Six students selected as 2024 Burch Fellows

Six students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s College of Arts and Sciences Class of 2025 were selected as recipients of the 2024 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 their lives and enable them to pursue a passionate interest in a way – and to a degree not otherwise possible – on campus. Funding of up to $7,000 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, an internship, or an enrichment program. All Carolina undergraduates who meet eligibility requirements may apply. 

Below are the 2024 cohort of Burch Fellows: 

Sabrina Krupenko (’25) is from Fayetteville, North Carolina. She is majoring in environmental sciences and minoring in chemistry. Fueled by her passion for a just energy transition, Sabrina will travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico where she will collaborate with Resilient Power Puerto Rico to evaluate climate resiliency strategies and community solutions to energy poverty. She will research people-first policy solutions to implement solar energy systems and microgrids in rural Puerto Rico, conduct energy assessments, and consult with local community members on energy education. As a part of her fellowship, Sabrina will document Resilient Power Puerto Rico’s solar installations and impact by mapping Puerto Rico’s current solar communities. After her time at Carolina, Sabrina plans on attending law school. 

Valeria Orozco (’25) was born in Colombia, but raised in Greensboro, NC. A junior at Carolina, Valeria is studying geological sciences and geography with a minor in social and economic justice. Driven by her interest in the convergence of land and water processes among indigenous peoples, Valeria intends to use her Burch Fellowship to travel to Tena and Archidona, Ecuador. There, she will collaborate with indigenous communities in the Amazon River basin to help document and map oral histories in connection with their spatial and landscape dynamics. Following her time at Carolina, Valeria plans on pursuing service work with the US Peace Corps.  

Claire Pringle (’25) is a Guilford, CT native studying neuroscience with a minor in chemistry. Claire will use her Burch Fellowship to study at La Selva, a preserved ecosystem research facility in Costa Rica. She will extend her previous work in the Burmeister Lab on Chapel Hill’s campus by testing animal personality traits of individual Dendrobates auratus poison frogs. She hopes to establish a go-to personality test that the Burmeister Lab can use for future projects. Claire is most excited to learn from the incredible scientists at the facility who value environmental conservation and global collaboration. Upon graduation, she intends to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience. 

Eleazar Yisrael (’25) is from Fayetteville, NC and is double-majoring in media & journalism and communication studies. With his passion for visual storytelling, Eleazar will travel to Salt Lake City, Utah where he will inquire about the impact of Utah’s Social Media Regulation Act. Eleazar has an interest in understanding the impact of social media on adolescent development and intends to interview residents of Utah (being the first state to pass such an act) to see if the legislation is viewed as a support or an infringement on individual rights. He will compile his findings and will document his experience in a documentary. After his time as a Carolina undergraduate has ended, Eleazar wants to pursue a Ph.D. in communications and a career in journalism.  

Alexis Siegler (’25) came to Carolina from Decatur, Georgia, and is studying neuroscience and political science. For her Burch Fellowship, Alexis will travel to a rural research medical clinic in Uganda to examine the post-discharge persistence of severe malaria symptoms among children. This research will include associated risk factors and how they contribute to ongoing morbidity and mortality. While in Uganda, Alexis will build off her experience with vector-borne diseases at UNC’s VEER Hub by working with the MUST-UNC Collaboration to conduct home visits to patients, engage with their medical team, and assist with ongoing projects focused on malaria prevention. She embarks on her Burch Fellowship journey with a goal of improving the lives of disadvantaged and medically challenged populations. After graduating from Carolina, Alexis wishes to attend medical school. 

Abby Rogers (’25) is a third-year student from Cary, NC studying English and comparative literature with minors in history and African American & diasporic studies. With the support of the Burch Fellowship, Rogers will embark on a journey following the route of the slaving ship, Venus, traveling to Cape Coast, Ghana, Liverpool and London, England, and Charleston, South Carolina. The work on her Burch Fellowship will lay the groundwork for her senior Honors thesis, which will focus on evaluating the successes and failures of sites of remembrance along the aforementioned trade route. Upon graduation, Abby hopes to obtain her Ph.D. in comparative literature or attend law school. 

Read more about the Burch Fellowship here or explore the 2023 Burch Fellows project posters and videos on our Past Burch Fellows page.