Thorpe/Mitchell Diversity Leadership Development Fund

From left, Robert Thorpe, John Miller, Joyce Thorpe, Samara Pearson, Ly Nguyen, Brenda Mitchell, Glenn Mitchell, Meka Asbury, and Ashley Treadwell.

The Thorpe/Mitchell Fund seeks to increase the diversity of underrepresented minority students into the diagnostic and therapeutic disciplines at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Department of Allied Health Sciences. The Fund provides scholarships and is important in the development of a flexible, coordinated, and collaborative pathway for recruiting, retaining, and graduating underrepresented minority students from the Allied Health Sciences. In addition, the Fund will support faculty diversity leadership development in order to enhance the presence of underrepresented minority students in the department.

The Thorpe/Mitchell Diversity Leadership Development Fund honors Dr. Robert Thorpe and Mrs. Brenda Mitchell, who are both passionate about mentoring and encouraging others to excel and achieve their highest goals. Bob and Brenda welcome contributions from alumni, colleagues, friends, and others to help build the Thorpe/Mitchell Fund permanent endowment. Investment income from the endowment will be used for annual student and faculty awards. For more information about how you can make a tax-deductible gift to build the Thorpe/Mitchell Diversity Leadership Development Fund, please contact the Director of Development at the Department of Allied Health Sciences, 919-843-8443 or .

Dr. Robert L. Thorpe received national certifications in Radiologic Sciences, specifically in Diagnostic Medical Imaging and Magnetic Resonance Imaging. He also received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, a master’s degree in Health Sciences Education and Evaluation from State University of New York at Buffalo, and a doctorate in Adult and Community College Education from North Carolina State University. He has served as an Associate Professor in the Division of Radiologic Sciences and Associate Chair of the Department of Allied Health Sciences over his thirty-four years in the School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has served on numerous national bodies involved in educational policy and workforce issues in the allied health professions.

Dr. Thorpe is the recipient of the 1992 Distinguished Tanner Teaching Award, presented by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in recognition of inspirational teaching to undergraduate students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The North Carolina Health Careers Program presented its 1997 Award of Leadership to Dr. Thorpe in recognition of dedication and leadership toward improving the access of minority students into the health professions.

Dr. Thorpe has been happily married to Joyce Thorpe for forty-two years. God has graciously blessed them with two lovely daughters, Sherry Evette and Natalie Christina. Robert and Joyce have been members of the Immanuel Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church in Durham, NC for nearly thirty-eight years.

Brenda Olivia Everett Mitchell serves the Department of Allied Health Sciences as the Associate Chair for Student Services and AHEC Operations. In this position, she works with prospective and matriculating students as well as alumni in departmental focus groups, recruitment and advisory board. She chairs numerous committees in the department and serves as liaison on other committees on behalf of the department. Brenda has presented at numerous national and state conferences on leadership, diversity and speech language pathology topics. She completed the BRIDGES Academic Leadership for Women program in November 2006.

Brenda has been affiliated with the Department of Allied Health Sciences since 1996 as faculty in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences and in 2001 as Associate Chair for Student Services and AHEC Operations. She realized at an early age that she wanted to pursue Speech Language Pathology and Audiology and attended South Carolina State University for her undergraduate degree and went on to Pennsylvania State University for her Master’s degree. She is currently completing a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Brenda has a research interest in mentoring and leadership.

She is happily married to Glenn Javonne Mitchell and they reside in Durham, North Carolina where they are engaged in numerous teaching and mentoring roles through their church, Union Baptist. As a couple, they are committed to reaching back as they climb forward.

2012-2013 Thorpe/Mitchell Scholarship Recipients


Crystal Lynnette McCullough
Division of Clinical Laboratory Science
Greensboro, North Carolina
Personal Statement: It was my first year here at Carolina when I learned of the Clinical Laboratory Science program and all of the benefits it had to offer. After attending interest meetings, reading information about the program, speaking with various professors in the program, and taking an introductory course to CLS, I became even more enthralled with the idea of discovering treatments and vaccines for patients. After having the luxury of shadowing a scientist at UNC Hospitals, I confirmed on that day that CLS was the profession I wanted to pursue. I am extremely grateful and honored to have been accepted into this program and selected as a 2012-13 recipient of the Thorpe/Mitchell Diversity Leadership Development Award. With this enormous blessing, I will strive to perform to the utmost of my ability and represent CLS and this illustrious university well. The skills I learn will be applied not only for the advancement of my future, but also to help people and give back to those who are misrepresented within the realm of health care.


Allison Santana
Division of Clinical Laboratory Science
San Antonio, Texas
Personal Statement: In my earlier years, I thought of clinical laboratory testing as a rather “black-boxed” process. I would have medical tests sent off to the laboratory and trusted that the results that came back were accurate. I became interested in the field of Clinical Laboratory Science when I took a microbiology lab course and I observed that great care must be taken in order to produce accurate results. This is important because those awaiting their results on the diagnosis or treatment of their disease place a great deal of trust in those performing the diagnostic testing. To be able to study Clinical Laboratory Science is both an encouragement and a blessing. My hope is to excel in this program and to use this as a foundation of knowledge that will enable me to give back to my community in a useful and interesting way. My passions span across the disciplines, and this course of study will certainly enable me to be of service to my community in this field and beyond.

2011-2012 Thorpe/Mitchell Scholarship Recipients


James Alexis Leyva
Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences
Bellflower, California
Personal Statement: I first became interested in audiology because I saw it as an opportunity to provide practical help to people. As I have learned more about this field, my excitement for audiology has only increased. Of course, I look forward to being able to help people who suffer from hearing loss, but I am also attracted to audiology because it is a field that allows, and in many cases requires, the ability to work with others as part of a collaborative team. Upon graduating, there is much that I hope to accomplish in my career, but one of the goals nearest to my heart is to take my training to places where I can help people who for various reasons do not have easy access to medical care. Later, I also hope to use what I have learned through my career to teach and train future audiologists. I am truly humbled, and very grateful to have received this award. The financial assistance will be used to help pay for essentials without detracting from the time that I need to dedicate to my studies.


Meredith Taylor Reed
Division of Physical Therapy
Hometown: Atlantic Beach, North Carolina
Personal Statement: Witnessing, on a personal level, how physical therapy has helped others overcome struggles in their daily lives has had such a profound influence on my career path. Physical therapy offers relief to patients suffering from an array of ailments, treating each in a manner specific to their case. Having the opportunity to improve patients’ quality of life, whether they have a physical disability, need post-surgical rehabilitation, or even as a less invasive alternative to surgery, is definitely an aspect of the field that I look forward to the most. After graduating and obtaining licensure, I plan to practice in the field and gain experience with a diverse patient population. Eventually, I plan on opening up my own clinic in an underserved area in eastern North Carolina. Being able to combine my talents by offering access to care while having the opportunity to give back to my community is a long-term goal I wish to accomplish. I am truly honored and blessed to receive the Thorpe/Mitchell Diversity Leadership Development Award. Such a generous gift will allow me to focus more on school and relieve some of the financial burden associated with furthering my education.

2010-2011 Thorpe/Mitchell Scholarship Recipients


Jasmine Michelle Miller-Kleinhenz
Division of Clinical Laboratory Science
Cary, North Carolina
Personal Statement: Over the past year my career aspirations have become more defined as I have obtained more hands-on experience in the field of molecular diagnostics. I have discovered during my clinical rotations that I really enjoy the research and development aspect of molecular diagnostics and would like to pursue a path that would allow me the freedom to develop tests within a laboratory. My ultimate goal is to become a laboratory director. The guidance I have received from the laboratory directors at UNC Hospitals has sparked my interest in this career. I think that a highly passionate and dedicated laboratory director makes all the difference to the quality of the laboratory at all levels. Something that I am also passionate about is service and I believe that molecular assays provide a much needed service to the community by increasing the quality of health care. I am grateful for the Thorpe/Mitchell Diversity Leadership Development Award because it is helping to reduce my financial burden, while allowing me more freedom to make choices that will assist me to achieve my goals.


Ly Ngoc Nguyen
Division of Clinical Laboratory Science
Hometown: Fayetteville, North Carolina
Personal Statement: The opportunities to help others, diversity of the field, and thrill of cutting-edge science have drawn me to an occupation in clinical laboratory science. Pathogens and microorganisms continue to mutate everyday and new techniques are constantly needed to identify and test them. Determining the antigens present in blood is vital for blood donations, pregnancies,and transplants. Clinical laboratory scientists contribute to a broad spectrum of the health field by working in diverse laboratory settings and play a major role in providing information for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. A profession in CLS would allow me to apply my knowledge to care for others. Upon graduation, I hope to fulfill my passion for learning and patient care by working in a hospital. I am truly honored and appreciative to be the recipient of the Thorpe/Mitchell Diversity Leadership Development Award. The generous support will significantly assist me to continue fulfilling my thirst for knowledge and compassion for others.

2009-2010 Thorpe/Mitchell Scholarship Recipients


Ashley Treadwell
Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences
Hometown: Stone Mountain, Georgia
Personal Statement: I believe that one of the most overlooked basic human needs is communication. We all desire to express ourselves and be heard, but most importantly, be understood. It is this belief that drives me to be a speech-language pathologist. As an SLP, I look forward to combining my passion for the field and compassion for people to provide clients with therapy that can change their lives. My specific area of interest is in working with very young children, especially those with developmental disabilities. Research shows that early detection and intervention greatly enhance outcomes for children with developmental disabilities. I want to be a part of that early facilitation of language. I feel incredibly blessed to attend an institution with such charitable donors who invest in students’ goals. Dr. Thorpe and Mrs. Mitchell’s investment in me will help me 'pay it forward' by investing in others.


John Miller
Division of Rehabilitation Counseling and Psychology
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Personal Statement: I entered this program out of a desire to help persons with a disability in achieving better education, social, and occupational outcomes. My experience with multiple disabilities (I am totally blind and have some loss of hearing) lends a unique perspective to the ever changing field of rehabilitation counseling. I look forward to working with persons of diverse disability and cultural backgrounds as they strive to maximize their potential, perhaps in an independent living center or a public rehabilitation agency. As I progress through my studies, I will attempt to make connections and gain experience which will help to guide my career choice, such that I am best able to utilize my own skills to greatest effect.


Samara Pearson
Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences
Hometown: Decatur, Georgia
Personal Statement: I love speech-language pathology because it’s a helping profession. I enjoy helping others and being a part of them achieving something they were previously unable to do. Communication is one of the most important abilities in life, and being able to help someone improve their communication touches every aspect of their life. I especially want to work with children. After obtaining my master's degree in speech-language pathology, my goal is to open a pediatric clinic. I also plan to offer free services one day a week to those in the community that cannot afford them because everyone should be able to get quality speech and language services regardless of economic status. The Thorpe/Mitchell award reminds me to stay aware of the needs for diversity in this profession because our clients are diverse as well, and there are many needs to be met.