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Aspiring social worker chosen for health fellowship in Alabama

The Office of Fellowships is happy to announce that Ryley Boddeker-O’Connor (SESP ’23) has been chosen for the 2023–2024 cohort of the Project Horseshoe Farm Community Health Fellowship! Next year, Ryley will work at the fellowship’s placement in Perry County, Alabama.

Ryley is a 2023 graduate from Columbus, Ohio. She majored in social policy with a minor in legal studies while also completing the civic engagement certificate. During her time at Northwestern, she worked for the Evanston Community Foundation, supporting their mission to promote equity in Evanston through building and Photo of Ryley Boddeker-O'Connordistributing resources to local organizations. She also served as chief chapters officer of Supplies for Dreams, a student-run 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides Chicago Public Schools students with critical resources and extracurricular opportunities, including basic school supplies, field trips, and one-on-one mentoring. In this role, she worked with teachers and administrators to coordinate programming at six CPS elementary schools and supervised student leaders at Supplies for Dreams’ three chapter organizations at Northwestern, Loyola University, and the University of Chicago.

In addition, she served as a peer adviser to first-year students for two years. During her senior year, she was a member of the Wildcat Welcome Board of Directors, where she led training sessions for twenty-two peer advisers to prepare them for their mentor and facilitator role for Wildcat Welcome.

Ryley also served as an intern at the Chicago District of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where she conducted over 135 intake interviews for individuals looking to file charges of discrimination against their employers. Talking to individuals who have experienced employment discrimination inspired her to pursue a career in social work to support those who have suffered from traumatic experiences.

Ryley is excited for the opportunity to explore the social contexts of health through direct service during the fellowship. After her time with Project Horseshoe Farm, Ryley hopes to pursue a degree in social work.

Project Horseshoe Farm logoProject Horseshoe Farm works to build on the strengths of local communities, improve the health and quality of life for vulnerable populations, and prepare citizen service leaders. The fellowship funds recent college graduates to pursue a bridge year dedicated to community service.

Ryley will be the ninth Wildcat to serve as a Project Horseshoe Farm fellow. Last year, Samira Asseh (SESP ’22) was the first Wildcat placed in Pomona, California. Catherine Chen (McCormick '21) won the fellowship in 2021 and was preceded by Pooja Kanthawar (SESP '17) and Mary Stoa (WCAS '20) in 2020. In 2018, Priya Garigipata (WCAS ’17) joined the cohort, while Timothy Huang (WCAS ’17) and Kevin Wang (WCAS ’17) were selected in 2017. In 2016, Rafa Ifthikar (WCAS ’16) was the first Northwestern graduate chosen for the program.

Contact Jason Kelly Roberts at to learn more about the Project Horseshoe Farm Fellowship.