Maya Searle, a senior health equity major from Knoxville, TN, has been awarded The Steve and Riea Lainoff Crop Trust Fellowship in Honor of Cary Fowler ’71. The fellowship is made possible through the generosity of Steve and Riea Lainoff, parents of Rhodes graduates Brian Lainoff ’11 and Mark Lainoff ’15.
Searle will join the External Affairs Team of the Global Crop Diversity Trust in Bonn, Germany, in August 2022. The 12-month fellowship provides the opportunity for a recent graduate to develop an understanding of the Crop Trust’s work and the issues associated with agricultural biodiversity conservation. Previous fellows have assisted in planning conferences and events, developing communications materials, and even accompanying deposits to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
As a fellow, Searle will be responsible for activities such as drafting and editing blogs, assisting with developing guidelines for social media cards, assisting with the organization of meetings, preparing research on potential donors, and reading and summarizing climate-related reports.
“My education in health equity has inspired my interest in the relationship between food systems and community health,” says Searle. “I am very interested in issues of global food security and how climate change is affecting agriculture and food production.”
Searle has worked as an intern at Advocates for Immigrant Rights in Memphis and at Beardsley Community Farms in Knoxville. In 2019 as a research intern for the chief policy advisor to Knoxville’s mayor, she worked on projects focusing on local business success, redevelopment, and housing.
She has served as a student volunteer for Big Brother Big Sister Foundation, Inc., and is president of Big Brother Big Sister at Rhodes, helping students to improve engagement and increase access to the mentorship program. Other campus involvements include GlobeMed at Rhodes and IGNITE. She also completed a project on maternal and reproductive rights in Memphis as a fellow with The Lynne and Henry Turley Memphis Center.
In addition, Searle is pursuing a minor in Spanish and Latinx Studies and has earned a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate.
“My education and experiences at Rhodes College have shaped me into the person I am today,” says Searle. “I am incredibly grateful to my advisors, professors, and supervisors at Rhodes for their encouragement and wisdom. The support and resources at Rhodes have allowed me to explore and expand my interests and gain valuable experiences in and out of the classroom."
After completing the fellowship at the Global Crop Diversity Trust, Searle plans to pursue a master’s degree in public health. “I hope to continue working in the field of food systems and sustainability,” she says.