Hannah Weinronk, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Hannah Weinronk, a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has worked with community organizations in western Massachusetts, Alaska, and South Africa, focused on innovative responses to food insecurity, youth empowerment and resilience, and technology for clean water. She co-led a successful campaign, the Real Food Challenge, to secure a commitment from UMass to source 20% of its food from local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound and humane food sources by the year 2020. In the process, she coordinated an internship for 15 students to audit, research, and influence the university’s food purchasing. She then stepped into national leadership for the Real Food Challenge, joining the National Steering Committee as one of five student representatives. In this role, she has hosted leadership trainings for students and organizers throughout the US. She and two colleagues recently won the Unite4: Inspiration award of $75,000 to support the work of Real Food Challenge on campuses across the nation. Hannah is an extraordinary young woman with deep integrity, exceptional intellect and a strong belief in the power of community; the voice she contributes to discussions and deliberations is inquiring, insightful, respectful, and much more humble than is usually the case for someone of such stellar abilities.
-Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy, University of Massachusetts Amherst
I entered university grappling with the question of how I could make an impact. With this on my mind, I stepped up to facilitate a service-learning course partnered with a grassroots urban agriculture organization, taking responsibility for a community partnership and the education of my peers. I also became a volunteer at a local food pantry/community center, partnering my service with academic explorations and deep discussions about social justice and civic engagement. Developing a passion for food justice, I helped lead an exciting campaign with the Real Food Challenge (RFC), winning a commitment for sourcing more just and sustainable food on campus. Expanding in my leadership within RFC, I joined the Steering Committee for the organization, helping to shape the direction of the food movement on a national level. Simultaneously, I continued community-based work through research in South Africa and Alaska, exploring ways that academic resources can help address challenges around the world. Over the past four years, I have had the opportunity to affect change while building strong skills in leadership, community engagement, community organizing, and community based research. In the process, I have found a path of civic engagement that will continue to guide me moving forward.