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Local to Global: Korbel School Intern Takes on Food Insecurity

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Korbel Communications

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When deciding between an internship focusing on international development or local issues, Jazmyne Brooks, a rising second year graduate student in the International Development program, decided to stay a little closer to home. While many of her cohorts chose international internships, Brooks became an Urban Leaders Fellow, focusing on food security justice in the Denver community.

The program, a seven-week internship with local organizations and elected officials, allowed Brooks to positively impact local communities in relations to food insecurity, applying the skillsets acquired during her first year at Korbel. Fellows choose from 10 cities across the United States and promote values-based, grassroot change through youth empowerment. In operation for 10 years with over 600 alumni, the Urban Leaders Fellows program promises a network of support that extends far beyond the seven-week internship. This strong community drew Brooks in, as she expects to fully utilize the resource when working as a policy analyst after graduating.

For her fellowship, Brooks worked with Project VOYCE, an organization dedicated to “cultivate transformational leadership that addresses the root causes of inequity in underrepresented communities”, an area she is all too familiar given her background as a community organizer in Texas prior to attending Korbel. At Project Voyce, she assessed the data collection and data analysis tools to find ways to expand their impact in day-to-day operations. Alongside Project Voyce , Brooks worked with Representative Gonzalez-Gutierrez, State House Representative in District 4, to look at neighborhood price variability for SNAP users in Denver. Along with conducting research on the subject, Brooks also contacted local food justice activists, elected representatives and local stakeholders to provide holistic insights into the Colorado food justice landscape.

As Brooks transitions from the summer internship to the fall quarter, she took time to reflect on how her first year at Korbel positioned her for success. While the numerous research papers helped prepare her to write the final memo annotating her policy recommendations, Korbel also instilled a system-level framework that helped her make connections throughout the Fellowship. Food insecurity is not the failure of a single policy, it is a systemic failure that requires systemic solutions; therefore, any policy needs to fundamentally address the underlying issues. According to Brooks, understanding how “local issues relate to global trends and systems and how we begin to rethink these systems and approaches” stems from her year at Korbel.  Furthermore, Korbel’s emphasis on creating a more equitable world helped her center the voices of those most affected by the issue while researching effective policy recommendations. Brooks says “All of the policy projects this year were extremely impactful, and I really appreciate…the emphasis on connecting with the frontline communities, people who are experiencing this every day, people who are working on and experiencing these issues every day.

In terms of long-term goals, Brooks used the Fellowship as an opportunity to re-assess how she wants to proceed after graduating from Korbel next spring. Though Brooks is currently working through her future plans, she mentioned, “I see myself working on policy in the food justice spaceand after that, perhaps a run for public office in her home state of Texas. However, before all of that is accomplished, Brooks will continue to focus on transitioning the skills she learns at Korbel into making an impact on the local, grassroots level.  


This article was written by Korbel School MA student Colin Babikian.