One of the most exciting, if not overwhelming aspects of attending a school as large as Auburn University is that there is no shortage of interesting classes. As a Junior, I decided to take a chance by signing up for a class entitled Hunger Studies 101: Causes, Consequences, and Responses. I had no idea how this almost random class selection would change my life.
After the first 50-minute class, my entire worldview shifted, along with my life trajectory, personal and professional goals. In that short time, I learned just how big of a problem world hunger was. More importantly, I learned it was also a solvable problem, one that I could impact. In 21 years, that never occurred to me.
A couple of years later, in 2013, I received the great honor of Honorable Mention for the President William Jefferson Clinton Hunger Leadership Award. As I was developing the content of my submission video for the award, I was asked: “What would this award mean to you?” The video [embedded below] eventually became an artistic expression of my answer: it would give me a voice, a way of speaking for those whose voices are unheard or ignored. Receiving the award gave me that opportunity.
The countless on-campus interviews and speaking engagements that followed gave me the opportunity to speak to students about the issues and point to ways in which they could make a difference. An interview with a regional newspaper meant that anyone casually flipping through the Lifestyle section of the paper over their morning coffee was reading about global hunger and what was being done to stop it. I knew that it took one 50 minute lecture to change my life. What if simply being introduced to world hunger in this way was enough for someone else to begin their own personal campaign to end it?
The award also lead to some pretty amazing friendships. Those who I met at the 2013 Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit, where the Clinton Award ceremony is held, are some of the most dedicated, passionate people who have continued to be a great source of inspiration and encouragement. These relationships and connections have helped prepare me to take my dedication to ending world hunger to the next level: off of the Auburn campus and into my career.
It’s my first full month on the job and I am still in disbelief that I am now the new Program Manager for the Stop Hunger Now warehouse in Indianapolis, Indiana! The skills, experience, and knowledge that I gained through my involvement in on-campus anti-hunger initiatives, I am now using as a member of one amazing organization that is truly making a difference in countries all over the world.
But what’s the take-away? One of the best pieces of advice, one that I have carried around with me since junior year, is this: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Hunger is a big problem, but ending it in our lifetime starts with a decision to do just that.
To learn more about our expansion into Indianapolis, find out how you can fight global hunger without leaving Indiana, or simply welcome Devin to the Stop Hunger Now family, drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.