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Student Spearheads Effort for Widener to Join PUSH

Ronnie Rabena admits that he wasn’t prepared for the transformative spring semester that led him from a conference in Guelph, Canada to an orphanage in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and back to Widener to witness President James T. Harris III signing an agreement committing the university to helping solve world hunger.

“These high-impact experiences were so incredibly eye opening and have taken me far beyond my comfort zone,” said the junior international relations and political science major from Philadelphia.

On May 1, Rabena joined Dr. Patricia Dyer, Dr. Suk-Chung Yoon, and six other students as President Harris signed an agreement to join Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH), a rapidly growing consortium of colleges and universities worldwide that are committed to addressing world hunger through collective action and sharing best practices in teaching, research, outreach and student engagement. Widener becomes only the second university in Pennsylvania to join PUSH.

President Harris signs PUSH agreement“Widener is happy to be part of this important initiative,” Harris said. “With the assistance of Ronnie Rabena and Dr. Patricia Dyer, the student have already formed a committee to begin the critical work of fighting hunger locally, building on connections our university has made with local communities.”

Rabena led the effort to recruit President Harris to sign the PUSH agreement. He attended the Universities Fighting World Hunger annual summit in Canada in February at the invitation of Dr. Dyer and funded by a Verni Grant from the Oskin Leadership Institute.

“In conversations with attendees, I began to see the many ways I and other Widener students could contribute to this worthy cause,” Rabena said. “Attending this conference also gave me the leadership opportunity to present information about hunger solutions to the Widener University Deans Council at the request of President Harris,” Rabena said.

Soon after his return from the summit in Canada, Rabena was off to warmer climes—Tegucigalpa, Honduras—as part of Dr. Dyer’s Honduras: Languages and Cultures course. There, Widener students visited an orphanage where they worked with students from Zamorano University in constructing a mini-farm on the property. Rabena and Widener students have raised more than $1,000 to pay for the electrical controls for a pump that will run the irrigation system for the farm. When the farm is operational, the crops harvested and animals raised will provide good for the orphanage.

Back at Widener, the student committee that Rabena helped form is developing efforts to fight hunger locally in Chester and continue to raise funds for the farm at the orphanage in Honduras.  

“These awesome experiential learning opportunities have given me a new perspective on sustainable impacts that Widener students can make both locally and globally,” Rabena said. “I am excited to develop future student action plans that benefit both local and global communities.”



Photo:  Ronnie Rabena (seated right) watches and President Harris signs the agreement to join Presidents United to Solve Hunger.