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When Alina Goodman first came to the University of Kentucky (UK) in her sophomore year, she knew little about the campus. The same was true about the UK College of Public Health (CPH). However, sometimes things fall into place and Goodman walked across the spring commencement stage the morning of May 5th, 2023, as a graduate.

“I struggled with knowing what I wanted to do that summer going into my sophomore year and fortunately met with an advisor,” recalls Goodman. “After long conversations, I enrolled in Intro to Public Health, and something really just clicked for me during that time.” 

Goodman, who grew up outside of Chicago, says she felt like she found her place within the College of Public Health and its curriculum. She pointed to the college’s faculty for making it easy to do the work and being welcoming when she had questions. 

“I found that I was really enjoying the class work and going to class,” she says. “I found myself really involved in classes, as the material was stuff that I was passionate about. The idea of pursuing a degree just felt right.” 

Goodman was one of eight UK students selected for the Sustainability Summer Research Fellowship program, a high-impact learning experience that contributes to the students’ academic growth as well as to sustainability-focused research initiatives at UK and within the community at large. 

Goodman’s research focused on upcycling textiles into reusable grocery bags for the Campus Kitchen, a student-powered organization that recovers food and produce from campus dining facilities, grocery stores, and farmers markets to make healthy, balanced meals for those experiencing food insecurity.  

Along with her mentor Courtney Lueking, PhD, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Dietetics and Human Nutrition, Goodman worked with the Kentucky Extension Office to recruit volunteers to make the bags from materials on hand. 

“The experience of the summer fellowship was probably one of the best things for me and my career,” she says. “It gave me such incredible real-work experience in understanding how research and evaluation are conducted. It helped me home in on certain interesting areas within research and made me realize that I really do enjoy the research end of things.  

“It has allowed me to do things I never would have imagined, such as presenting at conferences and submitting abstracts," Alina adds.

Goodman was able to present her research at the 2023 National Conference for Undergraduate Research in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and at the University of Kentucky Office of Undergraduate Research’s 17th annual Showcase of Undergraduate Scholars

Her time at UK hasn’t been without challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Alina had a great experience with faculty, both at CPH and the university. 

“They have been nothing but warm and welcoming,” Goodman says. “I have always had great experiences with being able to go to professors when in need of help, knowing that my professors will help me. I have the professors and faculty here at UK to thank for helping me get to this point in my career/life."

Goodman earned her Bachelor of Public Health degree in May of 2023. She is pursuing her master’s in Maternal and Child Health at Boston University this fall.

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