Donor Spotlight: Dionne Colbert
» Black Alumni Reunion
By Claire Cusick
For triple Carolina graduate Dionne Colbert, the reasons to give back in life start with her overall philosophy. “I truly believe that to whom much is given, much is required,” she said.
Colbert came to Carolina from Statesville, N.C., and earned her bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene in 1986. She followed that with a master’s degree in dental auxiliary teachers education in 1989, and another master’s degree in health policy and administration in 2001. In between those Carolina degrees, she earned her D.D.S. from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn.
Dionne Colbert ’86, ’89, ’01
So Colbert, now a dentist in Atlanta, devotes 30 percent of her practice to underserved populations. At Carolina, compelling causes tugged at very specific heartstrings.
In the fall of 2009, Colbert attended the Black Alumni Reunion, as she has for several years. “During the reunion, I was reading through the program, and I saw that there was an effort to raise money for the Hardy Lactation Room,” she said. “I’m single, I’ve always wanted a family, and I had just decided to have a child on my own. She was a sorority sister of mine, and motherhood was on my mind.”
Colbert ended up donating the amount needed to meet that effort’s fundraising goal, and the Maleikka Hardy Williams Lactation Room in the Frank Porter Graham Student Union was dedicated a year later, at Homecoming 2009. (More on the room here.)
“I feel like I owe everything as far as Carolina and my experience to Dean Renwick...”
» Dionne Colbert
Another Carolina cause that spoke to Colbert even more personally was the Renwick Initiative, named for the late Dean Hayden Bently “Benny” Renwick ’66 (M.Ed.).
Colbert remembers him well. “Dean Renwick taught my mother in high school,” she said. “And then, when I was at Carolina, he helped me in so many ways. As a freshman, sometimes, you can feel lost. When I arrived in 1982, campus was still very much segregated. But he showed me that I could still find a place for myself, and thrive. I ended up graduating with honors.”
To celebrate Renwick’s life and legacy, UNC is raising funds toward a $250,000 endowment to support two key programs Dean Renwick spearheaded during his tenure in the Office for Student Counseling in the College of Arts and Sciences: The Minority Advisory Program and the Academic Achievement Awards. (Contact us if you would like to learn about supporting the Renwick Initiative.)
“I feel like I owe everything as far as Carolina and my experience to Dean Renwick, so the opportunity to do anything in his name—it would be something both my mom and I could be proud of,” Colbert said. “I still speak with his wife, just to let her know how much he meant to me.”
Now a mother to an 18-month-old son, Colbert can’t remember her last full night of sleep, but is very content with her life.
“I have not had sleep in so long!” she said. “But otherwise, my life is so richly blessed.”