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Undergrad Represents Widener in Washington, D.C.

Ronnie Rabena (left) speaks with Widener President James T. Harris III (right) and other students after signing the PUSH declaration in May.

Widener University student Ronnie Rabena, a junior international relations and political science major from Philadelphia, joined leaders from other universities for the first organization meeting of the Presidents United to Solve Hunger on June 17 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Joined by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, PUSH members will devise how the expertise, innovation and student engagement found at universities and colleges can help communities and nations build sustainable food security. Rabena was joined by Widener Professor Patricia Dyer, director of the Study Abroad Program; and Tara Friedman, senior lecturer in English

More than 70 universities spanning six continents have joined the effort. Each university president has signed the Presidents’ Commitment to Food and Nutrition Security, a declaration acknowledging their commitment to make food insecurity a priority. Widener President James T. Harris III signed the declaration in May, making Widener only the second Pennsylvania institution to join the initiative.

“It’s an honor to represent Widener University at this seminal event,” Rabena said. “Colleges and universities have a tremendous amount of human and intellectual capital. Pooling those resources through an initiative like PUSH, we can make a difference worldwide in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.”

Hernandez has made the solution of hunger and poverty a cornerstone issue of his administration and is especially concerned with providing new hope to the youth of his country. He sees PUSH as a key partner in achieving these goals. Two Honduran universities are current PUSH members – Universidad Nacional de Agricultura and Zamorano University. At the meeting, Hernandez was introduced by Dr. Jeffrey Lansdale, president of Zamorano University. With Dr. Lansdale's assistance, Widener students are collaborating with Zamorano students on hunger issues.

Rabena was part of a contingent of Widener students who went to Tegucigalpa, Honduras earlier this year as part of Dr. Dyer’s Honduras: Languages and Cultures course. There, Widener students visited an orphanage where they worked with students from Zamorano on 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.

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener comprises eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate’s, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton, and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve some 6,000 students. Widener is proud to be a tobacco-free university. Visit the university website,