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Portrait of Aneesha Tucker. Aneesha is a Black woman with long dreadlocks. She is wearing a black shirt, purple skirt, and gold hoop earrings and nose ring. She is smiling at the camera.

Finalist: Aneesha Tucker (Winner)

Aneesha is from Charlotte, North Carolina and is a double major in Health Policy and Management and Women and Gender Studies. Aneesha is a Morehead-Cain Scholar and the policy chair of the Criminal Justice Awareness and Advocacy organization where they maintain a partnership with Emancipate NC and engage with work to end mass incarceration. Aneesha is a content creator for The Bridge, a person of color publication that uses different creative media to grapple with the experiences of BIPOC. Aneesha is a Youth Education Assistant at the Orange County Rape Crisis center where they facilitate a consent and sexual education class for students in K-12. Aneesha is also an active member of the Black Youth Project Durham Chapter and Durham Beyond Policing where they engage in abolitionist work and freedom struggles. Additionally, they are involved in several local mutual aid projects, such as Fed Up!, a coalition that includes Raise Up Fight for 15 and Rena Center and Chapel Hill Housing Department Food distributions.

Aneesha’s involvement has allowed for engagement with Dr. King’s most fundamental concern: Humanity. In Aneesha’s words: “When we work within the community we embark on a journey of not only taking back our personhood and demanding people see it but of seeing it within ourselves. When we liberate ourselves we liberate others and the work of decolonizing our environments is intimately linked to the art of doing the same within our minds and intimate relationships. This is what collectivism means to me and it is a value that was practiced and implemented during the civil rights movement. “

Portrait of Melanie Godinez-Cedillo. Melanie is a Latina woman with long brown hair. She is wearing a red blouse and small hoop earrings and smiling outside.

Finalist: Melanie Godinez-Cedillo

Melanie is from Weaverville, North Carolina and is majoring in Public Policy and Political Science. Melanie is a Morehead-Cain Scholar, and a two-term Team Lead for the Latinx Committee within the Community Empowerment Fund. In this work, she tailors and expands SEF services to the Latinx/Spanish-speaking community in Chapel Hill.

Pre-COVID, her team organized community engagement events that emphasize an appreciation of Latinx culture and also promoted financial independence. Due to the pandemic, Melanie’s efforts are focused on community outreach to ensure that members feel supported during these uncertain times. Her team worked to translate financial, housing and health COVID-19 resources for the SEF database.

Melanie is also the Co-Director of Outreach for Mi Pueblo, the largest Latinx organization on campus, where she organized Mi Pueblo’s first mentorship program, Amigx, and recruited over 50 Latinx upperclassmen to serve as mentors for first-year students. Melanie partnered with Beloved Asheville’s Disaster Team as a Community Leader to provide organized mutual aid to individuals most vulnerable and impacted by COVID-19. Extending her COVID-19 outreach, Melanie is a John M Belk Impact Fellow and researches and promotes policies that equitably support students of color from low-income families disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Melanie is inspired by Dr. King’s dedication to serving others by unifying people to advocate for their right to equal opportunity in the United States. As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, raised to translate legal documents at the age of 7, Melanie aspired to gain the knowledge to understand the policies and practices that support her family. Her upbringing and Dr. King’s legacy have fueled her passion for public service, inspiring her to seek to do good on behalf of others.

Portrait of Amy Lo. Amy is an Asian woman with long blond hair. She is wearing a black jacket over a white turtleneck and smiling in front of a gray brick wall.

Finalist: Amy Lo

Amy is from Cleveland, Ohio and studying Public Health Nutrition with minors in Chemistry and Food Studies. Amy is President of The Food Ark, a nonprofit that fights against food insecurity in North Carolina, co-president of Nutrition Coalition, a club within the Gillings School of Global Public Health where she piloted a mentorship program between Masters of Public Health, Bachelors of Public Health and prospective BPH students. She has served as outreach chair for Carolina Cupboard, Carolina’s food pantry, culinary chair for the Chinese Undergraduate Student Association and is working to establish a satellite branch of Root Causes, a nonprofit in Durham that links patients at Duke Health with free groceries.

Amy is also involved in research with Dr. Shu Wen Ng, a professor in the Department of Nutrition, and works as a certified nurse aide at UNC Hospital.

Amy emulates Dr. King’s example to fight for human rights, remain selfless, and learn from others by putting herself in different positions to see the dimensions of food insecurity in NC to better understand how she can make positive change. Through these interconnected threads, Amy has weaved creative paths and approaches towards helping tackle food insecurity among some of the most vulnerable in our communities.

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