Seeking to fund continuing health education for students of underrepresented backgrounds, the Department of Food, Nutrition, Dietetics and Health awarded its first-ever multicultural scholarship to five freshmen in the program.
The recipients of the scholarship received a four-year, renewable award of $6,500 and have the opportunity to participate in an eight-week trip to Guatemala in the spring of 2023.
“To be able to provide this opportunity to put into practice the education our department is giving them will be a life-changing experience,” Linda Yarrow, assistant professor in FNDH and director of the multicultural scholarship program, said.
The freshmen Cassie Meyer, dietetics; Jade Valdez-Gomez, dietetics; Vivian Strahm, nutrition and health; Kari Lies, nutrition and health; and Alejandra Wright, nutrition and health, earned the scholarship.
Yarrow said the scholarship comes from a grant provided by the United States Department of Agriculture. The grant supports health science education for students of certain need. Over the summer, FNDH sent an email to incoming freshmen to take an eligibility survey which the department used in the selection process.
“I decided to apply because, like my dad says, ‘You for sure don’t get scholarships that you don’t apply for,'” Meyer said. “It’s a great scholarship, and the trip to Guatemala is something I would really love to do.”
Meyer said she already took advantage of the program as a way to reach out and begin building friendships at Kansas State.
“[Valdez-Gomez] is in a lot of my classes, so we’ve reached out, and we are on very similar paths, and we’ve already developed a really good friendship,” Meyer said. “I feel like, in some ways, [the scholarship] brought us together, and it will be very beneficial these next years.”
While the other recipients have not yet met in-person, the program still provides opportunities to expand their horizons at K-State.
Strahm, for example, said she’s already looking forward to the growth she’s hoping to get out of the multicultural scholarship program.
“Hopefully, by helping others and learning their experiences from that, I can get some personal growth and be able to help others better by understanding myself,” Strahm said.
In addition to cultivating relationships and developing service-based leadership, Yarrow said, the multicultural scholarship program aims to prepare students to take on global health challenges. Their next three years will focus not only on health education, but preparing to handle food and health insecurity in other countries.
The 2023 trip to Guatemala is an integral part of this experience, Yarrow said.
“I admire this scholarship program because it is involving multicultural aspects to our education,” Valdez-Gomez said. “There are many more countries out there that I believe are all interconnected in some way. If we really hone in and extend our awareness about the world [into food security], we’ll be that much closer to unity and global consensus.”