Jenee Carlson, a first-year student at Northern Illinois University (NIU), is passionate about issues related to food insecurity. Upon entering NIU, Jenee discovered that food insecurity is not merely an issue that occurs in high-poverty neighborhoods, but that there are a number of students on the campus struggling to make ends meet without adequate resources to ensure consistent access to quality food. Jenee is committed to identifying strategies that will secure the existence of the Huskie Food Pantry, which serves students who are challenged by food insecurity. Her mentor, Dennis Barsema notes that "Jenee is a passionate and committed student, with a heart for serving the needs of her community." Jenee epitomizes the qualities of a servant leader and we are grateful for her efforts to help us to ensure that we are best serving all of the students at Northern Illinois University.
I chose to major in business as a means to help people by using proven business practices to address social issues in the world. Growing up in this area, I was well aware that there was high rate of poverty surrounding the college campus, but never thought about how it affected college students. As I arrived on campus, going to the dining hall quickly became a routine of mine but I soon realized that this was not a routine of every college student. Being selected as a Research Rookie, I chose to start my research project on food insecurity among students attending Northern Illinois University. Soon after beginning this project back in September, it led me to our small and infrequently open campus food pantry. For the past five months I have been observing and volunteering at the pantry while initiating a college wide survey focusing on the extent to which hunger exists on campus. My goal is for this research to lead to a more "right sized" food pantry to better address food insecurity on our campus, which will better the lives of all students and our community.