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OHIO student Hannah Moore selected as inaugural Obama-Chesky Scholarship for Public Service recipient

Published: September 14, 2022 Author: Tosha Jupiter

Hannah Moore came to Ohio University to be a doctor. She had guaranteed acceptance on the pre-med track. But life can have an interesting way of creating opportunities to shape dreams.

Good moments and connections she found and fostered during her first two years of college while navigating a global pandemic and a virtual world would connect her dreams to tangible action that is guiding her future in healthcare and public service.

Moore, a junior Translational Health – Applied Nutrition major in the Honors Tutorial College (HTC) who is also pursuing a Global Health certificate, is part of the inaugural cohort of Voyager Scholarship recipients through The Obama Foundation. The inaugural cohort is 100 juniors, representing 35 states and territories and 70 colleges and universities.

Moore’s application was selected from a pool of 1,800 applicants and she is one of only two students representing a university in Ohio. These “Voyagers” are from every corner of the country and share a curiosity about the world and the conviction to want to make positive change within it. The $100 million Voyager Scholarship supports students pursuing careers in public service with an academic scholarship, exposure to travel, and connections to a network of leaders.

Focus on food insecurity and health disparities

Moore’s scholarship application, which she worked on with help from Christopher Lewis, director for the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, focused on her work to explore how nutrition education and access to nutrient-dense food and human milk can fight obesity and type-2 diabetes in marginalized children. 

“Hannah's work to combat food insecurity and consequent health disparities in Ohio, across Appalachia, and abroad in Argentina is inspiring,” Lewis said. “She has studied the realities of her local context and made connections to communities abroad. I'm thrilled she'll continue this work through the Obama-Chesky Voyager Scholarship for Public Service. I commend her also for her work on the scholarship application, which she completed early last summer during a demanding volunteering schedule in the Dominican Republic. She is truly outstanding.”

As far as Moore knows, she is the only cohort member with a pointed focus on investigating how food insecurity perpetuates health disparities. Two important experiential learning opportunities – one in Ohio and one in Argentina – inspired her application and continue to motivate her work and “fuel her fire,” as she describes it.

OHIO to the world

“When Hannah arrived at Ohio University in Fall 2020, not only was study abroad a memory but the student community was in the doldrums in light of the pandemic virtual environment,” Honors Tutorial College Dean Donal Skinner said. “Hannah was part of a big experiment to turn lemons into lemonade by having students engage with international organizations or NGOs virtually, but in a real and meaningful need-based project. She brings infectious energy and leadership. She is a natural ambassador for HTC, OU, and this novel experiment.”

Moore was paired with LIFE Argentina, a women-led NGO, to help develop its nutritional support program for children in the Misiones Province. What started as a few weeks of project-based work turned into a virtual internship supported by the Honors Tutorial College Study Abroad Endowment that was started by Ann and Jack Cousins. Moore became increasingly enamored by the NGO’s mission and began to see parallels between her work in Argentina and her work in Ohio.

She also volunteers with Live Healthy Appalachia, a nonprofit that combats food insecurity through educational opportunities and community partnerships. She taught a Live Healthy Kids (LHK) class that addresses food insecurity by providing children with hands-on cooking experience and nutritional lessons. 

“Something for me just clicked,” Moore said. “It makes so much sense to me to seek proactive approaches to using food as medicine. I want to help people be healthier, and I’ve discovered so many similarities between Appalachia and Argentina, so how can I help on a global scale? I am inspired to explore the role of education and equal opportunity on health outcomes.” 

Looking ahead, Moore’s senior thesis will focus on the LHK curriculum's ability to increase nutritional knowledge and food preference, so the program may expand and benefit more students in the future. She wants to join the Peace Corps. She wants to become a licensed dietitian with the long-term goal of running her own nonprofit dedicated to providing educational opportunities and plant-based food to those who otherwise would have limited or no access to them.

The entire time she’s worked with LIFE Argentina, Moore has wondered how she could get there to meet the people who have helped shaped her perspective and inspire her future in so many ways. The Voyager Scholarship includes a $10,000 stipend and free Airbnb housing to pursue a summer work-travel experience, so she’s planning a trip to Argentina.

“For the past two years, my tutorials and research have exposed me to lifestyle medicine, the mindset of being proactive in health through diet and exercise, instead of reactive through medication and surgery,” Moore said. “This shift has pulled me to pursue health care through dietetics and nonprofit work, so I may have a larger and more positive impact. People have asked me, ‘Why public service?’ a lot over the past few days since the scholarship news came out and I tell them it’s because I can’t envision doing anything else.”