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Dr. Donyell Roseboro Receives Sanders Student Advocate Award

Monday, April 25, 2022

Dr. Donyell Roseboro, professor and UNCW chief diversity officer, is the recipient of the 2022 John L. Sanders Student Advocate Award, the highest honor bestowed by the University of North Carolina Association of Student Governments.

The Sanders Award recognizes individuals who advocate for the best interests of North Carolina students and contribute to the quality of their lives. The award’s namesake devoted more than 60 years to public service in the state and is described by his alma mater, UNC-Chapel Hill, as “a tireless public servant” and “crucial agent of positive change for North Carolina’s institutions and citizens.”

“Knowing that John Sanders worked to end segregated public meetings at UNC-Chapel Hill in the 1950s means everything as I receive this award,” said Dr. Roseboro. “It matters because he paved the way for me to serve as student body vice president at UNC-Chapel Hill. That experience in student government changed my life’s trajectory and, in many ways, led me to a faculty position at UNCW, a university that prioritizes student well-being and engagement.”

Dr. Roseboro was among nominees from across the UNC System, which includes 17 schools. She was nominated by the UNCW student government delegation led by Robby Fensom, 2021-22 student body president.

"Dr. Roseboro cares for each student, recognizing the unique and powerful stories that we each possess. This appreciation of individuals serves as a cornerstone for her leadership," said Fensom.

The award nomination highlighted Dr. Roseboro’s powerful impact on students within the Watson College of Education; her service to the Wilmington community through teaching financial literacy; and her boundless efforts as chief diversity officer to foster collaborative relationships with student leaders that have led to positive change and growth on campus. Calling her “beloved,” the nomination also commended Dr. Roseboro for leading the charge to establish scholarships to better attract and support students of color at UNCW.

“Dr. Roseboro is one of UNCW’s gems,” said newly elected SGA President Hannah-Valentina Horowitz. “She is an incredible advocate for students and puts them at the center of her work. She is someone who has always made an effort to really connect with students on a personal level – taking time to understand them and value their stories. Her kindness, work ethic and dedication to the university makes her someone I will always admire. She truly embodies this award, and I am so incredibly grateful that she is the named recipient.”

Under Dr. Roseboro’s leadership, the university has launched several initiatives, including NextGen Post-Doctoral Fellowship opportunities (for doctoral candidates who hope to join UNCW faculty), the Diversity and Inclusion Fellows Program, and a new Bridge Program, scheduled to start in summer session II, which provides transitional support to college students from underrepresented populations. She oversaw major renovations of Centro Hispano and the Upperman African American Cultural Center and is facilitating the opening of a new Asian Heritage Cultural Center for UNCW. Dr. Roseboro also leads the “Know Me” Committee, which is working to expand gender, pronoun and preferred name options in campus data systems, and she facilitates the Chancellor’s Renewal and Change Accountability Committee that reviews the university’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

A professor in the Department of Instructional Technology, Foundations and Secondary Education, Dr. Roseboro has excelled at helping the Watson College of Education strengthen partnerships with hundreds of K-12 schools across southeastern North Carolina, building trust between the university and the communities served by the schools.

Dr. Roseboro also played an integral role in the successful launch of the university’s laboratory school, D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy, in 2018; served as director of WCE’s Professional Development System from 2011-14; collaborated with Dr. Jen Fernandez-Villa on two Fulbright Teaching Excellence & Achievement grants; partnered with three other faculty members to receive a Fulbright-Hays Group Study Abroad grant; and led three study abroad trips to South Africa. She also held leadership roles as a department chair for three years and as Associate Dean of Teacher Education and Outreach from July 2017-December 2018.

She holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum & Teaching/Cultural Studies from UNCG, a master’s degree in history from Wake Forest University, and a bachelor’s in secondary education from UNC-Chapel Hill.

“I am forever grateful to outgoing student body President Robby Fensom, Vice-President Thomas Wilson, Director of Diversity and Inclusion Kaitlin Martinez-Gonzalez and the entire SGA leadership for their collaboration this past year and for nominating me for this award,” said Roseboro. “As we welcome incoming SGA president Hannah Horowitz, Vice President Sadie Williams, and a host of new SGA leaders, I am inspired by them and hopeful that we can continue to make this a more inclusive campus, one where no Seahawk feels isolated and every Seahawk acts against injustice.”

Roseboro was presented with the Sanders Award at an awards luncheon at Western Carolina University on April 23, 2022.

-- Krissy Vick