A winner of the Clinton Hunger Leadership Award shares his story

I am extremely pleased to have Brendan Rice as the guest blogger for this post. He is a 2012 Truman Scholarship Finalist and recipient of the 2013 President Clinton Hunger Leadership Award. He hopes to continue to live out his passion for food security in the context of a career in international development. And from his bio it appears he is well on his way.

 Raised in Anniston, Alabama, Brendan recently received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) summa cum laude in International Studies.  In May, he completed an assignment with FAO in Sierra Leone where he worked on a project that addressed food insecurity by empowering smallholder farmers through rural institutions. Brendan has interned at Bread for the World, the Alliance to End Hunger, the FAO Liaison Office in Washington, DC, and USAID Kenya as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Virtual Student Foreign Service.  Brendan currently serves as the Liaison Officer for the Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, Italy.

The President William Jefferson Clinton Hunger Leadership Award recognizes students in their efforts to address the issue of hunger in order to strengthen their impact. As last year’s recipient, the award has played a huge role in connecting my past interests and experiences with my future goals.  During my freshman year at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), I attended the Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH) Summit at Auburn University, where I was introduced to the growing movement of students taking action on their campuses. UFWH sparked my interest in focusing my studies and on-campus leadership on the issue of hunger.

After graduating, I moved to Sierra Leone to work for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). I was involved in FAO and the Government of Sierra Leone’s effort to improve food security through building institutions that increase access to services and markets for smallholder farmers, who are often the most vulnerable. I left Sierra Leone enthusiastic to see how partnerships at the global level can replicate the successes and address the challenges faced there. I currently work with the Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition at FAO in Rome and am involved in bringing together civil society, governments, and UN agencies that collectively shape policy and implement projects related to food security. I work with 60 national alliances and 8 regional alliances worldwide, allowing me to utilize what I learned as part of UFWH.

From Sierra Leone to Rome, the Clinton Award has provided me the support to fully pursue my goals. The award has bridged my interest and experiences during college with my goal of pursuing a career in the field of development. The Clinton Award provided my fellow finalists and me a platform to share the lessons we have learned as student leaders. One of my favorite memories of the award was the opportunity of returning from Sierra Leone to attend the Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit. I met fellow Finalists and participated in the UFWH Summit, an event that never fails to be an exciting time of collaboration.

If you’re a student leader who has made fighting hunger a core part of your college experience, then Clinton Award will move you along whatever path you have chosen. As we all know, the effort we put forward on campus, in our communities, and beyond related to ending hunger is hard work. There are many challenges that call for our leadership and action. The Clinton award is fuel for your fire. It is an important part of preparing our generation to take on the challenges ahead. The lessons learned and relationships formed through the Clinton Award will motivate me as I continue my involvement in this important work in which we all share.

Now, I look forward to finding out how the next group of President William Jefferson Clinton Hunger Leadership Award Finalists put this award to work. Spread the word and don’t forget to apply!

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About Ray Buchanan

"Ray Buchanan founded Rise Against Hunger (formerly Stop Hunger Now) and retired in 2015. Comments made on this site are the sole expression of the author, are not made on behalf of the organization, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization."