Making an Impact

The Princeton Review ranks UNC Asheville No. 1 in the Nation

From service days to social entrepreneurship, UNC Asheville students understand the value of giving back and making an impact on their community and world. Now, that pairing of purpose and passion has a new number – No. 1, as UNC Asheville earns the top spot on The Princeton Review’s annual list of “Best Schools for Making an Impact.”

The ranking, released in February 2016, recognizes schools with the best community service opportunities, student governments, sustainability, and on-campus student engagement, as well as graduates with high job meaning.

See the news release here.

Community Engagement

Each winter, UNC Asheville students and employees brave the cold to spend what would be a day off as a Day On in service to the community for MLK Day. In 2016, more than 140 individuals engaged with the community, gaining hands on experience in the Shiloh Community Garden and community gardens on UNC Asheville’s campus, and helping to build a new home with Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity. Others volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club of Buncombe County, organized and packed boxes at the YMCA food pantry, or helped to clean litter off the roadside with Asheville Greenworks. Read more at

UNC Asheville students Madison Eddings and Ben Eisdorfer first developed their business idea in an interdisciplinary social entrepreneurship class team taught by Management Professor Mary Lynn Manns and her colleagues. After winning the campus competition, the biology and management majors wowed the state, earning the grand prize from the 2015 UNC Social Entrepreneurship Conference across all UNC system schools – $3,000 to launch their business idea, Pro(TECH)t, wearable technology designed to prevent sexual assault. They also won the regional InnovateHer Competition this fall. Read about their statewide success at

Paige Love is one of many student-athletes for whom “Our Town. Our Team.” is more than a hashtag. When she arrived on campus four years ago, she was already accustomed to volunteering in her hometown of North Wilkesboro. So continuing and leading teammates in the service work that builds a strong campus-community connection, she says, was “normal” for her. Love volunteers at the Shiloh Community Association garden, the YMCA in downtown Asheville, Asheville City Schools and is a mentor and friend to Elijah Roberts, a Special Olympics athlete. Read more about this game changer and her teammate junior KJ Weaver at

Art and engineering students teamed up in our Creative Fabrication class to make assistive technologies, such as a cane that can help you climb mountains. They worked through 3D modeling and printing and bronze and aluminum casting to envision the possibilities of design, while creating pieces that are both beautiful and functional. Their prototypes are primed to change the world. Read more at

Maya Newlin

Student Leadership

Maya Newlin redefines what it means to be a cheerleader when she takes to the court with the Bulldog Cheer and Dance team or builds on her platform of diversity and inclusion as the 2015-16 Student Government Association President. The senior double major in political science and sociology with a minor in Africana studies and a pre-med focus, also founded Shades of Color student publication and led a fall rally for Black Lives Matter, advancing dialogue and discussion about important issues across campus. Read more:

James WhalenJames Whalen gets out the vote. As 2014-15 president of the Student Government Association, he led a university-wide bipartisan effort to educate and register UNC Asheville students to vote. The 2015 winner of the A.C. Reynolds Award and Thomas D. Reynolds Prize for Campus Service is now a president intern for the UNC system general administration. Read more:

Stephanie Watkins-CruzDuring her time in Asheville, Stephanie Watkins-Cruz was an adamant advocate for the advancement of girls and minority communities at home and abroad. Read more about her work with She’s the First, the State of Black Asheville and Campus Compact. Stephanie now serves on the Board of Directors of America’s Promise Alliance. Read more:

Anja MayrAfter taking several service-learning courses, Anja Mayr realized the great value of connecting academic study to community service experience, leading her to found UNC Asheville’s first living-learning community for Service-Learning, Leadership, and Social Justice (LEAD). Read more about this resident assistant and winner of the Community Impact Award from the North Carolina Campus Compact. Read more:

Sustaining Efforts

The first farm-to-table dinner on the Quad brought 175 community friends to the table in celebration of sustainability initiatives on campus. The feast featured food from neighbor organizations and produce grown directly on campus, from gardens managed by students. The Student Environmental Center envisioned and implemented the event. Read more at

UNC Asheville’s food connection grew during the fall semester. Dining Services partnered with Food Connection to donate at least 3,000 meals in fall 2015. It is expected that the university will donate an additional 9,000-12,000 meals during the remainder of the 2015-16 academic year. Students, faculty and staff joined in the Food Connection partnership, donating ingredients and volunteering their time to make 500 meals in a day. Read more at and

Recycling took center stage at UNC Asheville in 2015, as the campus celebrated 25 years of the recycling program. Staff and students held a trash audit on the Quad, and TheatreUNCA integrated sustainable practices into their performances. The student-directed Wiley and the Hairy Man used upcycled materials in the design of the set, costumes, and makeup. See the scenes at

UNC Asheville has long held a commitment to environmental conservation and sustainability, from cultivating campus gardens to energy efficiency measures in campus buildings to incorporating conservation into classes across the curriculum. It’s a calling many students take with them beyond the university and into their careers, such as the Washington, D.C. post held by Paul Beaton as senior program officer at the National Academy of Science and the local leadership of Katie Hicks, who works to protect drinking water in Asheville as the assistant director of Clean Water for North Carolina (CWFNC). Read more about these alumni making an impact at