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“I describe Ithaca as a ‘choose your own adventure’ experience,” says Alex Moore ’07. His own Ithaca College adventure has taken a winding and rewarding path.
When Alex decided to add a writing minor to his politics major, his father suggested (as fathers do) that a grant writing course might make him more employable. Alex took his father’s advice and during the course, he read a book about nonprofit organizations. Its author, Robert Egger, was president of a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that helps the homeless. Alex emailed Egger, Egger emailed back, and shortly afterward Alex was on his way to intern at Egger’s organization, DC Central Kitchen, to write grant proposals.
“It’s one of those Ithaca chain reactions where you start in one place and wind up someplace very different,” Alex says. “What motivated me was the question of poverty—how does it happen and what can we do about it?”
Questions of poverty, human rights, and social justice continue to shape Alex’s career. He has completed a master’s degree, and now he’s working on his Ph.D. in political science, focusing his studies on humanitarian intervention in international relations. His goal is to become a college professor. “I want to have the kind of impact that my Ithaca professors had on me,” he says.
And just what was that impact? “Ithaca taught me the value of examining the unquestioned ground I stand on,” Alex says. “It’s social change. It’s changing the way people think. It’s asking big questions about the world and yourself.”
Plumpy’nut is a peanut butter paste fortified with vitamins. Because it can reverse the ravages of malnutrition in as few as two weeks, Doctors Without Borders dubbed the lifesaving concoction "a revolution in nutritional affairs." Integrated marketing communications major Elizabeth Stoltz ’13 first read about Plumpy’nut in high school.
"I'd been disheartened about the tragic effects of childhood malnutrition in Africa and was stunned that such an easy solution existed," she said. "I wanted be part of that solution."
So she organized a 5K walk that raised $5,000 to support Plumpy’nut distribution in Ethiopia. Inspired by that success, Elizabeth established Food for Thought, a nonprofit that was initially dedicated to raising money for more Plumpy’nut deliveries. After doing summer relief work in Ethiopia, Elizabeth arrived at IC and founded a student chapter of Food for Thought. The college provided fertile ground for her organization.
"Being a Park scholar, I was surrounded by students who shared my commitment to improving the lives of others," says Elizabeth, referring to a scholarship program at IC that couples academic achievement with community service. "As a freshman, I was already implementing classroom lessons in marketing and public relations to make a social impact."
That impact has broadened.
"Every week, students pitch causes they feel Food for Thought can advance," she said. "Besides two local Plumpy’nut walks, which raised our total support to $20,000, Food for Thought has supported orphanages in Russia, Peru, and Nicaragua. We also organized a cupcake sale that raised $1,600, the cost of a one-year scholarship for a student at a school in India. Starting with five people on the executive board, Food for Thought now has a full house at rush nights."
Elizabeth’s relief efforts have garnered national recognition. As her junior year draws to a close, she is one of 162 American college students to be named a 2012 Newman Civic Fellow. Bestowed by Campus Compact, a coalition of college and university presidents, the award honors undergraduates who engage their fellow students in civic and social responsibilities.
Ironically, as word spreads about Elizabeth’s leadership ability, she feels it’s time, with her senior year approaching, to step down as president of Food for Thought and make way for younger leadership—the first transition, she hopes, of many.
"After I graduate, I’ll be looking at bigger PR firms in Washington, D.C., as good places to integrate relief work with public relations skills,” she said. “But wherever I go, Plumpy’nut and Food for Thought will be in my blood. In 15 years, I want to come back and be blown away by how far IC students have taken the organization."
>> More on this story: Student Organizations at IC
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