Honors College Travels to Washington, D.C.
Over winter break, members and advisors of the Kent State University Honors Leadership Academy traveled to Washington, D.C. for an Alternative Winter Break experience, focusing on hunger and homelessness in the nation’s capital. The group spent
Honors Leadership Academy members volunteering at Joyful Market
 the week dedicating their time to advocation, education, and community service in the area.

While in D.C., the group volunteered with two area organizations: The Joyful Market of Kimball Elementary School, where students are invited to shop for free produce and also, D.C. Central Kitchen, an organization that serves balanced meals for shelters and nonprofits in the area. During their service at the Joyful Market, members of the academy handed out bags full of fresh produce to children living in an area of Washington D.C. considered to be a food desert; this area includes only two full-service grocery stores, expected to serve thousands of people. Some of the children were given fruits that they had never seen before. Many of the honors students remarked that it was a wonderful experience to see the children so excited over fruits and vegetables. In order to make it more fun for the children, some of the students even dressed up in fruit costumes provided by the elementary school market.

At D.C. Central Kitchen, the members of the Honors Leadership Academy and the advisors assisted in preparing food for schools that were also in need of fresh, healthy produce. The group chopped various fresh foods, bonded with the employees, and helped clean the entire kitchen and workspace afterwards. The workers were so grateful; they remarked how “they love when volunteers come in and help them with their mission!”

In addition to service work, the academy also participated in workshops that educated them on racism in relation to homelessness, and the causes and possible solutions to homelessness. In addition to these workshops, the group advocated for a movement against human trafficking. The academy met with representatives of Ohio Senator, Sherrod Brown, and also, met in-person with Congressman Tim Ryan. Sitting amongst the group, Congressman Ryan asked questions and listened to academy members’ thoughts and ideas about the issue of human trafficking in Ohio. Afterwards, the congressman shook everyone’s hand and even posed for a group photo, which he shared later that day with his Twitter followers.

A member of the Academy, Maya Huffman, said, “The whole experience was really rewarding. I learned a lot about homelessness and advocating for human trafficking. I feel that I can bring back these lessons to Kent and use them to strengthen the community.’

HLA at White House with Flag
After the trip, Honors Leadership Academy advisor, Erin Ahrens, remarked that she had been on several alternative break trips, but it was a good experience going with a group of tight-knit students that she had already worked with through the fall semester. Ahrens notes that she hopes to continue with an Alternative Winter Break trip with the Honors Leadership Academy each academic year, visiting different cities while focusing on various education and service learning topics.

The Honors Leadership Academy was established in the fall of 2018, and aims at connecting incoming Honors College freshmen to leadership learning and civic engagement within the local community. The academy is one of the many benefits of joining the Honors College at Kent State, and provides the knowledge and power for our students to become great role models and leaders. For more information, please visit the Kent State University Honors Leadership Academy website.




Kent State University Honors Leadership Academy members pose for photo while volunteering at Joyful Market, located at Kimball Elementary School.


Kent State University Honors Leadership Academy members pose for photo with Kent State flag outside of the White House.

Media Contact:
Stephanie Moskal,, (330) 672-2312


POSTED: Friday, January 31, 2020 - 10:53am
UPDATED: Friday, January 31, 2020 - 2:33pm
Marketing Intern Rylee Crowley