UB student is passionate about fighting food insecurity, what she calls a “catalyzing agent for political and economic instability.”
Dalanda Jalloh is passionate about fighting food insecurity, what she calls a “catalyzing agent for political and economic instability.” Her professors stress her ability to bridge the gap between her humanitarian interest in establishing equitable food systems in local communities, and understanding how food insecurity can derail progressive governments and humanitarian reform.
In May, this daughter of immigrants from Guinea—whose years of homelessness strengthened her resolve to succeed—learned she had won a Boren Scholarship that sponsors U.S. undergraduates to study abroad in areas of the world critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad programs. Jalloh, an international affairs major with a minor in public health, will spend part of her senior year in Senegal working as an intern with a local organization related to her chosen area of study. She also received a scholarship from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, which funds study abroad for undergraduate students. Over the summer, and as part of her Boren Award, she took part in an intensive course in French, Senegal’s official language, through the University of Florida. She will also study advanced French while in Senegal.
“Senegal plays an important role in promoting peace and security throughout the African continent,” she says. “Addressing food security in Senegal is imperative to avoiding political and economic instability, and establishing lasting peace and prosperity in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Her perspective on the role of food insecurity in international relations is just one reason for the deep and detailed admiration from her faculty mentors. Her academic preparation, research as an undergraduate and work in Buffalo’s refugee community are especially instructive, they say, because of the adversity she endured before coming to UB.
“Ms. Jalloh’s ceaseless and inspiring [questions] about the origins of, and potential solutions to, African development challenges, her precocious and insightful contributions to class discussions, and overall distinguished scholarship, which placed her at the top of the class, convinced me she was destined for great things,” Ndubueze L. Mbah, associate professor in the Department of History, wrote in his recommendation letter.
When speaking of her past homelessness, Jalloh strikes a delicate balance. She will tell you about how her years without a real home honed her determination, resilience, and ability to “cherish memories and every experience deeply.” But she adds: “I don’t want to make it seem like I have completely processed what I’ve been through. Every day is a battle—especially accepting that it happened to me. But it is a part of my journey and to embrace it means I need to see the good in what this experience brought. After all, it did lead me to Buffalo.”
“Dalanda’s accomplishment in receiving this award is another perfect example of how a UB education can empower an individual. Education can change lives,” says Elizabeth Colucci, director of UB’s Office of Fellowships and Scholarships, which identifies, sponsors, and supports students applying for competitive scholarships like the Boren Award. “The fact she went through that personal and academic growth at UB, right here with us, is even more reason to celebrate.”
“Addressing food security in Senegal is imperative to avoiding political and economic instability, and establishing lasting peace and prosperity in sub-Saharan Africa.”
In her work addressing food insecurity, Jalloh, who graduated from Coney Island Prep High School in Brooklyn, merges idealism with a realpolitik appreciation for how food equity can either stabilize or undermine governments. “Social unrest caused by food insecurity could drastically reverse economic development in Senegal,” she wrote in her Boren essay. “GDP is shown to be significantly lower in countries experiencing political instability compared to those that are not.” She adds that food insecurity must also be addressed as a U.S. national security concern.
“Dalanda was able to engage in meaningful research around the topic of global development and planning through her work with Dr. Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah [assistant professor of urban and regional planning in the School of Architecture and Planning] and UB’s Community for Global Health Equity,” Colucci explains. “She sees how food security has international, as well as domestic, security implications.”
Jalloh says being a daughter of first-generation African immigrants has allowed her to view the world through different lenses. “I am interested in federal service because I have a lot to offer in diversifying the field,” she says. “By serving the U.S. government, I will be representing a true image of what being American means and represents around the world. I am diplomacy; I am America.”
Published September 26, 2021