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STEM at Wake – A Cool Learning Experience and a Taste of Wake Forest

On Wednesday April 9 and Thursday April 10, prospective Wake Forest University students visited campus for STEM at Wake, a program showcasing the various ways in which Wake Forest students can engage in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

They worked with Paul Whitener, an information systems staff member, to complete an electric circuit that powered an electronic keyboard of sorts. On one end of the circuit was a piece of tin foil; on the other were various pieces of fruit.

The whole system was plugged into a laptop.

The note that rang out from the laptop changed, depending on which piece of fruit was touched to complete the circuit.

“You’re going to go home and say ‘That was really cool, but what can we actually do with it?’” Whitener said to the group, one of a dozen small groups of prospective students participating in STEM labs Thursday.

Whitener said the fruit keyboard is a fun way to demonstrate the work being done in the computer science department, where students work to find ways to make technology accessible to people with disabilities. Finding alternatives for people who can’t operate a traditional computer keyboard or smartphone is just one example.

About 60 high school students from around the country who have been admitted to Wake Forest for the fall semester visited Thursday to get a taste of the science and technology work being done on campus. It serves to give students who have committed to Wake a look at their options and perhaps help sway those who’ve yet to make up their minds.

“I’ve gotten a favorable impression,” said Rose O’Brien, a Reynolds High School senior who’s interested in biology. “I’m looking for openness of mind, because I think creativity is just as important in science (as art).”

STEM at Wake is part of the statewide effort to expose more students to the types of work available in STEM fields. Each group of students rotated through six labs, introducing them to a variety of departments. Lance Henry, assistant director of Wake Forest’s Institute for Public Engagement, said the event works to open students’ eyes up to a future they may otherwise have a hard time imagining. On Wednesday, a similar program was held for students at 12 local public high schools who aren’t necessarily attending Wake Forest.

“It’s to help them imagine their future in college and in a profession,” Henry said. “Doctors are easy to imagine, because that’s how most of us interact with science. It’s not the same for some of the research and technology that’s available in these fields that we’re showing them.”

It was an enlightening day for David Stancil, a senior at Calvary Baptist Day School. Stancil said he knows he wants to pursue a degree in the sciences and is considering medicine, but hasn’t made up his mind. He liked the options offered by Wake Forest.

“I like that it’s a liberal arts school with strong science and medicine (programs),” he said. “I’m not 100 percent sure what I want to do for undergrad in the sciences, so this is a nice day to see all of that.”

This article was featured in the Winston-Salem Journal and the event also covered on WFMY News 2 and photos may be found at Flickr.

Paving a brighter path!

Nonprofit immersion program sends students into the Winston-Salem community!

News 14 Features IPE Summer Nonprofit Immersion Program!

Highlighting 2013 Summer Nonprofit Interns and their Community Partners

Click on Highlighting Summer 2013 Students and Community Partners

Final Innovative Spring Engaged Teaching Luncheon Discussion

The Institute for Public Engagement invites you to REGISTER for our final innovative Spring Fellows & Friends Luncheon 
Join engaged faculty from 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. in Reynolda Hall 301.
Inspired colleagues share their experience and insights followed by open discussion. 
Lunch is provided.

Engaging about Hunger – a Topic for Every Discipline


Monday April 1


“Food – food access, food quality, food production – is one of the defining issues of this generation.” Forsyth County ranks as one of the highest for childhood hunger in the nation and the causes and consequences are complex – hunger needs to be addressed through the lens of every discipline. Speakers will share about opportunities for engaging students to think critically about hunger and initiate action to bring about change.

Dr. Mark Jensen, Associate Professor, School of Divinity, and his colleagues, noting the rise of food-related challenges such as hunger, obesity, food access, and ecological damage from agriculture, established the Food, Faith and Religious Leadership Initiative to equip leaders with the knowledge and skills necessary to lead their congregations and communities around food issues. Together with Dr. Sara Quandt he teaches “Faith, Food Justice and Local Communities.”

Dr. Sara Quandt, Professor of Public Health Sciences, was named “Outstanding Researcher” by the National Rural Health Association (NRHA). She conducted a study of community gardens and farmers markets to assess their role in Forsyth County and made recommendations to enhance their success in improving the local food environment.  She involves many Wake Forest undergraduate and graduate students in her work.
Shelley Sizemore, Assistant Director of Campus Life/Service, oversees campus-wide community initiatives including Campus Kitchen, a food recycling program that uses cooked but never served food from the campus dining hall to make healthy and nutritious meals for the needy of our community.  She is a recognized food justice advocate and has presented on ” Building Community Relationships to Reduce Waste and Combat Hunger.”
Lunch will be provided!

Wake Forest named to 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll

Wake Forest has been named to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.  The University is one of 28 schools in North Carolina to be recognized for engaging its students, faculty and staff in meaningful service that achieves measurable results in the community.

Spring 2013 Engaged Teaching Luncheon Discussion Series


The Institute for Public Engagement promotes engaged teaching that fosters critical thinking, gives each student a voice, and encourages students to engage with issues affecting the Wake Forest community and the community beyond.  

Within the broader concept of engaged teaching is the recognized pedagogy of service-learning, usually involving direct service to meet community needs. Other forms of engaged teaching may not involve such service but nevertheless engage students in the process of identifying and understanding community issues.   

The purpose of this discussion series is to afford faculty the opportunity to share their ideas, challenges, and rewards relating to engaged teaching and to be of mutual inspiration in an enjoyable, informal setting.  

The Institute is proud to announce its Spring 2013 Lunch Discussion Series to be held in Reynolda Hall Room 301 from 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. on


Monday February 4

Topic:  Engaged Teaching relating to Systemic Social Change.

Description:  “Systemic social change delves behind immediate problems, involves new ways of applying resources to underlying causes and results in tangible and enduring benefits.”  Skoll Foundation.  Faculty will share best practices to engage students to think critically and initiate action to bring about systemic change. 

Potential Speakers:  Stephen Boyd (Religion) , Peter Gilbert (Documentary Film), Mark Wilson (Public Health/Translational Science)



Monday March 4

Topic:  Engaging Students to Think Critically

 Description:  Featured Faculty will share how they encourage students to think critically (analyze, assess, reconstruct) as part of teaching in their respective disciplines.  

 Potential Speakers:  Cindy Gendrich (Theatre), Paul Thacker (Anthropology), Gloria Muday (Biology),  Hana Brown (Sociology)


Monday April 1

Topic:   Engaging about Hunger – a Topic for Every Discipline

 Description:  Hunger can (and should) be addressed through the lens of every discipline – Forsyth County ranks as one of the highest for childhood hunger in the nation and the causes and consequences are complex. Speakers will share their ideas and best practices for engaging students to think critically about hunger and initiate action to bring about change.  

 Potential Speakers:  Grace Wetzel (English), Sara Quandt (Translational Science  food justice), Mark Jensen (Divinity),  Shelley Graves (Campus Life – Campus Kitchens)


Join us by registering for one or more sessions at .


Lunch will be served!


Celebrating Wake Community Law & Business Clinic

This month, the Community Law & Business Clinic will complete its fourth year as part of the Wake Forest University School of Law.  Over this short time, the Clinic has had a marked impact on our students, clients and community and as we end the year I would like to highlight some of the work that was accomplished this last year and pass along a few notes about 2013.

Practice and Impact  – The Clinic provides an interdisciplinary forum for law, business and divinity students to work on community economic development projects across North Carolina.  We work in four practice areas – Nonprofit Law and Capacity Building; Small Business Development; ARTSLaw; and Foreclosure Defense.

28 students participated in the Clinic during 2012 and assisted 148 clients with projects in one of our four practice areas.  These students provided more than 5,000 hours of pro bono professional services to targeted needs in our community.   31 families facing foreclosure were assisted by the Clinic in 2012.  Since 2009, 133 students have practiced in the Community Law Clinic and have worked on more than 600 individual matters for small businesses, nonprofits, artists and families facing foreclosure.  This represents more than 23,500 hours of pro bono professional service, equaling an in-kind investment of more than $2.9 million in our community.  Moreover, this investment is targeted to local community economic development efforts leading to even greater impact.  By any measure, the Community Law & Business Clinic is having a significant impact with our students and across our community.

Going Forward – The Community Law & Business Clinic will undergo several significant changes during 2013.  While continuing our core practice areas within Community Economic Development, the ARTSLaw practice will expand to serve more artists and arts based nonprofits.  This is in response to the increasing interest in arts-based economic development in North Carolina.  Also, an additional practice area will be added to advise clients who are assembling capital for community development efforts, a growing need in the increasingly entrepreneurial world of social ventures.  Both of these developments will be described in depth in the clinic’s revised website, which will launch in mid January 2013.

Finally, as part of the  School of Law’s overall strategy to locate clinics within Worrell Hall, the Community Law & Business Clinic will relocate to the Wake Forest campus during the summer of 2013.  The move presents both a challenge and an opportunity for enhancing our practice and more information will be available this spring.

As we close 2012, I look forward to another successful year that matches our students with needs in our community.  As always, I appreciate your insights and your input is always welcome.

All the best,

Steve Virgil, Director of Community Law & Business Clinic, Director of Institute for Public Engagement, Wake Forest University


Great News from Dr. Hana Brown ACE Fellow 2011-12

Hana E. Brown, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology has exciting news about students in her fall Sociology 360: Social Inequality class.  Instead of having her students jump right into service learning this term, Dr. Brown decided to have them do group projects which involved researching a particular aspect of social inequality in Winston Salem, reaching out to local organizations working on the issue, and using sociological research to propose a potential project that Wake Forest students could initiate to help out.

They  recently completed their final presentations for the course.  “My students did a wonderful job on all sorts of topics (gay rights, immigration, sports, secondary education, adoption, etc).  But the most exciting result from the project is that the group studying health inequality actually formed a partnership with the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity (MACHE) through their research.  MACHE is working on health access issues with local adults, and my students are joining forces with them to add a child health education component to the new MACHE program.  They are starting to research grant opportunities to ensure the project has adequate funding and gets off on the right foot, and they have masterfully used the sociological research on health inequalities to identify likely barriers to implementation and possible solutions.”

Congratulates Dr. Brown for availing your students of these engaged learning opportunities and to your students for achieving a sustainable outcome!


Center for Community Solutions – Call for Proposals – Deadline Dec. 21, 2012

The Institute for Public Engagement is pleased to announce its call for proposal for the Center for Community Solutions. The Center for Community Solutions is a new enterprise that builds upon the successes of IPE’s Engaged Scholarship Initiative where faculty and community partners collaborate to promote positive social change throughout Winston-Salem.

The Center for Community Solutions aims to rethink traditional academic research in an effort to better serve Winston-Salem; develop greater support for community based projects; and, foster a more cooperative environment and open lines of communication between Wake Forest’s faculty and the Winston-Salem community. Efforts are underway to hold four, Community Partners-WFU Faculty workshops during the upcoming Spring semester. Community-identified topics include: homelessness, educational child readiness, infant health and teen pregnancy.

Click on CCS 2013 Application for the full call. Interested faculty are encouraged to take part in the inaugural cohort during the Spring 2013 semester. The deadline for submitting a proposal for the CC is December 21, 2012. For more information, contact Prof. Sherri Clark or Steve Virgil