Health Behavior Capstone

2016 Capstone AMP! team (from left to right: Joel Mercado Blanco, Katie Byerly, Joy Martin and Steffani Bangel ) worked with a theater-based sexual health education and STI/HIV prevention program. (Contributed photo)

Community-engaged scholarship: It’s what we do. It’s who we are.

Capstone  is a year-long service-learning course that gives our students an opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills gained in the first year of the program by working in teams partnered with community-based organizations to address real-world public health problems. Capstone benefits both the community partners and the HB students. This critical learning experience:

  • improves or develops public health programs, services, and resources
  • builds students’ and organizations’ capacity to address public health problems
  • strengthens partnerships between the university and community groups
  • positions  students to be competitive in the job market

We focus equally on the service and the learning aspects of the experience. Class sessions are an opportunity for students to prepare for, reflect on, share, and receive feedback about their Capstone experiences. Open the Capstone Syllabus

2015-2016 Capstone projects

These Capstone Projects address ten different health topics and employ a range of approaches to improve the health of North Carolinians.


Left to right: Christina Villella, Alexandra Coombs, Aly Bancroft and Dirk Davis

Smoking policy

Partner: Durham County Department of Public Health

Goal: To identify smoking policy best practices and to assess stakeholder knowledge of and compliance with the implementation of the Durham County BOH Smoking Rule to inform recommendations for strengthening the policy

Faculty adviser: Dr. Jo Birckmayer


Left to right: Jessica Tufte, Lillie Armstrong, Genevieve Olson and Eyerusalem Tessema

Violent death reporting

Partner: Injury and Prevention Branch

Goal:  To evaluate the statewide NC-Violent Death Reporting System (NC-VDRS) by creating reports based on key informant interviews and stakeholder surveys. This goal will be facilitated through identifying and recommending opportunities for data dissemination and access, leading to diverse and more frequent utilization and programmatic applications in settings across and outside North Carolina.

Faculty advisers: Dr. Mike Bowling and Dr. Marcella Boynton


Left to right: Madeline Morrissey, Hillary Murphy, Claire Brennan and Anna Dardick

Domestic violence and rapid re-housing

Partner: North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Goal: To develop resources that allow the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCCADV) to implement a rapid re-housing demonstration site in NC and assist other communities as they implement rapid re-housing, with the ultimate intended outcome of reducing homelessness in our state.

Faculty Adviser: Dr. Shelley Golden


Left to right: Julia Katz, Reikan Lin, Julia Hill, Mary Kate Shapley-Quinn and Juliette Price

Aging preparedness

Partner: Orange County Department on Aging

Goal: To increase aging preparedness behaviors in Orange County adults aged 50-70. We will do this by providing recommendations to OCDOA to improve aging preparedness activities and services and connect to existing local activities and services, and we will develop a marketing plan to promote these activities and services to the target population.

Faculty adviser: Dr. Susan Ennett


Left to right: Juliet Sheridan, Nicole Robinson-Ezekwe, Sarah Prager and Mary Wangen

Hunger alleviation

Partner: Porch, Inc.

Goal: To provide PORCH with resources for referral and enrollment, expansion, and future programming to promote growth and sustainability, and support PORCH’s mission to alleviate hunger through neighborhood food drives.

Faculty adviser: Dr. Carol Golin

Left to right: Joy Martin, Katie Byerly, Steffani Bangel and Joel Mercado Blanco

Theater-based sex education

Partner: UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention AMP! Project

Goal: 1) To assess the social/educational context as well as barriers and facilitators to implementing a virtual version of AMP!, a theater-based sexual health education and HIV prevention program, in NC school districts, 2) Provide recommendations, based on qualitative research findings, to inform future implementation strategies for the AMP! intervention.

Faculty adviser: Dr. Clare Barrington


Front left to right: Rinchen Lama, Eleanor Wertman; Back left to right: Elizabeth Metzler, Humberto Gonzalez Rodriguez and Sarah Edwards

Healthy weight

Partner: UNC Family Medicine Center Healthy Weight Program Evaluation Team

Goal: To conduct a process evaluation of UNC FMC’s pilot Healthy Weight Program to inform program implementation and expansion; and to monitor data collection in preparation for the program’s outcome evaluation.

Faculty adviser: Dr. Deborah Tate


Left to right: Justin Chu, Ania Berchuck, Giuliana Morales, Chen Zhang and Christin Stewart

Mobile app for breastfeeding

Partner: IntraHealth International, Inc.

Goal:  To produce an English language, tailored module of the mSakhi mobile application that focuses on increasing knowledge and strengthening peer support networks to increase breastfeeding among low-income African American women in North Carolina.  

Faculty adviser: Dr. Kate Muessig


Front left to right: Claire Veazey, Lindsay Bailey, and Anna Baker; Back left to right: Elizabeth Sager and Susana Fajardo

Cancer caregivers

Partner: NC Cancer Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Support Program

Goal: To consolidate existing cancer caregiver resources that both provide support for better care practices for patient care and caregiver self-care in a hardcopy toolkit and website. To consolidate existing cancer caregiver resources that both provide support for better care practices for patient care and caregiver self-care in a hardcopy toolkit and website.

Faculty adviser: Dr. Geni Eng


Left to right: Janna Howard, Maija Leff, Mollie Mayfield and Dani Schenk

Workplace wellness

Partner: Center for Community Self-Help and Self-Help Credit Union

Goal: To bring increased rigor, best practices, and creativity to the design and evaluation of Self-Help’s 2016 workplace wellness program, resulting in improved employee participation, improved employee health outcomes, and organizational healthcare cost savings.

Faculty adviser: Dr. Jo Anne Earp

See the Community Partners  page to find out about hosting a practicum student or a Capstone team.

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