Five students selected as 2019 Burch Fellows

Five students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s College of Arts and Sciences were selected as recipients of the 2019 Burch Fellowship to pursue unique, self-defined educational experiences anywhere off UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus.

The Burch Fellows Program was established in 1993 by a gift from UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus Lucius E. Burch, III. Its purpose is to recognize undergraduate students at Carolina who possess extraordinary ability, promise, and imagination. The students propose self-designed endeavors that will make a demonstrable difference in the selected Burch Fellows’ lives and enable them to pursue a passionate interest in a way and to a degree not otherwise possible. Funding of up to $6,000 is available towards the expenses of each proposed project.

To be chosen as a Burch Fellow, an applicant must present convincing evidence of exceptional intellectual, creative, civic, or leadership ability and promise through the application, recommendations, and interview. The proposed fellowship experience should allow the pursuit of an intense interest well beyond the scope of an academic course, a vocational commitment, a summer job, internship, or enrichment program.  All Carolina undergraduates who meet eligibility requirements may apply.


Valentina Arismendi, class of 2021, is from Orlando, Florida and is studying media and journalism, particularly interactive media and English to pursue a career focused on how digital rhetoric can change public perception of social issues. This summer, she will work with The Immigrant Story, a nonprofit storytelling organization which specializes in narrating stories about immigrants. As an immigrant herself, she will document the stories of Hispanic populations in Portland, OR and Los Angeles, CA. Her project will consist of a collection of multimedia stories to be used as qualitative research about immigrant-run small businesses.


Sebastian Elie-York, class of 2020, is from Toronto, Canada and is studying health policy and management with a minor in entrepreneurship. Sebastian will use his passion for food systems and sustainability to empower the efforts of Food for Soul, a food-equity nonprofit based in Modena, Italy. He will spend 3 months in Italy researching how population growth, global warming, and globalization are impacting global food systems. His research will help guide Food for Souls’ expansion into the United States and future growth efforts.


Gabrielle Hubert, class of 2020, is from Waxhaw, North Carolina and is studying public policy (with a particular interest in international human rights, and social justice) and English with a minor in vocal music performance. Gabby will travel to Yangon, Myanmar for two and a half months to work at the Asia Foundation developing programming and conducting research on gender disparities in experience of international development. This project will include data analysis as well as interviews with local women from various townships around Myanmar.


Elisa Kadackal, class of 2021, is from Concord, North Carolina, and is majoring in global studies with minors in computer science and information systems. This summer, she will intern in France for Shifra, an Australian organization with a namesake application designed to improve access to quality sexual and reproductive health care for refugees and migrants. Building on Shifra’s partnership with Techfugees and the French Red Cross, she will conduct research in Arabic-speaking communities in Northern France to evaluate the feasibility of replicating Shifra’s Australian success in migrant and refugee communities outside of Australia. In doing so, she hopes to better understand how technology can be leveraged to support the basic needs of migrants and refugees.


Klaus Mayr, class of 2021, is from Charlotte, NC and is studying geography.  Klaus participated in the Global Gap Year Fellowshi[p program prior to his first year at UNC. He is the Community Engagement Coordinator at the Community Empowerment Fund and is very involved in UNC’s geography department. This summer, he will travel to Bogotá, Colombia where he will be a visiting researcher at Universidad Javeriana, studying how rural migrants have shaped the economic dynamics of certain neighborhoods in the city. He will be conducting interviews and creating maps with the communities he works with to illustrate the diverse economic practices that exist and how people are talking about them.


Read more about the Burch Fellowship here.