Stories / Scholarships

These National Scholars Are Building a Better Food Future

Emily Rothkrug

October 03, 2019


Culinary school volunteers Photo by Jeff Gurwin
Photo: Jeff Gurwin

Last month we completed the 2019 scholarship cycle, awarding 34 unique scholarships totaling more than $600,000 to deserving students and aspiring chefs across the country.

This year, two new scholarships were created: the Walmart Rediscovering America Scholarship for women and chefs of color, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s Tie the Knot Scholarships for aspiring culinary students who identify as LGBTQIA+.

We also awarded scholarships to our third class of National Scholars. Launched in 2016, the National Scholars program gives out 10 high-impact scholarships of $20,000 to students in our Awards districts who are pursuing culinary school or food systems education.

This year, we’re thrilled to honor students who are studying agriculture, hospitality management, public health, and food science. Check out the full list of 2019 national scholars, below:

  • Bailey Adams (Louisville, CO): Adams will be pursuing a degree in global human development from Georgetown University. After graduating, Adams plans to move back to East Africa to engage with organizations combatting childhood malnutrition with the goal of building community resilience and finding creative local solutions to global food systems challenges.
  • Kyra Bingham (Pittsburgh): After graduating from the University of Toronto, Bingham plans to pursue further education in public policy and/or urban planning. Bingham wants to use a position in either of these fields to advocate for food equity through urban community agriculture as a form of social infrastructure.
  • Mimi Chen (Staten Island, NY): Chen is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management at New York City College of Technology. After competing in the Bocuse d’Or, Chen’s goal is to make her mark in the culinary world.
  • Gwyneth Manser (Davis, CA): Manser will be pursuing a geography Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis with a focus on sustainable food systems. Manser intends to remain in academia as a teacher and researcher to develop more robust and sustainable food systems, particularly in underserved, low-income, and culturally diverse communities.
  • Nolan Monaghan (Manchester, IA): Monaghan plans to pursue internships, research opportunities, and coursework around sustainable agriculture and food security at Iowa State University. Monaghan’s end goal is a career working in developing countries to grow sustainable crop practices that provide nutritious fruits and vegetables to communities whose diets currently emphasize grain-based foods.
  • Anita Morris (Baton Rouge, LA): Morris will be pursuing a graduate degree in food science at Louisiana State University, studying emerging issues and different technologies in food science. Morris would like work for the Food and Drug Administration to ensure consumers that their foods are safe, nutritious, and accurately labeled.
  • Sabine Parrish (Edmonds, WA): Parrish is working to complete a Ph.D. at the University of Oxford focused on gendered inequalities within the specialty coffee market outside of the U.S. Through her work, Parrish hopes to communicate to academic, popular, and industry audiences about social issues through the lens of the food and drinks we consume.
  • Vanessa Garcia Polanco (Lansing, MI): Polanco will be completing graduate studies in community agriculture and food systems at Michigan State University with the goal of continuing to addressing racial and economic inequalities in food, agriculture, and national systems.
  • Nina Sayles (Allston, MA): Sayles will be pursuing dual masters’ degrees in public health nutrition and urban planning from Harvard Graduate School of Public Health and Graduate School of Design. Sayles plans to use what she learns at Harvard to address community health needs in urban environments.
  • Jessica Soldavini (Chapel Hill, NC): Soldavini will be working towards a Ph.D. in nutrition with the goal of a career in academia where she can conduct research, teach, and mentor students. Soldavani’s work focuses on food insecurity, federal nutrition programs, nutrition policy, and nutrition and cooking education.

Learn more about our National Scholars program and other James Beard Foundation scholarships.


Emily Rothkrug is Impact Programs manager at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.