Ellen Orabone: Stopping World Hunger

When I was 17 I spent one of my summers in Nicaragua with an organization (Amigos de las Americas of Houston) that I describe as a Peace Corps for high schoolers. I was in one of the very poor communities in the mountains of northern Nicaragua. My host family wasn’t wealthy enough to feed me sometimes so I went hungry when they went hungry. And dealing with that firsthand and seeing the people that experience that everyday really, kind of, it shook me and inspired me to then come to college and find a way that I could end that problem.

My name is Ellen Orabone, and I am originally from Wilmette, Illinois, I am a food science major with a minor in Spanish. And my career goal for the longest time has been to end hunger.

N.C. State University has one of the Top Five food science departments in the country, and so that was kind of a big pull for me, and then I was offered the Park Scholarship — so that was kind of to seal the deal.

During my time at NC State, I’ve had many opportunities to travel abroad and to get different perspectives on different cultures.

The summer after my freshman year I went to Peru.  It was a very kind of unique experience where we had two weeks to really just delve into the culture of the Incans, that very old Peru and Cusco, and I hiked the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, which was probably one of the most fulfilling moments of my life.

And then we studied for a month in Lima with two of the professors from NC State. And then my spring semester sophomore year, I was in Costa Rica for the whole semester. I was studying environmental ethics and economics and things like that. And it was just again to get a different perspective on a different culture and how things work.

Last year, I organized an alternative spring break trip through the CSLEPS (Center for Student Leadership, Ethics and Public Service) program here at State. We went to Rome. It was for a hunger-related trip, a hunger issues trip. We met with the U.N, organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and then the World Food Programme. And we talked with representatives of both of those organizations about what they are doing to solve hunger. Then we also had for four nights we were able to go to a local soup kitchen in Rome and got to help serving food to the immigrants in Rome and the homeless people in Rome. So it’s kind of both aspects of policy and then actually seeing it in person. It was a great experience.

I am actually waiting right now to hear back from a grad program that is a dual degree program between American University in D.C. and the University for Peace in Costa Rica. And it’s a natural resources and sustainable development program. And with it I’d be able to focus on hunger and poverty.

From all my studies and research on hunger and poverty it really seems like community development is the answer.  And sustainable farming — how farmers can make the most out of what they have, and this program I think will really help me out with that.

I’ve kind of realized I’m not going to end hunger, but just to make a difference in a handful of people’s lives: That’s what I really want to do.

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