Carolina Sánchez-Hervás ’12
Major: International Studies
Hometown: Tallahassee. FL
By Dylan Ledbetter
Carolina Sánchez-Hervás ’12 begins her master of arts program in Food Studies at New York University this fall, with a concentration in Food Systems. While there, she will take courses in a variety of areas such as food policy, food culture and food writing. But it’s a food legacy she leaves behind at Rhodes, where her slow food and vegan diet has spread to classmates and influenced friends to rethink the way they eat.
“It’s my passion to help people achieve a plant-based lifestyle,” she says, “And that’s what it is. Not a diet, but a lifestyle.” Carolina yields the true rewards of a plant-based diet on a meal-to-meal basis, from the cinnamon-spiced oatmeal sprinkled with sliced bananas and strawberries at breakfast to the vegan pizza and cookie cake she might share with family or friends at the dinner table.
She has earned her food culture stripes from consecutive internships, one in Rome working with Slow Food Rome while studying abroad in Italy, and another in Washington, DC, interning with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Fluent in Spanish and Italian, she has been successful in translating opportunities abroad to internships at home. During spring semester, she interned at the Memphis City Schools Central Nutrition Center (CNC), where you could find her researching nutrition facts or slicing butternut squash in front of high school students during their weekly tours of the facilities.
The CNC internship itself betokens the connections she has made through her far-reaching food culture experiences. She was part of a dynamic transition under way for Memphis City Schools, where previously unused kitchen facilities now hum with activity: food prepared with ingredients from local farms replaces the frozen, processed, pre-packaged meals once served in the city’s schools.
This change was executed under the leadership of Tony Geraci, the star of the movie Cafeteria Man and the director of the CNC since fall 2011. Before he was Carolina’s internship employer, he was her acquaintance on the Food Day advisory board at CSPI. Carolina was the Memphis coordinator for the inaugural Food Day in October 2011 and organized Rhodes’ participation in the event, part of a food-oriented week on campus that included a film series, featured a lecture by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (of Forks over Knives fame), and coordinated a local chefs’ takeover of Burrow Refectory.
Such successes naturally yield accolades. Carolina was named one of two 2012 IES Abroad Ambassadors of the Year for her intercultural wherewithal. As well, she is the US Ambassador to Slow Food Rome, under whose aegis she has organized slow food events at restaurants in Memphis.
On campus, Carolina excels in the classroom and on the tennis courts, where she is a member of the varsity team. “I′ve seen Carolina tackle a variety of projects—from her work on the food services council to her coordination efforts to retain Italian instruction to her being the point person for Rhodes′ first-ever Food Day programming,” says International Studies Prof. Steve Ceccoli. “And in each instance she demonstrated herself to be a careful thinker, a meticulous planner, and someone who was unafraid to take the lead on issues that are of importance to both her and the Rhodes community.
“Her academic excellence inside the classroom and her innovative and accomplished activism outside of the classroom have been most impressive to this point and, collectively, they indicate the trajectory of an exceptional leader long past her career at Rhodes College.”
Carolina’s recent strides in step with her passion have included a guide to veganism she has circulated among interested friends and family to help facilitate their lifestyle changes, as well as her work on a forthcoming cookbook that could establish her as a venerable beacon of the plant-based diet.