Evan Long says he “caught the bug” in his freshman year at UNC Pembroke. For his good works, the senior from Lincolnton, N.C., was named the university’s 2013 Community Impact Award winner, the university’s highest honor for campus and community engagement.
The first business major to win the award, Long traveled to Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte on November 2 to accept the award at the annual student Citizenship, Service, Networking and Partnerships (CSNAP) Student Conference sponsored by the N.C. Campus Compact.
Long has made an impact at UNCP, according to Aubrey Swett, director of UNCP’s Office of Community and Civic Engagement. “Evan has shown a strong dedication to his campus and the surrounding community since his first days on campus,” Swett said.
“He is ambitious, aware, responsible and truly demonstrates what it means to be an active and engaged citizen,” he continued. “His work in helping to develop the on-campus Food Pantry and resource center has been instrumental in developing a sustainable program that will affect the lives of many people long after he graduates. Evan will leave a great legacy at UNCP.”
In an interview at UNCP’s new Food Pantry, Long said his volunteer work has enriched his college experience and developed his leadership skills. It started, he said, in his freshman year when he decided to live in the university’s Leadership Living-Learning Community. There, he met people like Christie Poteet from the Office of Community and Civic Engagement.
“I saw the passion she has for community service,” Long said. “We joke about catching the bug, and you just don’t stop volunteering.
“I caught mine my freshman year on an Alternative Spring Break trip to Miami, Fla.; we worked with teens, who have been through the criminal justice system,” he said. “I’ll never forget, on the last day, they told their stories. You just can’t put it in words.”
As a high school senior, Long was accepted to other colleges and considered community college, but he’s glad he came to Pembroke. Until the Miami trip, he was not certain he would remain at UNCP.
“I was a freshman; I was scared, and I stayed to myself,” Long said. “The living-learning community introduced me to other students and expanded my involvement.
“If I had not gotten involved, I would not have stayed,” he says today. “I wouldn’t take back my decision to come to UNCP for anything.”
Long has an extraordinary record of service. His work earned a job as a Student Service Leader organizing its events with the Office of Community and Civic Engagement.
He is a founder and manager of the food pantry. A clothing closet tor teens and the food pantry are his biggest projects. The pantry is well stocked and the space also serves as a community resource center.
“The generosity of faculty and staff is beyond anything I imagined,” he said. “The administration has been supportive, and we’re thankful to have this space in Wellons Hall.”
Long said food insecurity is a problem among students, and he wants to get the word out. A recent survey showed that nearly half of UNCP’s student have “low food security.” Emergency food bags are in offices across campus.
“College students are not eligible for food stamps,” he said. “If getting by means eating Ramin noodles, there is food problem.”
For the future, Long is looking into several options. A solid student with an interest in marketing, he may take a plunge in the corporate world. When asked if it’s unusual for a business major to become so deeply involved in community service, he had an answer.
“I don’t see many business students doing this,” Long said. “But starting the food pantry is like starting a business. We’ve even had to deal with red tape from the state.”
Long has engaged in the entire college experience. He’s a football fan and a member of Theta Xi fraternity. His dedication and work are appreciated by university administrators.
“Evan is dedicated to the campus and community and works tirelessly to engage other students in service,” Swett said. “Evan has been instrumental in developing sustainable programs that promote civic responsibility.
“He has been the lead for several alternative break trips, campus days of service, and other projects in the areas of hunger and homelessness and community engagement,” he continued. “Evan is responsible for managing and overseeing the day-to-day operation of the food pantry. He is committed to making a true difference in his community, both locally and nationally.
For more information about civic engagement at UNCP, please contact the Office of Community and Civic Engagement at 910.521.6163 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.