A local student has been fighting food justice issues in the area, and everyone is beginning to notice.
Julianne Evans, a recent graduate from the University of Dayton, has used her talents, passions and love for the city to spur positive change in the community. Her work to address the topics of food and hunger in Dayton has recently caught the attention of the National Student Employment Association (NSEA), winning her the national award for Student Employee of the Year. Because of her work on and off campus, Evans has previously been recognized with awards from her university, the state of Ohio and the Midwest region.
A dietetics major at UD, Evans used her coursework and on-campus organizations as opportunities to engage with the community. Her help with the Center for Social Concern and Meals in Flight are just two examples of how Evans has encouraged social change in Dayton through her work.
Meet Julianne Evans, our Daytonian of the Week.
You are a Dayton native. How has living and growing up in Dayton shaped you into who you are?
I have lived in the Dayton community my whole life and it has most certainly shaped who I am. I feel like Dayton is a very tight-knit community that perseveres through anything. The Dayton community will always feel like home no matter where I go.
What is the Center for Social Concern and what was/is your role? What other on-campus activities were you involved in?
The Center for Social Concern (CSC), through Campus Ministry, provides opportunities for students to put their faith in action for justice in a variety of ways including service, social justice and peace. My role was the Community Outreach Assistant, where I assisted with REAL Dayton and organized the SERVICE Saturday program. Other activities I was involved with included Dayton Civic Scholars, Marianist Leadership Scholars, Marianist Student Communities, the Public Health Plunge, and undergraduate research through the Dietetic program that focused on community nutrition interventions.
What is Meals in Flight and how was it launched?
Meals in Flight started to respond to food justice issues in Dayton, such as adequate, healthy, food access. Meals in Flight was created by a team of students collaborating with UD Dining Services, the Dietetics program, the Center for Social Concern (CSC), and local, non-profit homelessness or hunger relief agencies. The program began in fall 2019 and in the spring of 2018 I joined the student team through my position in the CSC to help create a stable infrastructure so the program would be sustainable year after year.
You won student employee of the year at Dayton, for the whole state of Ohio and the Midwest region, then received the national award. Can you describe what it means to you to receive these awards?
I was very surprised and humbled to receive these awards. I feel proud to receive these awards because I think about all the people who have journeyed with me to help me where I am today. It is all these people who have been with me, like Samantha Kennedy, my roommates, and my dietetics professors to name a few, who are being honored by these awards, too, in addition to the UD and Dayton communities. I think the awards are a reflection of how UD works together with the Dayton community, something that might inspire other universities and continue to inspire UD to keep engaging with the local community to make a lasting and sustained impact.
Why is it important to you to serve the community and people of Dayton?
I think it is important to serve and engage with the community because it creates an authentic attentiveness to community needs and assets and also creates authentic connection between people. These connections and the attentiveness allow the community to flourish and individuals to grow.
What are your future plans? How will you continue to work in the community?
I am pursuing a MS in Public Health Nutrition at University of Tennessee, Knoxville in the fall, followed by my rotations for the dietetic internship at UT. I will continue to engage with community while I am there through my coursework and hopefully research. What I have learned about serving and community engagement from UD and Dayton I hope to continue in Knoxville as I connect with people and become attentive to community needs and assets. I also plan to stay engaged with the Dayton community by continuing to help with research with the dietetics program and Homefull.