Seven students selected as 2015 Burch Fellows

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Seven students selected as 2015 Burch Fellows


(Chapel Hill, N.C.—June 9, 2015) – Seven students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were selected as recipients of the 2015 Burch Fellowship to pursue unique and self-initiated proposed 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 program supports self-designed projects 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.


To be chosen as a Burch Fellow, an applicant must give convincing evidence of exceptional intellectual, creative, civic, or leadership ability and promise through the application, recommendations, and personal interview. The proposed fellowship experience should be one that will 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. Financial support of up to $6,000 is available for undergraduate students pursuing unique endeavors anywhere outside of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.


Peter Cooke, class of 2017, is from Baltimore, Maryland, and is pursuing a double major in Asian studies and economics, with a minor in French. He will be spending eight weeks researching the asylum-seeking experience and working with two Syrian refugee aid associations in Paris, France.


Sophie Capshaw-Mack, class of 2017, is from Winston-Salem, and is majoring in journalism and mass communication and minoring in both English and religious studies. This summer she will be filming a documentary for the Namibia Chapter of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWENA).


Katherine “Max” Gandy, class of 2016, is from Silver Spring, Maryland, and is pursuing a double major in global studies and Hispanic literature & cultures, with a minor in geography. She will be spending both her summer and her fall semester living in Latin America to study cacao and craft chocolate making.


Ankita Jain, class of 2017, is from Gaithersburg, Maryland, and is majoring in psychology and minoring in both biology and chemistry. She will travel to Indonesia to study performative customs of traditional medicine and spiritual healing in Bali, such as ceremonies, religious offerings, and healer-client interactions.


Izzy Pinheiro, class of 2017, is from Albany, New York, and is pursuing double majors in psychology and English and is minoring in medicine, literature and culture. She will be working with the Triangle Project, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Cape Town, South Africa, and she hopes to elucidate the cultural mechanisms that produce the identities and stereotypes that shape the lived realities of those within the LGBTI population through extracting and analyzing narratives produced by and about black lesbians in Cape Town.


Dana Rodriguez, class of 2017, is from St. Louis, Missouri, and is majoring in both psychology and art history with a minor in Hispanic studies. She will travel to Spain and Italy to analyze the artistic nature, principles, and profound symbolism of three types of doorways as essential elements of organizing space: religious doors, doors of personal residences, and doors of burial sites.


Alexandra Willcox, class of 2017, is a Chapel Hill native majoring in both environmental health sciences and French. This summer she will spend two months working with MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry to study vectors of infectious disease at the URMITE laboratory in Marseille, France, in collaboration with the public health service of the city.


Read more about the Burch Fellowships on the Burch Fellows Program website.




About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 78 bachelor’s, 112 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in all 100 counties. Carolina’s 304,000-plus alumni live in all 50 states and 150 countries, and more than 159,000 live in North Carolina.


Burch Fellows Program contact: Gina Difino, (919) 962-9680,


Communications and Public Affairs Contact: Helen Buchanan, (919) 445-8555,