Loving, grateful and generous are only a few words to describe Moriah Santiago. This environmental science major from Long Island is dedicated to giving back and seeing the beautiful side of life.
President of The Food Group here on campus, Santiago and her club are dedicated to providing a place for anyone with an interest in any type of food justice. Their focuses range from any type of food sustainability to sharing gardening related skills and interests in local food systems.
As described on “The Food Group at SUNY Plattsburgh” Facebook page, they are “aimed at raising overall awareness of our food, where it comes from and where it goes.”
Santiago has a genuine love for everything she does. “It’s a place where we can all talk about issues we’re passionate about or just things that make us really excited and that we love,” she said.
Roommate and best friend Kelly Martin describes Santiago as an inspiration.
“She has been a role model to me since I first met her as a freshman two years ago,” Martin said. “She radiates happiness and pure kindness. Moriah gives great advice and the world’s best hugs.”
Apart from her work with The Food Group, Santiago has been able to take a part in a plethora of morally-enriching experiences, all thanks to the opportunities here at PSUC.
Such opportunities consisted of going to England two summers ago. Although she only spent a short time across the pond, she was able to take part in a work-trade program on a local farm, with Santiago describing the experience as “awesome.”
Santiago was also able to take part in a similar work-trade on a New York farm not too far from Plattsburgh. With all the experiences Santiago has participated in, she has become very grateful for everything including the agriculture community of Plattsburgh.
“They’ve been so generous in extending their knowledge to the students and opening them up to different ways of learning,” she said.
However, one work-trade job she will never forget is her enriching experience working in Hudson Valley. Being a part of a full functioning holistic retreat center, Santiago worked in the dinning hall as a server. In her free time she was able to take a number of classes that the retreat center offered, ranging from dance classes to West African drumming.
Through her experience and work at PSUC, including The Food Group and the Real Food Challenge, Santiago plans on taking her ideas and love for food sustainability to AmeriCorps. Her dream is to work through a service job for AmeriCorps called Food Corps.
Being part of Food Corps, Santiago will go to low-income communities and work with their public school system to improve the schools lunches and begin processes of creating and maintaining a garden for the student body. Implementing nutritional and health education programs into the students schooling would also be a big part of what she is looking to do.
“I think that whatever Moriah decides she wants to do, she’ll get done,” said Curt Gervich, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at PSUC. He has seen the progression of Santiago’s academic advancement first-hand.
With hopes of seeing Santiago as a successful political advocate or making strides in advancing environmental policy, Gervich can see nothing but a bright future for Santiago.
“She listens well, follows instructions and she follows through, which are key professional skills,” he said.
Santiago describes her love for PSUC as a “diamond in the rough” — a place that has allowed her to meet many spectacular characters who she said she is blessed to have crossed paths with.
She said that her overall experience is one big exploration of just meeting really wonderful people and having fun.
“It’s super simple,” she said “My capacity to love other people and love myself within the time here has just grown immensely. There’s just a lot of love here.”
Email Kelsie Boudreau