Welcome back to our VISTA Spotlight series in which we’re spotlighting our AmeriCorps VISTAs and our member organizations who host our VISTAs during their year of service.  Our host sites are the backbone of our VISTA program. Host site supervisors commit to guiding and mentoring members through their service year and are an instrumental asset for our VISTA’s professional development.

Today’s spotlight is on Marguerite Leek, an NC Hunger Corps VISTA serving at Duke University in the Graduate and Professional Student Government Community Pantry. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Communications and Global Studies and a minor in Women and Gender Studies. Before her VISTA service with NC Campus Compact, Marguerite served as a VISTA at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. She was excited about the opportunity to continue serving with AmeriCorps a little closer to home in Durham, NC.

The Graduate and Professional Student Government is an organization whose purpose is to advocate on behalf of all graduate and professional students and support the well-being of all individuals and groups of their student population. One of the ways that they do this is through The Community Pantry that was established in 2017. The pantry provides food items, school supplies, household products, hygiene products, baby care supplies, and gently used professional clothing to all Duke graduate and professional students and their families.

Marguerite’s supervisor, Carolyn Gilbert, is the Assistant Director of Graduate & Professional Student Services in Duke’s office of student affairs. She began this role in February of 2022, but she has been at Duke for several years. Carolyn has served as the Assistant Director in Duke’s School of Engineering, as the Program Manager at Duke’s International Programs Office in Fuqua, and as the Project Specialist in Duke’s Office of Student Affairs in Fuqua. Her experience with Duke and the Durham area has been invaluable in her support and guidance of Marguerite’s service.

In the Community Pantry, Marguerite compiles local food assistance resources and information, collects monetary and in-kind donations for the Pantry, and raises awareness about food insecurity on college campuses and at Duke. She is working on a meal swipe sharing program where students can donate their extra dining hall meal swipes to their peers who are running low. She is also part of a Food Security Action Team that was formed in the fall of 2021 with the goal of bringing stakeholders from across campus with tangible resources to work towards ending food insecurity at Duke. She has also conducted surveys on campus to assess the levels of food security among students at Duke.

One of the projects that Marguerite is most proud of is the 2022 Campus Food Insecurity Symposium that took place in March. She brought together leaders from across North Carolina in the fight against food insecurity on college campuses. With over 200 attendees, the Campus Food Symposium was a huge success, and Marguerite received wonderful feedback from all who attended the event.

After service, Marguerite will earn her Masters of Science in Food Studies at Syracuse University. We cannot wait to see the impact she will continue to make in the communities that she serves!

To learn more about the Graduate & Professional Student Community Pantry, follow their Instagram @DukeGPSGPantry or at their website GPSG.Duke.edu.