Assistant Vice Chancellor Honored by AMEXCAN

An East Carolina University assistant vice chancellor was recognized by the Association of Mexicans in North Carolina (AMEXCAN) on Thursday for her dedication and service to the association.

Sharon Paynter, assistant vice chancellor for community engagement and research, was honored with AMEXCAN’s research partnership award at the association’s annual community leadership awards ceremony.

During her tenure with the Division of Research, Economic Development and Engagement, Paynter has overseen university research programs that aid AMEXCAN’s mission of promoting Latin culture in eastern North Carolina. Projects ranged from working with faculty researchers to develop new ways to tackle educational and health disparities facing Latinx communities in the region, to distributing Spanish-translated newsletters during Hurricane Florence.

Paynter, left, has helped oversee community engagement research projects that have directly benefited AMEXCAN, ranging from student internships to projects addressing educational and health disparities.

“When we looked into building a partnership with AMEXCAN, we wanted to focus on engaged research opportunities,” Paynter said. “What projects can we do that aid the local Latinx community, the university, and our students? We don’t come in with an answer; we implement solutions cooperatively to maximize benefits for everyone involved.

“It’s humbling to receive this award on behalf of all of the great projects our faculty members and researchers have done with AMEXCAN,” she said. “To be able to represent that work is a true honor.”

Juvencio Rocha-Peralta, executive director of AMEXCAN, said that as one of the few Latinx resources in the state, having ECU’s research support has been vital to helping the association achieve its goals.

“When we were introduced to ECU, we really wanted to find out more about the university’s community engagement initiatives,” Peralta said. “From there, we began developing projects that focused on social issues that were important to our community. Thanks to Sharon and ECU, we’ve been able to take the results from those research projects and turn them into programs that support our efforts across the state.”

Peralta added that student intern support provided AMEXCAN a boost.

“The student interns that Sharon has helped provide, specifically through the SECU Public Fellow Intern program, has opened new doors for AMEXCAN,” he said. “It’s allowed us to have sustainable research and productivity that we otherwise might not have. Students help us expand programs and keep them thriving.”

ECU students and faculty members have worked with the association through programs like PFI, the Engagement and Outreach Scholars Academy, and the Latino Advisory Council. AMEXCAN also has a student organization on campus, AMEXCAN at ECU, to better connect the association with students in Pitt County.