Jayde Powell, a fourth-year honors undergraduate student in the College of Science, has received the Sam Lieberman Regents' Award for Student Scholarship for her academic achievements, leadership ability, and service contributions throughout the state. Formerly known as the Regents' Scholar Award, the award was renamed for Regent Sam Lieberman who passed away in 2020, in commemoration of his service and dedication to public higher education in Nevada.
Powell is majoring in biology and psychology with two minors, one in addiction treatment services and one in chemistry. Powell has been a dedicated community servant from a young age. Most recently, Powell founded the nonprofit Shopping Angels to deliver groceries to the at-risk and immunocompromised during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below she answers a few questions about her path to science, Shopping Angels and more.
You are a double-major in biology and psychology with two minors, one in addiction treatment services and one in chemistry. What drew you to these particular fields of science?
I have held a long-standing interest in behavioral sciences, but coming into college, I knew medicine was the career for me. My passion for learning about the human brain and behavior is what drew me to psychology. For my minor in addiction treatment services, I remember seeing a flyer in one of the campus buildings and after taking the first course in the sequence, I was hooked. I am hugely dedicated to raising awareness for mental health and destigmatizing addiction, so this major/minor pairing was only natural for me.
I later went on to enroll and complete the human anatomy course sequence, and this is ultimately what led me to declare a second major in biology. Studying biology has allowed me to learn so much about how the world works and is something I feel is so valuable for my future in the medical field. I ended up doing some research and realized I could declare another minor in Chemistry if I took one extra class. Chemistry has been one of the classes I struggled with in the past, but I wanted to try it out, so I added that very recently and will be finishing in the fall!
You have spent much of your undergraduate education dedicated to serving others through volunteer opportunities, even launching your own non-profit organization: Shopping Angels. Why do you feel the need to give back to your community as you have?
At the end of the day, I feel that life is best lived when helping others, even if it’s only in small ways on a day-to-day basis.
I wholeheartedly contribute my passion for community service to my family and upbringing. During middle and high school, my mom became a Wish Granter for Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada, and I was her right-hand gal. To connect with and serve Wish Kids and their families, you must be at least 18 years of age, so I helped in other areas as much as I could – signage and other tasks during the “Run/Walk for a Wish” events, putting together gift baskets for families, or making creative little countdown calendars for the Wish Kids.
Both of my parents are military veterans, so service was very integral to our lives. I hope to contribute in this way as a military physician in the future
At the end of the day, I feel that life is best lived when helping others, even if it’s only in small ways on a day-to-day basis. I also consider myself an Orthodox Christian, so service is also something engrained in my faith; I try to live by these principles each day. I have been lucky and privileged in many ways throughout my life and feel that the Christian thing to do is to help others however I may be able.
What is Shopping Angels and how did you come up with the idea?
Shopping Angels is a 501(c)(3) that provides free delivery for groceries and other essentials to at-risk populations. The traditional route of receiving services occurs when a client is still able to pay for their groceries, but simply needs the (free) help to shop for and deliver groceries to their home. The secondary route of receiving services occurs when clients required financial assistance to acquire food. This is an area of the organization that I hope to nurture so that we can further address food insecurity.
My mom was the inspiration for Shopping Angels. We were on the phone when she mentioned her plans to ask our elderly neighbors what groceries they needed picked up. Something just clicked and as soon as our phone call ended, I was putting together social media advertisements about a free delivery service for groceries and other essentials to clients who are predominately at-risk. The vast majority of our early and dedicated volunteers came from the NV Alpha chapter of Phi Delta Epsilon, and the assistance and support I’ve received from the University and peers has been overwhelming, but inspiring.
What is next for you, your education and your life?
I’m very happy to be staying in Reno to finish my degrees! I will be part-time next semester and will be graduating December 2021. I plan to teach English as a foreign language in South Korea throughout 2022! After this time abroad, I will be returning home to Las Vegas and begin the medical school application process.
What advice do you have for other young students in the College of Science?
Being a part of Shopping Angels has taught me something very important. Many pre-health students felt the impact of the pandemic, not only in personal matters but also in their academic and professional lives. Science courses that were once taught with in-person labs were entirely remote, planned shadowing and volunteer work cut short. However, just because the world is put on pause does not mean you have to be. There are always ways to help others, ways to make an impact. It just takes some time, but you can always begin to leave your mark.
Another piece of advice that I would give is to not underestimate yourself or your peers, especially when you focus on collaboration and supporting one another. When I started this journey with Shopping Angels, I had only expected to help a few seniors in Las Vegas and Reno. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that I would be here, speaking to clients and volunteers not only across the nation but in other countries as well. Thanks to my family, friends, and peers who stepped up to serve in leadership roles within the organization, it has achieved so much more than expected, and I feel blessed to be a part of this.