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Scholars of all sorts improve communities, one snack at a time

brady scholars students
Brady Scholars 2017 cohort

The average child in Evanston might not know their morning orange juice has more sugar than a candy bar. But Brady Scholars are here to change that.

Now in its ninth year, the Brady Scholars Program in Ethics and Civic Life is a three-year program for undergraduate students with any major within the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. The program begins with three courses and an exploration of the Evanston community during sophomore year. As juniors, Brady Scholars study abroad for all or part of the year. Drawing on their knowledge of Evanston, their classwork and their time overseas, the Scholars reunite in their senior year to work on a community development initiative.

For three years now, the 2017 cohort of Brady Scholars has worked together to create a project focused on childhood nutrition. This group of 16 students has produced a video — in collaboration with Dr. Lynn Chehab — focused on sugar in common beverages. Recognizing that educating children on sound nutrition can only go so far, the Brady team also created a free app for parents and families that is filled with healthy, budget-friendly recipes.

Other components of the Scholars’ project involve partnering with local Evanston organizations to help them offer healthier snacks, nutrition-education programming and family nights to facilitate parent involvement.

Because the program is open to all Weinberg students, Brady recruits a diverse array of students. The 2017 cohort includes majors ranging from Classics and American Studies to Neuroscience and Biology, and this variety comes in handy for the final project. Some Scholars are more comfortable writing code for an app or crunching numbers, while others find their niche writing policy proposals or meeting with community leaders.

“Brady attracts curious students with an urge to do good in the world,” says Brady Scholars Program Coordinator Kathleen Arbuckle. “Our students really appreciate the opportunity to make an impact and touch some lives during their time at Northwestern.”

The Brady Scholar seniors completed their project during the winter quarter. Knowing that many may leave Evanston after graduation, the Scholars want to ensure their programming can be carried on by others.

“We found ways to be efficient and helpful so local organizations can continue our work,” says Brady Scholar Amanda Stephens.

For Stephens and the rest of her cohort, Brady has been a life-changing experience that only further cements their drive to give back.

“Brady has reaffirmed that I want to continue building communities and making a difference within them,” Stephens said. “And I know my fellow Scholars and I will promote social change, wherever we land in life.”

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