Jennifer Bobowski is a fourth-year in the McIntire School of Commerce with accounting and marketing majors. She has been the executive director of the UVA Community Food Pantry for her third and fourth year and served as the organization's drives coordinator during her second year. After graduating in Spring 2022, she will work as an assurance associate at PwC in Washington, D.C.
What led you to your service work?
I first joined the pantry as a volunteer my first year. I found myself volunteering more than any of the other volunteers because I was passionate about the student-run organization. My second year, I served as the drives coordinator. Again, I found myself prioritizing the pantry, and I was excited to watch it grow and move to a better location. By third year, I became the executive director, and it is undoubtably my favorite involvement at UVA. I am passionate about serving this community and raising awareness about the need here at UVA. UVA students and staff, more than most realize, need food assistance. I want them to feel recognized and supported by their community.
What has been the most rewarding aspect that comes with your community involvements?
Pantry users occasionally leave little thank-you notes in the pantry, or I receive a random thank-you email. However, I feel rewarded by my work with the pantry when I see the items being taken and appreciated. I just want my community to not have to worry about their food access so they can instead focus on their own passions.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your involvements? Has your definition of service remained the same?
When I first started at the executive director, it was Fall 2020, during the peak of COVID-19. Everything was basically shut down at UVA; however, I had to make sure now more than ever that the pantry was easily accessible to all students and staff. COVID-19 motivated me to work even harder for the pantry. It also spurred interest in supporting the organization. I worked harder than ever to increase our funding significantly. We quadrupled the amount of food offerings we provided. I saw the pantry as my way to support my community during COVID-19, at a time where the UVA community needed support more than ever before.
How would you encourage others to get involved?
The best way to serve your community is to take initiative, do not wait for someone to tell you how to help, but rather go out of your way to provide resources and assistance.
What has been the greatest class you have taken at UVA?
My favorite classes I have taken at UVA include Intro to Macroeconomics course (ECON 2020) taught by Coppock, Intermediate Microeconomics course (ECON 3010) taught by Peter Troyan, or Marketing Research Techniques course (COMM 3330) taught by David Mick.
What is your favorite UVA tradition?
My favorite UVA tradition is the yearly snowball fight on the Lawn that happens during the first snow each year. I remember going to it my first year, and it was such an iconic and integral part of the UVA experience.
If you could do one thing to make the world a better place, what would it be?
Later in my career, I want to work in a nonprofit focusing on improving education services for low-income communities. I believe in education and investing in our academic institutions to support struggling communities. Much of the reason I have found success has been the easy access I have had to a good education. This privilege is not as easily accessible for many in the world, the U.S included.