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Erin Verbeck 2016-17

Erin Verbeck, Ingram Scholar and nutrition fanatic, is the recipient of the Michael B. Keegan Traveling Fellowship for 2016-2017.

The goal of the fellowship is to develop future leaders through world travel and experiential learning. Graduating seniors awarded the fellowship have the opportunity to pursue an idea or an issue, about which they are impassioned, in the context of daily life in communities around the world.

Erin graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences with a degree in Anthropology, as well as a minor in Human and Organizational Development. While at Vanderbilt, she served as a Head Residential Advisor in Branscomb Quad, researched for the National Science Foundation as well as Metro Nashville Public School’s breakfast programming, and acted in the play, “How to End Poverty in 90 Minutes.”  However, some of Erin’s favorite college memories took place outside of Vanderbilt, at Preston Taylor Ministries (PTM), a nonprofit that works to improve student outcomes in North Nashville. While at PTM, Erin implemented a summer nutrition program that taught nutrition and leadership skills by using media and social media. Her passions for social justice, wellness, and youth fueled the development of the nutrition program, and have also extended to her upcoming travels on the Keegan Fellowship.

Erin’s work at PTM helped inspire her fellowship project, titled “The Significance of the Chicken Nugget and Carton of Milk: Understanding Social Program Performance through National School Lunch Programs.” As a Keegan Fellow, she will explore the extent to which external factors – such as historical events, culture, and beliefs – influence the effectiveness of national school lunch programs.  NSLP performance varies across the globe, which creates the critical opportunity to dialogue best practices between countries. Erin also hopes to expand her worldview and imbed herself in the cultural contexts she will encounter. She plans to travel to over 17 countries that have lunch programs with compelling differences from the American program.

After she returns from the fellowship, Erin plans to attend law school and pursue a career in public service. She hopes to use her knowledge gained from her Keegan experience to improve social welfare programs in Minnesota, as well as form relationships with and advocate for its recipients. She is incredibly grateful to Michael Keegan for his financial contribution, as well as those who have supported her along the way.

Follow Erin’s journeys through her travel blog, found at