Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
With a vibrant community, professors who inspire, and the hands-on experience you need to dive into your field with confidence.
Born in Ghana, West Africa, Piko Ewoodzie ’06 began learning about vastly different social structures when his family moved to the United States—first living in a small town in the Midwest and then in the South Bronx in New York City.
“My life’s story has been trying to understand different kinds of worlds,” says Piko. “Every time we went to a new place, it was a new chance for me to try to make sense of a new social world—new friends, new hierarchies, new definitions of what is cool and what is not cool.”
Knowing he wanted to study sociology, Piko discovered the opportunity to understand how different societies work on an even deeper level at Ithaca College. As part of the pioneering class of IC’s Martin Luther King Scholar Program, Piko was given the chance to travel, research global issues, and make an impact on how others see the world.
“Every year [in the MLK program] you design a project. You think about a research question, you go out of the country, you talk to people, you find answers, and then you come back and present to the school.”
With the MLK program, Piko went to Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica to learn what issues people face in other parts of the world. In a particularly eye-opening experience in Costa Rica, Piko spent a week with kids who were playing together at a gym. The children were from different areas, but they had a common connection. “Toward the end of the week we realized that these kids know each other because they live on the only land their families can afford, and every six months their houses get flooded. It just blew us away.”
Since graduation, Piko has continued to research sociological issues as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. For his dissertation, Piko went to Jackson, Mississippi, to examine how African Americans of different socioeconomic backgrounds acquire, prepare, and consume what they eat. He lived with people to discuss and experience their relationships with food firsthand—doing the same type of work he did as an MLK scholar at IC.
In addition to his research, Piko is teaching sociology at Kenyon College, inspiring a new generation of students to examine global issues. “I think both in the classroom and outside the classroom—really all of what I’m doing now—is just a continuation of the things I did at Ithaca.
“I want to teach college students how to get excited about the complications of the world.”
>> More on this story: The Martin Luther King Scholar Program
When Susannah Faulkner came to Ithaca College, she knew she was interested in politics. She didn’t know that a food allergy would lead to a passion for activism.
“As a freshman, I came into Ithaca having a severe intolerance to gluten,” Susannah recalls. “Eating in the dining hall is such a social experience, and it was really hard for me because I’d have to bring bread in the dining hall and worry about cross-contamination.”
Through her frustration, Susannah saw an opportunity to help other students. She successfully ran for Student Government Association senator for her class. “My main platform was promoting celiac awareness and food allergy awareness on campus, except I literally had no idea it would turn into my calling of some sort.”
Susannah worked with IC staff to change the menu, with supportive professors to encourage her along the way. “My academic adviser, Kelly Dietz in the politics department, was the most incredible mentor a young, passionate, driven student could ask for. Any time I threw a crazy idea at her, she would tell me how to make it happen.”
In November 2009, the gluten-free pantry opened in the Campus Center Dining Hall. “Because Ithaca is such an inclusive community, it’s so welcoming, and it’s so open to change, I was able to put forth this idea and actually see results.”
Her political path did not end there. As a senior, Susannah was elected vice president of campus affairs and co-founded the Food Allergy Awareness Club. Thanks to her efforts, there is now a gluten-free pantry in every dining hall on the Ithaca College campus. “I can’t imagine doing this anywhere else. I was in the perfect place at the perfect time in the perfect community to make a change that was really needed.”
After graduation, Susannah was recruited by Udi’s Gluten Free Foods as their university outreach specialist. The passion she found at IC has become her full-time career—leading a gluten-free revolution on campuses across the country.
“I work with interns who remind me so much of myself during my time at Ithaca,” she says. “They’re this little army of gluten-free warriors.”
>> More on this story: Student Organizations at IC
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