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Two Bonner Leaders receive Francis L. Phillips Travel Scholarship

February 12, 2020 • Erin Reitz • No Comments

The Frances L. Phillips Travel Scholarship provides an opportunity for Juniors and Seniors in the College of Arts and Sciences at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who attended high school in North Carolina to engage in individual self-designed and directed international travel experiences for periods ranging from two months to six months. Approximately 20 Phillips Scholarships for up to $9,500 each are awarded each year.

Learn more about two recipients from the Campus Y below.

Joyce Malanda

During her junior year, Joyce Malanda (’19) shelved her dreams of pursuing medicine. Although she loved working as a nurse’s assistant at UNC Hospitals and volunteering as a doula, her passion for medicine soured inside the competitive, demanding classes that her pre-med major required. She resolved to graduate from Carolina with a Psychology degree pursue work in education policy, an area she’d become interested in during her Bonner service placements at Boomerang and Blackspace.

Then, she stepped on a plane to Cuba.

The summer before her final semester at UNC, Malanda embarked on her first international trip with Autonomous University of Social Movements (AUSM). She was excited to explore a new culture, practice a new language, and study race during her one-month visit; but the most transformative moment of the trip transpired in a setting that she didn’t expect: a healthcare clinic.

Malanda and her AUSM cohort toured the clinic to learn about Cuba’s health systems, but Malanda saw more than the doctors in front of her – she saw her future.

“One doctor told us about why she was doing the work that she did and it opened my eyes to a completely new way of seeing health,” Malanda explained. “lt looked radically different than it does in the United States. Health care providers there want to look out for their neighbors and want people to be healthy. It’s not about getting money.”

This conversation inspired Malanda to reconsider her choice to extinguish her desire to help others through healthcare.

“A switch went off in my head and I realized that in order to dismantle systems of oppression that profit off of peoples’ suffering, I have to be involved in that system,” Malanda remembered. “I was like ‘Maybe I can be a doctor, but just a different kind of doctor with a different kind of philosophy.’”

Since that trip, Joyce has refocused her energy on becoming the kind of doctor she always wanted to be. She has been accepted into UNC Greensboro’s post-baccalaureate premedical program, which she will begin this fall. But before landing back in the classroom, Malanda will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo this summer, thanks to UNC’s Frances L. Phillips Travel Scholarship.

“When I first found out that the Phillips Travel Scholarship allows you to design your own study abroad experience, I was terrified,” Malanda said. “But I went for it. That’s the thing about me. If it scares me, I’m going to do it.”

Malanda, who is a first-generation U.S. citizen, has created a trip that is uniquely her own. The Phillips Scholarship will allow her to continue exploring her interest in medicine as a research assistant with a team studying pregnant women and the transmission of HIV. And Malanda will also get to explore the country where her parents grew up and meet many family members for the first time.

“This trip is about way more than my profession,” Malanda said. “I’ll be digging into my personal calling and my identity. I’m going to learn more about medicine, research, language, culture, and more about myself.”

Araseli Valverde

As one of the Campus Y’s two 2018-2019 Bridge Year Fellows, Araseli Valverde (’20) took a year away from Carolina to engage in a different kind of learning that couldn’t be found in a classroom.

For the majority of her Bridge Year, Valverde worked with refugee migrant male minors in Siciliy, Italy. Because of the island’s close proximity to the coast of northern Africa, dozens of migrants and asylum seekers from countries like Libya and Tunisia reach Siciliy’s shores by boat every day.

At the refugee center, Valverde welcomed young migrants and supported them through the challenges that come from starting anew in a foreign country. She taught self-care classes and encouraged the boys to see themselves as part of their community. They went on daily outings to coffee shops and the public library to learn and practice Italian.

Over the course of four months, Valverde cultivated meaningful relationships with many of the migrants.

“Getting to travel internationally for the first time and taking part in service were great components of my Bridge Year, but the best part, by far, was the people I met,” Valverde said.

Although she had to return UNC to finish her degree, Valverde has remained invested in Italy’s refugee crisis and stayed in touch with many of the boys she befriended. Through The Frances L. Phillips Travel Scholarship, she will be able to return to Europe and continue exploring what lies beyond her comfort zone.

“As a first-generation student and a woman of color, I didn’t feel comfortable venturing too far during my Bridge Year,” Valverde explained. “I almost see this opportunity as part two of my Bridge Year. I want to do what I didn’t get to do the first time around and do the things that I enjoyed again.”

Valverde is most excited to spend more time building relationships with her students. The Phillips Travel Scholarship will allow her to reconnect with some of the migrants she initially met in Italy who have relocated to different countries. During her trip she will examine how language makes a difference in a migrant’s journey.

“Have they retained their Italian? Or do migrants have to continuously leave and learn new languages depending on where they find home?” Valverde asked. This curiosity will guide her three-month journey through Spain, France, Germany, and Italy.

After this trip, Valverde wants to further expand her identity as a global citizen. She’s currently considering fellowship opportunities, UNC’s TransAtlantic Master’s Program, and a position with the Peace Corps. No matter what she decides to do post-grad, one thing is for certain: it will involve travel.

“I love that new countries, new people, and new cultures are just a plane ride away,” she said. “I just have to pick up my stuff and go.”

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