Watson Chronicle


Watson College News

Janna Robertson Wins YWCA Women of Achievement Award

Sunday, June 04, 2017

WCE professor Janna Robertson has received multiple recognitions for her community engagement work on the ‘Forest of Dreams’ mural project.

In March she received a Certificate of Achievement from Cape Fear Community College for leading a service-learning partnership project between CFCC and the Watson College of Education. CFCC service learning coordinator Kate Sandhuff presented the award at the college’s inaugural Community Engagement Awards Celebration on March 28.

On April 5, Robertson was named WWAY’s Extraordinary Person of the Week for turning a 240-foot eyesore into a work of art and uniting a community in the process.

On May 4, Robertson was presented with a YWCA Woman of Achievement Award. UNCW announced the honor in a home page story on May 5.

The UNCW home page story announcing Robertson’s award is included in its entirety here (written by Trisha Vance, Office of University Relations):

Watson College of Education professor Janna Robertson received a YWCA Women of Achievement Award in a May 4 ceremony at the Wilmington Convention Center. Robertson earned the award in the Arts category for her community campaign to transform a bare concrete wall on the city’s Northside into a whimsical “Forest of Dreams.”

“Janna’s passion for engaging the community in ways that energize and inform her love of teaching is inspirational,” said WCE Dean Van Dempsey. “She has a talent for bringing together diverse groups of people to work on a shared goal, and UNCW is fortunate to have her on the faculty.”

Imaginative characters populate the colorful mural that fills a wall across from the after-school arts program Dreams of Wilmington.

Robertson involved UNCW undergraduate and graduate researchers to make the project a learning experience as well as a community event. She solicited 76 organizations, including schools, churches, nonprofits, businesses and individual volunteers to sponsor a creature of their own design. More than 600 volunteer painters helped bring the forest to life.

Other nominees from UNCW were Candace Ashton-Forrester, professor and coordinator of recreational therapy in the School of Health and Applied Human Sciences; diversity and inclusion specialist Kimberly McLaughlin-Smith of the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion; and senior communication studies major Rebecca Fernandez ’17.

Work Commemorating Development of the ‘Forest of Dreams’ Mural

Venita Jenkins, content and communications specialist in UNCW’s Office of University Relations, created a multimedia presentation highlighting work on the Forest of Dreams mural. The presentation, titled Forest of Dreams, Transforming a Community through Art, can be viewed here.

A new documentary, Brushstrokes, also showcases the transformation in downtown Wilmington. Jillian Carney ’17 created the documentary during her senior year as a film student at UNCW. The film, shown at a community screening on May 7, is currently on the festival circuit. A trailer can be viewed on Carney’s website.

Robertson was featured in Wilma Online on May 28. Another interview will appear in the July issue of Wilma Magazine.

For more information on the Forest of Dreams mural visit www.facebook.com/forestofdreamsmural.