For more than a century, one idea has been at the heart of UNC Greensboro’s mission as both an institution of learning and a force for positive change in North Carolina and beyond.
“Service,” the University motto, is more than a slogan. It’s a charge given to every student, past and present, to make a meaningful mark on the world. Behind this simple word is a wealth of work and passion as diverse as the University’s students and alumni themselves.
The power of mentorship
Kevin Graves ’04 (in center surrounded by four mentees) was first introduced to service work in 1991 when he pledged Kappa Alpha Psi, and he’s been non-stop ever since.
After graduation, Kevin served eight years in the U.S. Air Force, where he volunteered for the Fisher House Foundation, a nationwide service organization for the families of wounded and convalescing veterans and service members.
In 2009, with support from the Burlington Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, he created the Karolina Diamonds, an Amateur Athletic Union basketball team designed to provide athletic, professional, and cultural education to underserved youth. And Kevin has continued to mentor these young men over the years.
“To be there for somebody when they don’t have anybody else. To be that person they can call on. Providing that is valuable when it comes to building confidence, and a lot of people don’t have that,” Graves says.
Students mark their mark: Camp Kesem
In 2017, UNCG became one of 117 universities across the country to host a chapter of Camp Kesem, a program that operates free summer camps for children impacted by a parent’s cancer.
To make this possible, students Savanna Thomas and MaryKent Wolff had to pull off an ambitious voting campaign to compete with dozens of other universities across the country vying to start their own chapters. Now rising seniors, Thomas and Wolff co-direct Camp Kesem at UNCG, a 501(c)3 nonprofit and student organization of more than 30 UNCG volunteers.
In 2018, they raised more than $30,000 to bring 32 children to the weeklong camp, completely free of charge. This year, they hope to raise $45,000 to host 45 campers.
“Service is not only uplifting, but gives you a chance to work on who you are and who you want to be – and become more empowered about your role in your community,” says Wolff.
Improving health care
Kathryn Foster ’84, ’92 MSN (in blue blouse) has been dedicated to improving the quality of and access to health care in the community for more than 30 years.
During her career at Cone Health, Kathryn spearheaded the opening of Community Health and Wellness and Renaissance Family Medicine, clinics that provide care regardless of patients’ ability to pay.
Today, she is a quality improvement specialist at Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro, where she trains and empowers fellow nurses to provide the best possible care to patients. She also serves on the board of directors of the North Carolina chapter of the ALS Association.
With her husband, Wayne ’01 PhD, she created the Wayne A. and Kathryn S. Foster Scholarship to support UNCG School of Nursing undergraduates with financial need.
The full version of this story originally appeared in UNCG Magazine. To read the full story and other stories about UNCG alumni making an impact, visit alumnimagazine.uncg.edu.
Story by Victor Ayala and Avery Campbell, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications