Kimberly Ruhl, senior in social work, is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, and the Social Work Plus Club. Ruhl has been working on a senior project for the social work program recently called “Gorilla Pantry.” Students have access to Gorilla Pantry during the week and are allowed to have as they want. However, the pantry runs on donations and that’s what Ruhl has been advocating for.
“One of my goals was to get food donations for the pantry, so that students will always have access to food..,” Ruhl said. “Another goal was to spread the word within the student body that there is a place to go if you are struggling with hunger. As a student, I had no idea about the Gorilla Pantry until last semester. I figure that they are still students that do not know about it that are struggling with food insecurity.”
Ruhl said that she was very excited to hear about how people perceived her project when she first started.
“When I first started, people did not know what the Gorilla Pantry is for, but after explaining it, they have all been willing to donate,” Ruhl said.
Ruhl added that being in the social work program has been an eye-opening experience for her.
“Learning about all the areas that are in need of help and seeing that we can advocate for them and what they need..,” Ruhl said. “When it comes to the creation of this project, it was eye opening to realize that students were going without food. It just is not something that you think about. You go to class with the same people all semester, and never think that they could be struggling.”
Ruhl said that a major misconception is that if someone can pay for college then they can afford all expenses to live.
“Some students do not have aid in paying for school, and the cost comes out of pocket..,” Ruhl said. “Improper food intake can not only lead to physical health problems… Students who regularly go without food are more likely to not pay attention and not learn like they would like to. If an extra expense come up that a student is not planning on, they may have to pay for that expense and cut costs when it comes to food.”
Ruhl also said that one of the key mentors in her life growing up was her aunt.
“She was always willing to help anyone in any way that she could,” Ruhl said. “She always believed in me and pushed me to achieve my goals.”
She said her grandmother has also influenced her since she was a kid.
“She (her grandmother) worked in a behavioral health setting with young children,” Ruhl said. “I have many memories of her taking me to nursing homes as a child and having me read to them. I think they shaped me wanting to help people in my own life.”
Ruhl is planning to graduate in May 2020, and she said that after graduation, she will be living in Florida and might pursue a master’s degree in social work to eventually become a licensed clinical social worker.
“I am passionate about advocating for others who may not be able to,” Ruhl said. “When I graduate, I hope to work in child welfare and adoption. I want other college students to succeed and have the extra support if they need it to get through their program… College is a challenging time for students with many changes…We are all here for something that we are passionate about.”