Margaret Rawlings


Tenth Annual Blood Drive

During a month when blood donations are especially scarce, the 2019 49ers4Life blood drive took place Jan. 29 and Jan. 30 in the Student Activity Center.

Multiple UNC Charlotte student organizations and other university units helped to coordinate the blood drive this past week, giving all students, faculty, alumni and community members twice the opportunity to respond to the great need for donations.

“Winter is one of the toughest times for the American Red Cross to collect enough blood to meet patient needs,” said Jillian Butler, Donor Recruitment Manager for the American Red Cross. “When the UNC Charlotte community comes together for this drive, they can help boost the blood supply and ultimately offer hope to sick children, cancer patients and accident victims.”

In previous years, the 49ers4Life blood drive has come close to its goal but never quite hit the mark. Hilda Hiott with the American Red Cross says, “This year, they came close to reaching the goal of 700 pints by collecting 591 pints of blood.”

This donation will make a big difference during a time when blood products are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in, making every bit count.

According to the American Red Cross, one pint of blood can help save up to three lives, which means that university donors could help save more than 2,100 lives by reaching their goal.

Those who came out to show support for the 49ers received an “I Bleed 49ers Green” long-sleeved T-shirt and were entered into drawings for spirit gear from Barnes & Noble at UNC Charlotte and a parking permit for the academic year of 2019. Presenting donors were also provided with free food from several area restaurants.

“Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. It is essential for surgeries, cancer treatment, chronic illnesses and traumatic injuries,” said Maya Franklin with the American Red Cross. “Whether a patient receives whole blood, red cells, platelets or plasma, this lifesaving care starts with one person making a generous donation.”

The American Red Cross encourages the Charlotte community and people around the world to roll up their sleeves and bleed green. The process only takes about one hour to give the gift of life.

From prominent protestor to popular politician

The Young Americans For Liberty hosted Councilman Braxton Winston here at UNC Charlotte on Jan. 16. The student organization strives to advance liberty on campus and in American electoral politics. This libertarian group’s four-step mission is to identify, educate, train and mobilize youth activists.

During the event, Winston spoke about his own political journey, the militarization of police, aspects of criminal justice reform, the drug war, the racial bias within the criminal justice system and how each of these issues restricts individual liberty.

Winston was born in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina where his father was stationed in the United States Marine Corps and his mother was a teacher at a public school. When his father retired from service, Winston and his family relocated to Brooklyn, New York. As a child of a Marine and an elementary school teacher, the significance of education, public service and a strong work ethic were instilled in Winston at an early age. In years following, Winston furthered his education at Davidson College where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in anthropology and was also a two-time letterman on the football team.

Before becoming a politician, Winston was an activist during the 2016 protest over the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. Echoing the Black Lives Matter rallies during previous years, protesters in Charlotte took to the streets in a call for an end to inequality and police brutality against people of color. During the protest, Winston was captured in the center of a moving image, where he stood shirtless and with his fist raised, facing a line of police wearing riot gear and holding batons. This photograph captivated many by memorializing Winston as a prominent figure of the protest.

“I know the fist did make a statement. It allowed me to say everything I wanted to say,” Winston said. He explained how his life changed on that night alongside Charlotte’s trajectory as a whole.

Although Winston says that the photo did not directly cause him to run for City Council, he explains that his presence at various protests and his willingness to get involved put him in contact with community leaders.

Faced with the question of “If not now, then when?” Winston took advantage of his growing popularity and ran for public office. Nearly a year after the protest, Winston was elected in 2017 as an at-large member and is serving his first term on Charlotte City Council. Winston strives to end inequalities in Charlotte by executing involvement for those communities who have, in the past, been left out of the decision-making process. In doing so, he hopes to change the civic system to get more people to participate and pledges to promote new leadership within our surrounding communities.

“There is no right way to be an activist,” said Winston. “I believe that conversation is action, and with the willingness of people, we can direct that action specifically to fix those systems.”

Winston encourages people to voice their opinions by remaining elevated and informed of what is happening around you in your city, by supporting others in making a change and by staying involved in your community.

Reflecting on his past encounters, Winston said there was a lesson to be learned, not only for himself, but for others as well.

“I want people to take from the picture that I’m willing to have the uncomfortable and inconvenient conversations,” he said. “I’m willing to stand up for everybody to have those conversations.

“I think that’s the idea of America. We have to be willing to get out of our comfort zones and stand in the middle and try to find some common ground, however difficult or painful that may be.”

UNC Charlotte alumna appears on The Ellen Show

Emily Francis, a familiar face from right here in the Charlotte area, excitedly made her way down from the audience as Ellen DeGeneres called her to the stage. From raising her four siblings for years in a shack in Guatemala, to migrating to the United States, to graduating from UNC Charlotte with a degree in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), Francis’ story would charm the entire audience.

Francis was selected as a guest because of her kindness and dedication to her students. She strives to make sure her students value their culture as much as she does hers. A former Cabarrus County Schools Teacher of the Year, Francis moved from Guatemala to United States when she was just 15-years-old.

Francis and her family encountered many hardships living in Guatemala where they were one family among thousands to be living in poverty. Francis’ mother struggled to get by, selling only fruits to provide for her family. At the young age of just 13-years-old, her mother left Emily to tend to her four other siblings as she made way to the United States in search for a better life for her family.

When time came for Francis and her siblings to join her mother in America, she was presented with a reality check. Francis frowns in saying, “I was a 15 year old with a 6th grade education and spoke little English.” Knowing that much work was ahead of her to adapt to such a different environment, Francis spent countless late nights reading and making sure she understood her homework, only to be mistreated by teachers who thought of her as an outsider because of the language barrier.

“It took me one and a half years to learn English,” she shares, giving credit to both “The Ellen Show” and “Friends” for contributing to her learning process by serving as entertaining ways to learn English. After completing the English Language Arts test, Francis was on the track to gain the credits she needed to graduate from high school. Obtaining the 42 credits needed, she thought the day had come – only to be faced with yet another required exam that she was unable to pass.

Having family in the Cabarrus County area, Emily relocated and enrolled at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in 2000 where she obtained her GED. During this time, she got the opportunity to work at Bass Pro Shop at Concord Mills. In hopes of a better future, she applied to Cabarrus County Schools but said, “I thought there was no way in the world I would ever get the job.”

Shocked to get the call from Mt. Pleasant Elementary, Francis was given the opportunity to come in for an interview for a 1st grade teacher’s assistant position. Throughout the next eight years, she excelled as she gained experience through working with her students in the classroom as a TA, then went on to complete her associate’s degree, earned a bachelor’s in Spanish, then finished off right here at UNC Charlotte with a master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language.

Francis’ dreams were made a reality when she was given the opportunity to become an ESL teacher at W.M. Irvin School in Concord, North Carolina in 2012. Recognizing her as a deserving individual with so much fortitude, The Chobani Foundation presented her with an award of $100,000 while on “The Ellen Show” to go towards her school’s backpack program. Her reaction was priceless.