Starting this summer, Michał Matejczuk will spend a year working on international development in Asia as one of 18 Luce Scholars selected for 2019-20 by the Henry Luce Foundation. He is the fifth Cornellian to be named a Luce scholar since 2007.
Matejczuk is working toward a Master of Professional Studies degree in global development in the field of international agriculture and rural development, and is a graduate assistant at Cornell’s Institute for African Development. He aspires to improve household nutrition models in the agricultural industry in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Employing food preservation methods during dry seasons, these models can help combat global food insecurity and child malnutrition.
He said he hopes to go to India next year and work with “communities and focus on alleviating poverty through activities in social entrepreneurship, environmental conservation and public health nutrition.”
“In India, my focus is to learn about the solutions driving to eliminate the varying forms of malnutrition in women and children,” Matejczuk said. “This can be in the form of fieldwork with local organizations and entrepreneurs, or conducting research to understand the significance of how this phenomenon has evolved throughout India’s history.
“A year is not sufficient,” he said, “but it provokes me to hit the ground running once I arrive.”
Before coming to Cornell, Matejczuk received a bachelor’s in business administration from the Culinary Institute of America and was a Peace Corps volunteer from 2016 to 2018, serving as an agribusiness development specialist in eastern Uganda as part of the United States Agency for International Development’s Feed the Future initiative. He managed various projects dealing with food security, environmental conservation and HIV/AIDS prevention, and organized field extension work in food preservation and fortification, and in maternal and child health for 200 women farmers.
He was the national director of StartUp Uganda, a training initiative promoting youth empowerment, entrepreneurship and active citizenship in rural communities. He also founded the Ichupa Upcycle Project for the World Wildlife Fund, using plastic waste in the construction of water catchment systems. His other honors include the 2018 James Beard Foundation National Scholars Award.
The Luce Scholars Program was launched by the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974 to increase awareness of Asia among future leaders in American society. The fellowship program provides stipends, language training and professional placement for one year in Asia for 15 to 18 scholars each year. This year, the foundation considered nominees from 75 colleges and universities.