Senior, political science
College of Liberal Arts
Emily Scammell is a graduating senior from Daphne, Ala., majoring in political science and minoring in hunger studies. An Honors College student, she was one of just three recipients of this year's Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, Auburn University's highest honor for humanitarian service. She also earned the Phi Kappa Phi First Year Award and was the first recipient of the College of Liberal Arts' Political Science Leadership Award. Scammell is the president and co-founder of the Campus Kitchen at Auburn University, an organization that provides meals to people in the Auburn-Opelika community each week and works to engage Auburn students in actively working to solve the problem of hunger in the local community.
1. Why did you choose to come to Auburn University?
My older brother was a sophomore here, and I came to tour the campus. I just felt at home. Auburn is such a cozy and friendly place, surrounded by truly kind and helpful people. I had no choice but to fall in love with it!
Since arriving, I've discovered so many additional reasons to love Auburn. From the incredibly passionate teachers I have been inspired by to the rockstar students that I have been able to work with, I couldn't imagine my life without this university.
2. You were directly involved in the founding of a Campus Kitchen chapter on Auburn's campus. What initially drew you to hunger-related work?
As an incoming freshman, I was in an honors forum when a course was mentioned, "Hunger: Causes and Consequences," taught by a visiting professor from the United Nations World Food Programme. I was fascinated by the concept and signed up immediately.
Never in a million years could I have imagined what would grow out of this class. It forced me to see the complexity of our world and changed the way I saw my own future. As a freshman, I managed to talk my way into a senior seminar for the hunger studies minor, the "Hunger Studies Capstone Course," for the next semester and became part of an amazing group of undergrads that worked to start the Campus Kitchen at Auburn University, or CKAU. We wanted to create a hands-on initiative to fight hunger in our local community, connecting students while creating an impact. The goal and mission of the Campus Kitchens Project could not have been a better fit. At CKAU, we repurpose food from dining halls to feed the hungry in the Auburn and Opelika communities. Being the youngest of the bunch, I am the only remaining student from the class and have been so lucky to carry on the amazing work.
3. What are some of the ways you've been able to actively fight hunger here in the local community?
Through the Campus Kitchen at Auburn University, we have been able to feed around 200-250 people a week at churches, food pantries and different shelters in the Auburn and Opelika communities. Thanks to the endless and incredibly generous support of Chartwells and Sodeho, we hope to expand in the coming months to impact more in our area.
In addition to providing meals, CKAU works to fight the stereotype of "hunger." What statistics don't show are the faces and stories of those who suffer. The food insecure are neighbors, friends and relatives. They are hardworking families, single mothers and struggling elderly. There is no distinction between "them" and "us," because any one of "them" could be any one of "us" at any time.
4. When you aren't in classes or fighting hunger, how do you like to spend your time?
I spend almost all of my day working for classes or involving myself in hunger-related work. Fortunately, I completely adore what I do. There is something so special about finding your passion, and I am very lucky to have found mine early on.
When I do have that occasional moment free, I try to catch up with friends or books on my reading list. Over long breaks, I paint. Painting is such an interesting art, relieving stress while creating something unique and beautiful. I can't say I am a very good artist. In fact, if you saw my paintings, you might think that a second grader attempted them. But I can say that I absolutely love doing it, and I think that truly is all that matters.
5. How do you hope to move your hunger-related work forward after you graduate?
I am so fortunate to have been accepted into some fabulous master's programs for international relations both in the U.S. and abroad and will likely pursue one next year or the year after if I decide to defer. In my M.A. program, I plan to focus on international policies and development to ensure food security in our rapidly expanding world. I hope to further study the impact of food aid on the political environment of regions and the ways in which food aid policies not only affect the recipients but the economic and political development of particular countries. With the dream of working for an international organization (NGO), I hope to establish new and innovative ways to ensure no individual suffers from hunger.
I would never (really, never!) be where I currently am without the help, support and guidance of the faculty, staff and students at Auburn. Though I'm sad to be leaving Auburn and the amazing group of people I've been surrounded by, I cannot wait for this next chapter in my life.