Public Health Assistant Professor Recipient of Prestigious Peace Corps Award

12/20 - Public Health Assistant Professor Sabrina Cherry has won the 2020 Franklin H. Williams Award.

Public Health Assistant Professor Recipient of Prestigious Peace Corps AwardThe Franklin H. Williams Award recognizes ethnically diverse returned Peace Corps volunteers who demonstrate a lifelong commitment to civic engagement, service, diversity, inclusion and world peace to the Peace Corps' Third Goal of promoting a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans. Cherry is one of six recipients of the award.

“The awards spotlight the commitment of these champions of service, those who unselfishly put others before themselves,” Director Jody Olsen said at the virtual event. “We celebrate those whose journeys of service often began with their own service as Peace Corps Volunteers.”

Cherry has worked for nearly 20 years in public health. Her professional experience started as a Peace Corps volunteer in The Gambia, West Africa from 2001-03. She realized her love for the field of public health while living and serving in Gambia, where she focused on creating sustainable income for women. To this day, community-based work is at the center of what she does, and her work continues to be shaped by diversity, as well as equity.

As a public health practitioner, Cherry collaborated on community health needs assessments for the Greater Atlanta affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and two rural Georgia hospitals; provided technical assistance to faith-based mini-grant recipients in Southwest Georgia; and worked on a food insecurity and medication-adherence pilot study for persons living with HIV/AIDS. Cherry joined the public health faculty at the College of Health and Human Services in 2017.

“Peace Corps remains the gift that keeps giving,” Cherry said. “At UNCW, I use my experience as a volunteer to encourage students to travel—if even domestically, study abroad, pursue nontraditional routes of post graduate education and training and learn about other cultures. Receiving this award 20 years after I submitted my Peace Corps application is an honor and a reminder of the work we get to do in fulfilling the third goal of the U.S. Peace Corps: to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans. What a timely reminder to recommit to the understanding of other people.”

Cherry earned a Master of Science Public Health (MSPH) degree from the University of South Carolina, a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) from Emory University and a Doctorate of Public Health (DrPH), as a well as a Certificate in Interdisciplinary Qualitative Research from the University of Georgia.

“Dr. Cherry’s focus on real-world public health issues embodies the College of Health and Human Services’ vision of enhancing health and the quality of life of local and global communities,” School of Health and Applied Human Sciences Director Steve Elliott said. “Dr. Cherry doesn’t just talk the talk; she walks the walks. She is an inspiration and role model to our students who have seen how she is able to infuse her Peace Corp experiences into her teaching, scholarship and community engaged service work.  She is very deserving of this award and we are extremely proud of her.”

“Way to go Dr. Cherry,” CHHS Dean Charles Hardy said. “I was so happy to be able to attend the 2020 Award Ceremony. She is truly a public service HERO. We salute you Dr. Cherry!”

The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the United States to work with communities and create lasting change. Volunteers develop sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, community economic development, agriculture, the environment and youth development. Through their Peace Corps experience, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a lifelong commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today's global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 240,000 Americans of all ages have served in 141 countries worldwide.