July 3, 2013
Recent graduate Hillary Murphy, filled her years at UNC Asheville with projects that will positively impact the health North Carolinians while reducing health disparities and promoting the rights of disenfranchised populations in the state. Over the past four years, the alumnus who now holds a bachelor’s degree in Health and Wellness Promotion, worked under the leadership of Dr. Amy Lanou, Dr. Ameena Batada and Dr. Rebecca Reeve.
With Western North Carolina being the third most food insecure region in the nation, Murphy along with Glean WNC, saw the need for fresh, healthy foods to be available to members of the community. Hillary and Glean WNC collected local food donations weekly from farmers at the Asheville City Markets which were then delivered to local halfway houses, section 8 apartment complexes, local women’s shelters and retirement homes.
In additon, Murphy held an internship position with the N.C. Center for Health and Wellness (NCCHW), working on the Minority Health Grant to create assessment tools to better address the reasons individuals in Buncombe County were not getting follow-up care needed. As part of her internship, Hillary also worked with the Irene Wortham Center on the implementation of a health and wellness program focused on increasing physical fitness and overall health while empowering participants.
Furthermore, Hillary has contributed on community outreach projects with the Department of Health and Human Services to encourage an increased fruit and vegetable intake. Murphy has also conducted undergraduate research while creating a social business model for the Western North Carolina Tailgate Farmer's Markets to implement sustainable Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) systems to allow individuals on Food Assistance to purchase fresh, local foods from tailgate markets around the area. She has performed research focused on creating revenue for the EBT system through Market Memberships and farming videos for the community to download. The business model was presented at the 2012 Social Business conference at NCA&T University hosted by Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus.
Currently, Murphy is continuing to work on a documentary film project with Dr. Ameena Batada, while conducting research and interviews with community members, organization leaders and experts about local foods in Western North Carolina and their potential to address health disparities in the community. She is also a volunteer with FEAST where she teaches cooking classes at Asheville Middle School. In addition, Murphy works on the after school program, “I have a Dream,” in Pisgah View which teaches children to prepare healthy meals using local produce.
At UNC Asheville, Murphy was recognized as an undergraduate research scholar and community engaged scholar. She participated in conferences across the state aimed at dismantling racism and addressing health and was honored with the 2013 Carolyn Briggs Diversity Award for promoting diversity in the university community. Before attending graduate school, Hillary is traveling to help promote organic growing practices and build community vegetable gardens.