“I feel very excited and honored to have been selected as the recipient,” Rice said in statement released by UAB. “This is a great opportunity for me to use this award to achieve my goals, which are inextricably linked to the broader work of ending hunger in our world of plenty.”
Rice is currently working for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Sierra Leone, where he is working on a documentary depicting the development of 193 agricultural business centers to assist small farmers and the project’s effect on food security there.
“Hunger cannot be eliminated without empowering smallholder farmers, especially in Sierra Leone,” he said in the release. “The majority of people who experience hunger live in rural areas and rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. If smallholder farmers have the ability to succeed, poverty will be lessened and food security bolstered.”
Prior to his work in Sierra Leone, Rice spent summers interning with organizations such as the Alliance to End Hunger and Bread for the World. He was initially drawn into economic and hunger justice issues during high school when he began working with the Alabama Poverty Project, according to his father.
“He’s a very passionate and compassionate person,” David Rice said of his son.
Rice began UAB’s chapter of Universities Fighting World Hunger, his father said. It’s at this organization’s national summit next month that Stop Hunger Now and the North Carolina State University Center for Student Leadership, Ethics & Public Service will present the prestigious award to Rice.
The two organizations present the award annually to a college or university student for outstanding leadership in the fight against hunger and demonstrated commitment to a life of service to reduce hunger, poverty, or related field.
After the summit, Rice, 21, will return to Sierra Leone to finish his internship, which runs through mid-April, said his father, who is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Anniston.
According to Robert Corley, adviser of the Global and Community Leadership Honors Program at UAB, Rice wrote his honors thesis on food security issues in Africa.
Before setting foot on UAB’s campus, said Corley, Rice had already “expressed a great deal of interest in doing something important out in the world somewhere.”
His journey toward ending hunger really focused in his freshman year, after a weekend conference at Auburn University that was devoted to issues surrounding food security. The following summer, he interned with Bread for the World and followed with a different internship every summer.
“He came away committed to the issue of hunger and how to try to alleviate it,” Corley said. “Pretty much, that’s what he spent his time here at UAB focused on.”
Rice has been extremely successful in his time at UAB, being named a finalist for the prestigious Truman Scholarship and being chosen as the undergraduate speaker at December’s commencement.
“Brendan is one of these people who draws you in,” Corley said. “He’s so hopeful and optimistic and is able to get you excited about what he’s excited about. I just think he’s going to do great things.”
Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.