CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Six Tar Heel student-athletes or teams were recently announced as this year's winners of Atlantic Coast Conference Top Six for Service Awards. The honor goes to individuals or teams at each ACC member school who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to community service.
UNC's winners for 2016-17 are:
• Leila Evans, Field Hockey
• Nazair Jones, Football
• Kayla Miles, Women's Lacrosse
• Bryana Nguyen, Women's Golf
• Mark Rizzo, Men's Lacrosse
• Carolina Softball Team
The honors were first announced at the Rammy Awards on April 24.
As a group, Carolina student-athletes have devoted approximately 5,000 hours to community outreach activities over the past year. These six winners have distinguished themselves further by volunteering frequently, organizing their teammates and mounting impactful initiatives.
Evans, a sophomore from Charlotte, has been involved in many community service events throughout campus and the Chapel Hill community, both on her own and as a member of the field hockey team. As a member of UNC's Student-Athlete Advisory Council, she organized a Project Life Bone Marrow Drive that resulted in 90 new additions to the national registry. She has volunteered at local elementary schools and at various UNC Hospital events, also organizing events for her team.
Jones, a junior from Roanoke Rapids, N.C., founded M.A.D.E. Men Mentoring, an outreach program that helps guide young men towards their dreams. M.A.D.E. stands for "Making A Difference Every Day," and the organization aims to impact youngsters by pairing them with college student-athletes and young professionals who can act as mentors and lay the foundation for long-term friendship and guidance. In addition, Jones has been very active with the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill, frequently volunteering and organizing opportunities for his football teammates.
Miles, a senior from Watertown, N.Y., is very involved in service both on her own and as her team's Carolina Outreach representative. She has served in this role since her sophomore year, becoming more active each year. Women's lacrosse has been a leader in community service in 2016-17, and Miles is a huge reason for the team's increased impact. She has organized numerous service opportunities including Habitat for Humanity builds, participation in the Share Your Holiday program, visits to the Cedars Retirement Home, and visits to the UNC Children's Hospital, UNC Burn Center, and UNC Bone Marrow Unit. Organized and dependable, Miles is a great role model and an excellent example of leadership through service.
Nguyen, a junior from Columbia, Md., has displayed dedication and commitment to community service and has been a leader in organizing service opportunities for the women's golf team. She and her teammates have volunteered at local elementary schools and the UNC Children's Hospital, have participated in the Share Your Holiday program, and have been active in support of Academic All-Stars and Relay for Life. Nguyen also has taken an active role in outreach with the Cedars Retirement Home. She assisted residents who attended a UNC men's basketball game and also organized an outing to attend a UNC golf tournament.
Rizzo, a senior from Hewlett, N.Y., has served as the community service liaison for the men's lacrosse team for the past two years. This year, the team made service one of its core values, and Rizzo did a tremendous job of encouraging and coordinating all community outreach events. Among the team's projects were a Habitat for Humanity build and frequent visits to the UNC and Duke Children's Hospitals, local elementary schools and the Cedars Retirement Home. The team and coaching staff donated $800 of their own money for the Share Your Holiday program to provide Christmas gifts to several needy families.
Community service has been a priority for the softball team this year, and the Tar Heels have certainly made an impact off the field. Once a month, the entire team participates in a community service project. The players have made multiple visits to UNC Hospitals, including one instance in which they made fleece blankets for patients at the Cancer Hospital. They've also participated in the Pen Pal and Share Your Holiday programs, and have volunteered at local elementary schools and the Charles House Eldercare Center. They recently teamed with the Town of Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Department to help construct a dog park, leaving a lasting mark on the town.