After spending the summer completing internships in the public sector and conducting research on COVID-19’s impact in local communities, Kenan Scholars shared their experiences with fellow students, UNC faculty/staff and business professionals at the Kenan Scholars Public Sector Showcase. On Sept. 25, 2020, Kenan Scholars class of 2022 presented via virtual panels about their work in the public sector. The two-hour event featured presentations from current scholars, Dr. Greg Brown, Executive Director of the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, and Hon. Penny Rich, Chair of the Orange County Board of Commissioners.
The showcase featured four different panels: COVID-19’s Impact on Local Communities, Internships in Nonprofits, State and Local Government Experiences, and Center for Sustainable Enterprise Internships. Each of these panels had three-to-four students presenting their findings from their work this past summer.
Sam Gordon-Pecelli kicked off the event with his presentation, Retirement Homes Pierced by Isolation’s Double Edged Sword. He explained how he connected those in retirement homes with volunteers through ipads in order to combat the effects of isolation in these communities. Cara Kuuskvere followed Gordon-Pecelli’s presentation and explained how COVID-19 has had an impact on Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. She explained that through a survey, she found that teachers are worried not only about their students’ academic progress, but about their physical and mental health as well. Nick Mignogna and Jared Cohen also presented in this panel. Mignogna shared his research on how COVID-19 affected Radnor Township Community Programs, specifically the Radnor Day Camp. Cohen discussed the impact of COVID-19 on New Jersey’s coastal communities.
Following this panel, Abigale Hawkins, Paige Murray and Anna Manocha presented their experiences interning at nonprofits. Abigale Hawkins explained how she utilized what she learned in classroom along with her passion for music to support the Washington National Cathedral’s accounting department. Paige Murray used her marketing skills at Charlotte Radiology working in event planning and logistics, corporate sponsorships and outreach, and marketing and communications. Anna Manocha served as an entrepreneurial intern for the Chatham County Food Hub which allowed restaurants to sell their food through the Hub to minimize operational costs during COVID-19.
Hon. Penny Rich then spoke to students about her role as the Chair of Orange County Board of Commissioners and her role in responding to COVID-19 in North Carolina. As this year’s theme for Kenan Scholars is Race(ism) and Discrimination in Business and the Economy, Commissioner Rich spoke about the pandemic through a racial lens. “As future leaders, you really need to sometimes sit down and just take your guard down and just listen and always make room for people of color in the room,” Rich said. “We need to pay attention to those that hold power and insist that they stop protecting the status quo.”
After Rich’s inspiring presentation, Jack Morningstar kicked off the panel for State and Local Government Experiences. Morningstar interned with Representative Graig Meyer and completed his research on the challenges and opportunities for political fundraisers during COVID-19. Caroline Englert followed his presentation and discussed affordable housing based on her experience with the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. Thomas Slade wrapped up the panel by sharing his experience lobbying to increase grant funding for innovative North Carolina small businesses working for the North Carolina Department of Commerce for the Office of Science, Technology & Innovation.
Attendees then heard from the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise’s Executive Director, Dr. Greg Brown, who addressed the Kenan Institute’s work with the public sector. “What we really want to do was help people better understand not just what was happening on the health care side of the pandemic, but also what was happening on the economic side, and especially the dislocation that workers were facing and the disproportionate impact it was having on certain populations,” Brown said.
The final panel focused on internships at the Center for Sustainable Enterprise. Scholars Carli Cone, Yingxi Huang, Ethan Silvey and McCauley Palmer presented in this panel. Cone presented on the negative effects of electronics in terms of E-waste while Huang presented on the impact investing and provided three ways to improve the impact investing industry with a focus on education. Silvey shared his research on what we have learned from COVID-19 and analyzing the CARES stimulus package. Lastly, Palmer presented her findings on preparing for a recession and driving recovery through sustainability.
The Kenan Scholars Public Sector Showcase was the first of its kind within the program but certainly will not be the last!. This experience allowed students to proudly present the contributions they made to the public sector in the midst of a global pandemic. A full recording of the showcase can be accessed here.