Grace Reiss receives 2023 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Council Inclusive Excellence Award

December 3
Grace Reiss at Perrotis College in Greece

Grace Reiss, second from right, senior in nutritional science and global resource systems, spent the spring 2022 semester on a study abroad exchange program in Greece. This experience inspired her to study the Mediterranean diet for her senior capstone research project at Iowa State.

By Whitney Baxter

Growing up in the small, rural community of Ryan, Iowa, Grace Reiss knew she wanted to gain international experience while in college. She has met that goal, and along the way, her outgoing and friendly personality has fostered a welcoming environment at Iowa State University and around the world.

Those efforts earned her the fall 2023 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Council Inclusive Excellence Award.

A double major in nutritional science and global resource systems, Reiss came to Iowa State intending to find ways to fight global hunger and malnutrition.

Her first international experience was a two week-long study abroad trip to The Netherlands and Uganda during her freshman year. The students on the trip visited farms and learned about both countries’ nutrition programs and water management systems.

“That trip changed me for the better, and it was great to travel with other students in the global resource systems major,” Reiss said. “It opened my eyes to the fact that I have so much more to learn about myself and the world.”

Adding to her international travel resume, Reiss spent the spring 2022 semester on a study abroad exchange program in Greece. She attended classes at the American Farm School, Perrotis College, learning about global food systems and sustainable agriculture. Reiss appreciated getting to know the food science professors and building a community with fellow students and other people she met.

Grace Reiss headshot on Iowa State University campus

Grace Reiss

While in Greece, she became interested in the Mediterranean diet. That became the topic of her senior capstone research project for her GRS major. She compared how individuals in the U.S. and Greece adhere to the diet and health outcomes that may result from following it.

“Grace’s commitment to fighting hunger and promoting nutrition security and health reaches beyond her academic obligations and motivated this undergraduate international research project, which indeed, reflects CALS’ mission to enhance quality of life in Iowa and around the world,” wrote Catherine Swoboda, associate teaching professor in global resource systems, in a letter of support for Reiss’ nomination for the Inclusive Excellence Award.

In addition to spending time abroad, Reiss participated in several leadership opportunities on campus, including the President’s Leadership Class, Cargill Leadership Academy and GLOBE Leadership Fellows. She co-led first- and second-year GRS students in the GLOBE Leadership Fellows program, providing them guidance, connecting them with resources and helping them grow as leaders.

“Our GRS students are so engaged in learning and developing their own leadership skills thanks to Grace and her engaging instruction,” Swoboda wrote.

Reiss is grateful for all the encouragement and support she has received from the Iowa State community – from faculty to advisors to classmates. She advises other students to find and establish their own support system and know they belong on campus.

“Try not to fall into imposter syndrome,” Reiss said. “You are meant to be where you are at.”

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