Hannah Starling of the Lumbee Tribe and rising junior from Dunn, NC, has been awarded this year’s Faith Danielle Hedgepeth Award. This scholastic award is meant for students who demonstrate a commitment to serve the American Indian community during their time at UNC-Chapel Hill and in their planned career.
Coming from a high school where she was one of three Native students, Hannah has embraced the wider Native community. She is an active member of the Carolina Indian Circle, where she helps to create a supportive and welcoming environment. Inspired to work as an Orientation Leader during summer 2019, Hannah made it her mission to meet all incoming Native students and make them feel valued at UNC. She has continued to make herself available to those first-year students in an effort to help them overcome the struggles that Native students often face when they leave their home community to attend college.
Beyond her on-campus activities, Hannah has volunteered with Friends of the Earth. She has worked with that organization to raise awareness about the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and its potential impacts on Native land. Her experience with Friends of the Earth has reinforced her desire to promote awareness of issues facing Indian Country.
A Media and Journalism major concentrating in Broadcast Journalism, Hannah plans to use her future career to share stories of Native people with a wide audience. As an American Indian woman, Hannah can share her unique insight into such stories and use her platform to elevate voices that are often ignored. She is particularly interested in shedding light on issues like the educational gap, pay gap, and the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
The Faith Danielle Hedgepeth Award was established in 2015 to celebrate and honor the life of Faith Danielle Hedgepeth by providing a rising junior with funds to support their academic pursuits at UNC-Chapel Hill. Faith was an active member of the Tar Heel community who desired to have a positive impact on her community after she completed her studies. While Faith was unable fully carry out this dream life, through this award students like Hannah receive support in pursuing similar goals and carry on Faith’s legacy of service to the American Indian population.