Students climb for cancer cure

June 30, 2009

Rising UNC College seniors Trey Newsome and Patrick Fleming, and pal Jake Lyerly, are climbing mountains to raise funds for curing cancer, according to a recent story in the Herald-Sun, excerpted here:

Newsome, who has a double major in chemistry and psychology, is the founder of Climb for the Cure, an annual fundraiser for cancer research and treatment. It’s an issue that hits close to home: his grandmother, Sherry Townsend, was diagnosed with bile duct cancer in 2000 and was given a 2 percent chance of survival. After receiving treatment at the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, she remains cancer-free, but her illness inspired Newsome to take action….

Newsome, Fleming (who is studying economics and journalism) and Lyerly, undertook Climb for the Cure’s first expedition last June. The three climbed the Grand, Middle and South Tetons in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, raising $15,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. This year, Climb for the Cure plans to raise funds for Caring House, a hospitality house for DCCC. Caring House provides a place for patients to stay with their caretakers while undergoing treatment. According to the organization’s executive director, Sheridan Townsend (also Newsome’s mother), places such as Caring House are sorely needed, especially in the Durham area. ….

In August, Newsome and Fleming will return to Wyoming to scale the state’s highest mountain, Gannett Peak. At close to 14,000 feet, with a 9,000 foot vertical climb and the largest glacier in the Rocky Mountains, it will be a challenging climb. They hope to raise $15,000 through sponsorships and donations; they already have close to $6,000.

Read the rest of the story.


Celebrated tenor Anthony Dean Griffey will teach at UNC

June 25, 2009

Big news for Carolina music students: Two-time Grammy Award-winning tenor Anthony Dean Griffey will teach master music classes and one-on-one voice coaching sessions as UNC Artist-in-Residence during the coming academic year. Two of the master classes will be open for the public to attend. Click here for details.

Griffey, a native of High Point, recently discussed his life and career, with Jessica Jones on WUNC-FM radio. He recalled growing up the shy child of furniture workers who first sang in the Baptist church choir. One of his former teachers remembers having to push him out on stage, but when he sang “The Impossible Dream,” the highschool audience gave him a standing ovation.

Listen to the interview, including discussions of his life in North Carolina and New York, his career as an opera and concert star, and his comments when he won two Grammy’s earlier this year.


Research confirms the power of positive thinking

June 24, 2009

Barbara Fredrickson, UNC distinguished professor of psychology and author of the book Positivity, says positive thinking can make a significant difference in personal well being. In a public radio interview with Frank Stasio on WUNC-FM “State of Things,” she discusses her research on the power of positive emotions.

She emphasizes the difference between happiness and positivity. Happiness defines your overarching view of your life, she says, while positivity is about focusing on “micro emotions” such as joy, gratitude and awe, that may only be felt for a few seconds or a few minutes, but taken together lead to well being. It’s important to focus on the emotion and the moment to experience and appreciate these positive feelings, she says.

“Positive emotions expand our awareness and build our resources, and that makes life more fulfilling,” she says.

She also discusses her research on the Positivity Ratio, emphasizing the importance of balancing positive and negative emotions.

“Our emotions tend to obey a tipping point,” she says. Her research shows that tipping point or positivity ratio is 3 to 1. “We need three positive emotions to lift us up for every one negative emotion that brings us down. Eighty percent of Americans only have a 2-to-1 positivity ratio.”

To improve that ratio she says we need to focus more on the present and give ourselves time to do the things we enjoy the most, whether that’s a walk in the woods or a hobby.

“Resilient people manage adversity and handle unexpected things,” she says. It’s not just that they only experience positive emotions, but instead that they are able to cultivate more positive feelings. Resilient people don’t make social comparisons, ” she says. Instead they focus on what’s positive in their own lives.

“One of the most positive emotions to elicit is gratitude,” she says. ” If we see what we are going through as a gift or an opportunity it unlocks that positive emotion.”

Listen to the discussion.

Check out your Positivity Ratio and learn more.


Resume popper: A joint international degree from UNC and Singapore

June 23, 2009

UNC junior geography major David Crawford will have a distinctive credential at the top of his resume when he graduates: a joint international degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the National University of Singapore, a leading international university considered one of the best in Asia.

Crawford, the first Carolina student to enroll in the innovative joint undergraduate degree program between UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences and its liberal arts counterpart at NUS, spent his sophomore year in Singapore. The program — the only one of its kind in the U.S. — is open to academic majors in economics, English literature, geography, history and political science. Eligible UNC and NUS students can take two to four semesters of classes at the partner university, culminating in a degree from both institutions at the end of four years.

“The NUS-UNC joint-degree program joins the strengths of two great universities and takes a cutting-edge approach to a traditional undergraduate education,” said Dan Gold, Asia programs director with UNC Study Abroad. “It allows students to experience greater academic depth than a regular study abroad semester could offer alone, while also providing the opportunity for young scholars at both institutions to explore new areas of the world.”

Crawford liked being able to spend two semesters abroad, having time to fully explore academics and culture, and to travel throughout Southeast Asia. The NUS academic environment is competitive, he said.

“There’s a word, kiasu, that means ‘to be afraid to lose,’ and that is Singaporean culture in a nutshell. That took awhile to get used to.”

He enjoyed the academic and cultural difference. “I think it’s really important for college students to immerse themselves in cultures so completely unlike their own because you get to think beyond the island of North America and see things from the Asian perspective, which is very different from most places,” Crawford said.

Being a NUS student also opened the doors to an internship with Transient Workers Count Too, a local NGO devoted to improving conditions of Bangladeshi migrant workers in Singapore. Crawford had worked with Burmese refugees while at UNC and was pleased to have this opportunity to pursue his interest in migrant rights.

“Working for an internationally-based organization was just such a great experience,” he said.

His participation in the joint-degree program was suppported by UNC’s Phillips Ambassadors Program, funded by a gift from former U.S. Ambassador Earl “Phil” Phillips.

“Moving to a foreign country and living there on your own for a length of time, having to adjust, has really prepared me for a lot of things after I graduate,” Crawford said. “It’s a global market for jobs and so it has allowed me to think more from a global perspective.”

— Excerpted from a story by Robyn Mitchell ’09 in UNC Global News, where you can also read about one of the NUS students who studied at UNC.


Zena’s Arctic Adventure

June 19, 2009

An undergraduate dispatch from the land of the midnight sun (Endeavors magazine). For amazing videos, photos and details, see Zena’s blog.


UNC Iran expert: Ignore the experts

June 18, 2009

UNC sociologist Charles Kurzman, author of The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran about the 1978-79 upheaval, says the situation there is reminiscent of what happened30 years ago and, like then, it is too complex to predict what will happen next.

So far, he says, all of the expert analyses are wrong. “They are wrong because the outcome of this week’s events is simply unpredictable. Unpredictable means that no matter how well-informed you may be, it is impossible to know what will happen next. Moments of turmoil make a mockery of accumulated knowledge.”

Read his commentary in Foreign Policy.



Biking America for affordable housing

June 18, 2009

Recent UNC grad Andy Ives ’09 is bicycling across the country to build and raise funds for affordable housing. The Efland, N.C., native who studied environmental science and journalism, is pedaling from Nags Head to San Diego, stopping in communities to help local building projects. Read his interview in The Indy.