UNC, dental foundation create award for Chapel Hill shooting victims

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Dental Foundation of North Carolina (DFNC) have created a new memorial award in honor of two young Muslim students who were murdered at their apartment in February.

The Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha Memorial Award will be presented for the first time during the fall semester of the 2015-16 school year.

Barakat, a second-year DDS student at the UNC School of Dentistry, and Abu-Salha, a member of the DDS Class of 2019, were two of three victims of a fatal shooting on Feb. 10. Police arrested and charged Craig Hicks in the case.

Barakat and Abu-Salha spent a lot of their time giving back to those less fortunate. The couple had planned to travel to Turkey this summer to provide dental care to Syrian refugees. They had also planned to open a dental practice together. UNC officials said in a written release.

“Deah and Yusor led lives of great purpose and this fund is a fitting tribute to their humanitarian devotions,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt in a written release. “Through this award, the Carolina community is honoring their legacy of creating a more compassionate world through dentistry and delivering aid to those who are most vulnerable and in need.”

The memorial award will provide support to a UNC School of Dentistry student or group of students who plan a local, national or international service project that, according to Barakat’s brother, Farris, “will give back to communities that need help the most.”

“Deah and Yusor had incredible hearts for service,” said Jane Weintraub, dean and alumni distinguished professor at the UNC School of Dentistry. “They often gave their weekends to working at homeless shelters or the North Carolina Missions of Mercy clinics, and were no strangers to international service trips. Through this award, we’ll be able to not only educate our students about their lives of service but also continue their legacy of giving back for years to come.”

The DFNC and the University each committed $30,000 to the fund, providing an initial endowment of $60,000 in total.

Those who wish to contribute to the Deah Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha Memorial Award Fund should visit giving.unc.edu/sod/gift and select “Barakat Memorial Fund” from the dropdown menu.

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