-ins with the law. “Made some choices,” as he explains. Once you have a record, it gets harder to get a job, he adds.

For him, it wasn’t police. “My problem was with the system,” again and again. Finally, a drug possession conviction put him in prison for three years.

But he found his life’s calling. Art put him on a trajectory to express his outlook on the world, and to make his livelihood.

Kidd Graves ’20 interacts with artwork she helped create at Elsewhere Museum.

Give it extra dimension

Every artist has a story.

Kidd Graves ’20 arrives for the planning meeting for the large plywood storefront at Elsewhere Museum. What’s the message, the tale to tell?

The artists gather round, wearing masks or social distancing. They build on their discussions from the weekend before: it’ll be the narrative of a Black girl, developing her voice. The center will be a butterfly.

Kidd will help craft the dramatic three-dimensional wings, a symbol of metamorphosis. She proposed the 3-D flower designs, and will create those as well.

With the given name Karena, Kidd identifies as a woman sometimes, as non-binary gender sometimes, she says. She aligns with the Black Lives Matter movement. “I don’t necessarily consider myself an activist. I consider myself an artist.”

Kidd earned her UNCG degree in sculpture in May, and is now enrolled in graduate school at ECU to hone her work. She wants to explore, through her art, “my Blackness, my queerness.”

Essence Foster’s mural depicts a Black woman, her face a swirl of emotions.

Paint it loud

Near the Lewis St. corner, Essence Foster has completed her work, an image of a woman created with charcoal, spray paint, and a collage of magazine clippings. Through a mask, Essence speaks with the other artists, as dusk approaches.

Essence, who already holds a bachelor’s degree, is on the pre-med track at UNCG. With an inner need to help people and a sweet spot for children, she plans to be a pediatrician.

Black History, Black Art

Nejla Harris paints upward-stretching triangles to represent the uplifting of Black men.

Across the street, Nejla Harris is putting final touches on her work.

“Breathe for those who don’t get a chance to.” – Londrelle

“Black love, Brown pride.” – Nipsey Hussle

These quotes set the tone for Nejla’s mural: the first referencing the horrific murder of George Floyd and the second sending a message of unity.

When the protests ended, Nejla didn’t wait for an invitation.

After seeing artists downtown, she called her friend Ryan Oakley – a Wake Forest University alumna who’d taken UNCG summer courses. They picked a plywood wall, and went to work. They composed separate pieces, which together formed “To Be Black Is: Black Men & Black Women.”

People of color are a common theme of Nejla’s art. She’s always taken an interest in Black history, and at UNCG she’s pursuing a minor in African diaspora studies to complement her degree in interior architecture – noting she didn’t want to study art because it’s too personal to her.


University Libraries recommended books about racial justice. Perspectives on racism and White privilege from fellow Spartans. UNCG policies on discrimination. A listing of upcoming talks. These resources and many more are hosted on the Racial Equity at UNCG website.

“In moments of great pain, universities can show the way forward, but we must be fearless and bold enough to name that which is most difficult to acknowledge – and this is the promise of the website. It is a gathering place where we may ask difficult questions, seek out a community in dialogue, and find resources to learn and grow as we affirm our commitment to racial equity and shared fate,” says Dr. Andrea Hunter, professor and, along with Dr. Julia Mendez Smith, a Chancellor’s Fellow for Campus Climate.

Lessons from the Past

Spartans at Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum connect history to today’s pressing issues

Off a busy, rural road in Gibsonville, North Carolina, stands the one state historic site in North Carolina focusing on African American history – and the only one honoring a woman.

Brick dormitories, pastel teachers’ cottages, and a school bell mark what was once the Palmer Memorial Institute, a 20th-century boarding school where more than 2,000 African American high schoolers had the rare opportunity to earn a “New England education” in the heart of the South.

The boarding school was opened in 1902 by a headstrong young educator, Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown, when she was only 19 years old. From its humble beginnings in a blacksmith’s cabin, it grew to include 200 acres and to produce professors, lawyers, and politicians who would go on to change history in their own ways.

This school was Dr. Brown’s life’s mission.

Today, three young women – all graduates of UNC Greensboro’s museum studies master’s program – are continuing that mission in their own way. As the small but mighty staff of what is now the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum, these alumni are dedicated to sharing a piece of history that is often overlooked – or in this case, driven past.

Yet for those who take the time to stop, to walk the museum’s peaceful acres and listen to the story of Dr. Brown and her school, what they will find is a history that resonates with startling relevance today.

Charlotte Hawkins Brown, founder and principal of the Palmer Memorial Institute

Greensboro’s ‘Green Book’ history

THE MAGNOLIA HOUSE is entering its second act. And a class of Spartans are determined that its first is well-documented.

In the Jim Crow era, hotels in the South were segregated. African American travelers relied on the Green Book Motorist Guide for listings of hotels.

Greensboro’s The Magnolia House is one of only four buildings still standing in North Carolina that were “Green Book” hotels.

Situated between downtown and Bennett College, its guests included James Brown, Jackie Robinson, James Baldwin, Ike and Tina Turner, and thousands of other travelers. It was a center of its community.

A class of UNCG museum studies master’s students have combed archives, scanned old photos, and interviewed community members and the current owners, the Pass family. The students are creating lesson plans for teachers and planning programming.

They’re helping create an exhibition space in the house, to tell an important story – of the community, of past racial restrictions and racist mores, of some figures in its history.


Falderal Memories

Who remembers Falderal, or the Fall Charlies? The five-day fall celebration took place on UNCG’s campus beginning in the late 60s and continuing through the 70s, with many concerts, dances, performances, speakers, crafts, fireworks, and even a mime troupe. “A bit of finery, a bit of nonsense,” the festival served up apple cider and doughnuts, pizza for a pizza-eating contest, as well as beer at “Suds and Sounds” for those of-age.

    bigpicture

    UNCG has been a remarkable place during these extraordinary times.

    In our faculty and staff, I see tireless dedication to our mission – literally thousands of people pulling together to create the best possible academic, social, and cultural experience for our students as they pursue their dreams.

    In our alumni, I see passionate support and a willingness to give time, expertise, and treasure where all of these resources are much needed and deeply appreciated. Spartans are coming together to support UNCG and our students in new and meaningful ways.

    In our community, I see the power of our shared place and fate and the unique role we play in making Greensboro a vibrant city.

    And most of all, I see in our students resilience, persistence, focus, an strength. They have earned our admiration and respect. They have embraced life-saving community standards in ways that have directly contributed to our ability to manage this pandemic as effectively as possible. I am grateful to them, proud of them, and inspired by them.

    Better days are ahead. For the present, we face our challenges united by our common purpose as “one great unbroken band,” as our school song says.

    Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. Chancellor
    Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr.
    Chancellor

    newsfront

    • New merit scholarship

      New merit scholarship

      Susan and Perry Safran have made a $1 million gift to UNC Greensboro. The gift will support the Safran Family Endowed Scholarship. The merit scholarship, part of UNCG’s Minerva Scholars program, will be presented to students from any field of study. Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. said, “I can’t say enough about Susan and Perry […]

      Read more

    • Photographic memories from the Big Apple

      Photographic memories from the Big Apple

      It was the early 1970’s New York City. A young, wide-eyed Andy Grundberg ’71 MFA arrived on the scene, on the heels of having recently completed the MFA writing program at UNC Greensboro and getting street cred as a staff photographer at a local newspaper in Reidsville, N.C. The Vietnam War and the Civil Rights […]

      Read more

    • Her best shot

      Her best shot

      For most photographers, publishing work in The New York Times and The Washington Post represents the pinnacle of success. But for Alycee Byrd ’19, it’s just the beginning. In the last year, Alycee’s photography has been featured in a variety of national and international publications. It started in the summer of 2020, when Men’s Health […]

      Read more

    • Nothing but nets

      Nothing but nets

      With an overtime win on the last day of the conference season, UNCG took the Regular Season title. In Asheville, they won in three straight days to take the SoCon Championship title. For the second time in a week, they pulled out the ladder and cut down the nets. That earned them a ticket to […]

      Read more

    • Strength in numbers

      It’s no secret that it’s been a tough year for college admissions nationally. UNCG’s Division of Enrollment Management has a new leader and new initiatives aimed at growing enrollment and improving student outcomes. Learn how Vice Chancellor Tina McEntire is managing enrollment during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how she and her team are preparing for […]

      Read more

    • Chairman of the Board

      Dean McRae “Mac” Banks at the Bryan School of Business and Economics has been elected to become chair of the Board of Directors for the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. It is the largest global accrediting body for business schools that offer undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees in business and accounting. The Bryan […]

      Read more

    • #1 in NC in Gilman Scholars

      Gilman Scholarships are presented by the US State Department to enable American students of limited means an international study experience to gain proficiency in diverse languages and cultures. Last year, 13 UNCG students were among the 2,386 American undergraduate students selected. That total was #21 in the nation, and the most in North Carolina. Due […]

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    • Distinct Honor

      Dr. Edna Tan has been elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Fellows are selected each year by their peers for “efforts on behalf of the advancement of science, or its applications, that are scientifically or socially distinguished.” Tan was honored for her pioneering work on equitable and impactful […]

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    • Big picture: A note from the chancellor

      This year has been called historic, unbelievable, wrenching, inspiring, hard – all of them true. We see better days ahead. We plan to hold multiple May Commencement ceremonies in person, with graduates walking across the stage to receive well-deserved recognition. Our Fall 2021 will be much more like Fall 2019, with full residence halls, in-person […]

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    thestudio

    The show must go on

    The show must go on

    Soon after graduating from UNCG’s School of Music, Martha Bassett ’96 MM made a name for herself with her first band, Martha and the Moodswingers. Nine albums later, the jazz singer realized she was at a crossroads. She could either commit to developing a national audience or invest more at home – and North Carolina […]

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    BB makes a banjo ring

    BB makes a banjo ring

    She received the Steve Martin Banjo Prize last fall. Her band, Mile Twelve, was named New Artist of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association. BB Bowness learned banjo in her native New Zealand – “It isn’t really a hotbed of bluegrass,” she says dryly. At age 12, a local carpenter agreed to teach […]

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    Museum mural

    Museum mural

    A major new artwork by Sheena Rose ’16 MFA will grace the Weatherspoon Art Museum atrium this spring. Her vibrant and energetic work is at once anchored in her Caribbean heritage and expansive in its explorations of culture and human experience. It has been featured internationally, including the A.I.R. Gallery in New York; the Berlin […]

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    New at UNCG: Robinson Family Fund in Jazz Studies

    New at UNCG: Robinson Family Fund in Jazz Studies

    When Ward Robinson, MD, retired, he turned to a different challenge: music.  As an infectious disease expert, Robinson served for two decades at Moses Cone Health System and five years as medical director for the Guilford County Department of Public Health. “I was trying to find ways for each individual within our community to have […]

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    Outtake

    STANDING ON CEREMONY Faculty Convocation is held every September. This year’s was held with social distancing protocols, with Spartan-spirited face coverings, and with most faculty participating remotely via Zoom video conferencing. Dr. Anthony Chow, joined by Dr. Laurie Kennedy-Malone and Dr. Michael A. Hemphill, made a very thoughtful gesture. They knew many students start their year by placing a coin, a flower, or an apple at the base of the Minerva statue, which represents wisdom. It’s said to bring good luck. This fall,
    relatively few students could do that. So in the Sept. 9 ceremony, they each set beautiful, large sunflowers at the base. It’s not known how many actually believe in the good luck tradition. But this feeling of care for our students is something to believe in with all our hearts.

    Photograph by Martin W. Kane
    “The real ceremony begins where the formal one ends …”
    — Linda K. Hogan
    Fall 2020

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