Professional visits with Forum-Nexus help students gain a real-world perspective of international organizations operating on a global scale. As an individual who has received over five years of experience in applying theoretical applications to real world situations, I found the professional visits realistic and educational. Specifically, the visits to the United Nations and partnering organizations were the most enlightening for me. I also gained a deep insight from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

As a Ph.D. student, I have spent sufficient time in deciding a specific field to become an expert in. Through my journey of higher education, I have established a passion for policy-making in the government sector. As an official candidate on the 2014 general election ballot for the state of Ohio Representative of District 10, I naturally found curiosity in the United Nations. The FAO grasped my attention in relevance to one of my campaign platforms – which focuses on decreasing Cleveland’s hunger percentage, poverty level (32% of the population is below the poverty line), and food insecurity (of the 32%, elderly and families make up 79% of those who are seeking assistance with securing food) (U.S. Conference of Mayors 2013 Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness).

During my time at FAO, I was able to add another organization to my archive of resources in helping to achieve future goals of reducing hunger and food insecurities in Ohio. The FAO has access to a multitude of databases and resources that can provide insight and additional knowledge on plausible strategies, and policy-making ideas to assist in the successful fulfillment of those strategies. The presenter at FAO, Allison Smalls, provided realistic challenges to tackling hunger; such as dilemmas with quality and the use of technology.  Meeting the challenges with carrying out the organization’s mission and goals is most beneficial. Challenges provide a realistic view of a real world application, which are usually filled with multiple challenges. Personally, I found great significance in this professional visit. I was able to gain necessary insight on attacking a problem that not only affects my community, but is also a global issue. FAO reminded me that a community’s ability to solve a problem locally can lead to solving a global issue.

By: Danielle Shepherd,  2014 Forum-Nexus Alumnae

Danielle Shepherd