By Whitney Baxter
Belinda Hoffman is a service-minded individual. From time spent in Uganda to making sure international students feel welcome at Iowa State University, it’s no surprise Hoffman was named the spring 2022 CALS Council Outstanding Senior awardee.
Hoffman, senior in global resource systems and dietetics, visited Iowa State University as an open option prospective student, knowing she was interested in service and wanted to study abroad. During her visit, she learned about the global resource systems major and talked to faculty and advisors about the program.
“I loved that it had so many components and programs that would allow me to travel abroad,” Hoffman said.
So, she declared global resource systems as her major.
She spent the fall 2018 semester in Uganda, taking part in the Semester Along the Nile program. While there, she worked with Nutrition Education Center clients to propose ways to increase yield potential of crops grown in the area. She also experimented with soil health and fertilization methods in demonstration gardens at the Mpirigiti Training Center.
It was while conducting this work she saw the connection between nutrition and agriculture, prompting her to add her second major, dietetics.
Back at Iowa State, Hoffman’s friend and former student, Alyssa Dougherty (’20 dietetics, global resource systems), encouraged Hoffman to get involved in the campus food pantry, Students Helping Our Peers (SHOP). Dougherty also invited Hoffman to join International Friendship Connection, a fellowship of international Christians and friends who welcome international students, scholars and their families to Iowa and make them feel at home in Ames.
Hoffman said through her involvement in these student organizations, she has been able to build connections with others and cultivate intentional relationships that will prove beneficial in the future.
“Things just kept falling into place and I kept meeting these people who encouraged me to get involved in various organizations because they thought they aligned with my interests,” Hoffman said.
Catherine Swoboda, assistant teaching professor in horticulture, said Hoffman’s passion for serving others “exemplifies CALS’ mission to enhance the quality of life in Iowa and the world.”
“Belinda’s whole-hearted dedication to service shapes all she does, wherever she finds herself – from Iowa State to rural Uganda,” Swoboda said. “Since she first stepped foot on campus, Belinda has committed all aspects of her experience in CALS – academic, leadership and personal – to service.”
When considering what she is most proud of from her time at Iowa State, Hoffman said it is the unmeasurable things, such as the way SHOP student leaders have come together to expand the food pantry and how she’s learned to work alongside people from different backgrounds.
“Don’t underestimate the value of an experience,” Hoffman said. “I think the most valuable experiences I’ve had are ones that not everyone has had, such as being in clubs that may not be as popular as others. These experiences have holistically shaped me into who I am today.”
Following graduation, Hoffman said she is going to remain in Ames and “take a breath” before deciding her next step. Ideally, she’d like to become involved with a nonprofit organization in an area related to service, ministry, nutrition or agriculture.