Somerset, Pa., Native First Pitt Student to Win Huntington Award

Issue Date: 
May 1, 2011
Cory J. RodgersCory J. Rodgers

Cory J. Rodgers, a University of Pittsburgh Honors College senior who is majoring in biological sciences, history and philosophy of science, and Africana studies, has been named a 2011 Samuel Huntington Public Service Award winner. Rodgers, of Somerset, Pa., is being recognized for a project that will assist people living with HIV and AIDS in Tanzania, Africa.

One of three students out of 70 applicants from colleges and universities across the country to win the Samuel Huntington award, Rodgers is the first student from Pitt to receive the honor.

The Samuel Huntington Public Service Award provides a $10,000 stipend to a graduating college senior to pursue public service anywhere in the world. The award allows recipients to engage in a meaningful public service activity for one year before attending graduate school or beginning a career.

“We were all very impressed with Cory’s project, his presentation at the interview, and his obvious determination to make a difference in the lives of those living with HIV and AIDS in Tanzania,” said Jennifer Huntington, chair of the Samuel Huntington Fund.

Rodgers’ project, titled “The Poultry Program for People Living With HIV and AIDS in Rwambaizi,” is patterned after a project for women’s groups implemented by Karagwe Development and Relief Services (KADERES), which has been providing services to the people of the Karagwe District of Tanzania for more than a decade.

Rodgers’ poultry program will build an HIV-positive individual’s capacity to raise free-range chickens as a sustainable and growing source of food and income. Further, existing social structures within the Rwambaizi AIDS Support Group would be extended, such that neighboring group members would help one another with livestock maintenance, especially during times of sickness or when individuals must travel for medical reasons.

In 2010, Rodgers conducted a research project through KADERES to identify the barriers created by HIV and AIDS, interviewing those affected, getting their perspectives, and capturing their experiences. KADERES plans to use Rodgers’ report in planning for its microfinancing programs, which provide loans to local peasants and small-holder farmers, funding for area clinics, and building projects.

Rodgers’ 2010 research experience in Tanzania included study in Swahili, cultural immersion, and service learning. In 2009, he also studied at the National University of Mongolia in Ulaabaatar, Mongolia, through a Pitt Honors College program.

An undergraduate laboratory researcher in chemistry, Rodgers also takes time to volunteer. Through the Pitt tutoring program “Keep It Real,” he has been tutoring a Somali-Bantu refugee family; has served as a Hospice volunteer, assisting in daily patient care; and worked with Habitat for Humanity through Pitt’s Alternative Spring Break program. Rodgers also served in UPMC Patient Transport.

Among Rodgers’ many honors are a University Honors College Full Tuition Scholarship, Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Brackenridge Undergraduate Fellowship from Pitt’s Honors College, Helen Pool Rush Award from Pitt’s Nationality Rooms Summer Study Abroad Scholarship Program, Foundation for Asia Pacific Education Scholarship, Sigma Phi Epsilon Balanced Man Scholarship Award, and membership in Phi Beta Kappa.

In August, Rodgers is slated to receive a Bachelor of Philosophy degree in Africana Studies and the History and Philosophy of Science and a Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences.