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UNC-Chapel Hill Class of 2022 campaigned for the Environmental Justice Undergraduate Research Program on GiveUNC

April 3, 2022 college graduate smiling

As a part of their annual Senior Campaign, UNC-Chapel Hill’s graduating class of 2022 campaigned to raise money and awareness for the Environmental Justice Undergraduate Research Program, a program administered by the UNC Institute for the Environment.

The Senior Campaign, a fundraiser held by UNC-Chapel Hill’s graduating class, was conducted as a part of the fifth annual GiveUNC, Carolina’s university-wide day of giving. Funds raised for the Environmental Justice Undergraduate Research Program will be used to support research on environmental justice in underserved communities across North Carolina, communicate this research to these communities, and provide stipends to undergraduate student researchers.

man smiling“We have a unique opportunity not only to continue to support UNC but also to create a long-lasting commitment to supporting future alumni,” said Juan Castro, the UNC Class of 2022 president.

Castro, a sociology and psychology major from High Point, North Carolina, provided insight into how he and his fellow seniors decided which program to center the annual Senior Campaign on.

Many programs and departments across the University applied to be a part of the campaign. Castro and leaders of the senior class then narrowed the potential candidates down to a select few. Students were then given the opportunity to vote on which program they felt best represented their graduating class. Programs that students voted for include improvements for the Undergraduate Library, the establishment of an American Indian Cultural Garden on campus, funding for Project Uplift, and support for the Student Health Action Coalition.

UNC-Chapel Hill’s seniors ultimately decided to focus the campaign on environmental justice. Castro believes the prospect of benefitting from a scientific research program while also being able to provide service appealed to his fellow students.

The Environmental Justice Undergraduate Research Program is a new program created by the UNC Institute for the Environment and will be a part of a growing focus on environmental justice.

“The overall goal of the senior initiative is to create equity and accessibility in climate and environmental justice research at the undergraduate level,” said Chloe Kent, a student member of the Institute for the Environment’s Board of Visitors and one of the developers of the program. “By making environmental justice research financially accessible to all undergraduates, we can create a larger talent pool of researchers with unique perspectives in identifying problems and finding solutions.”

The Senior Campaign is a time-honored Carolina tradition. For over a decade, members of the senior class have joined together to create a lasting impact to help support, enrich and enhance the Carolina experience for generations of Tar Heels to come.  Every gift, no matter the amount, is honored and commemorated with a paver surrounding the iconic Bell Tower.

For more information about GiveUNC, the Senior Campaign, and the Environmental Justice Undergraduate Research Program, you can visit the GiveUNC website.

Story by Matthew Ng
Matthew Ng is a student at UNC-Chapel Hill. A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Matthew is currently a junior pursuing a double major in journalism and political science. Outside of his work as a communications intern for the Institute for the Environment, he has experience in documentary storytelling and reporting on Chapel Hill local politics. After graduating in 2023, Matthew plans on attending graduate school.