Enowski proves our lives aren’t defined by zip codes

Holly Enowski with two women she worked with in Kenya through the Global Youth Institute in 2016.

Holly Enowski found the only spare moment she had in the day to sit down. It was already 1:30 p.m., and her Chinese food was long past being cold, yet Enowski happily ate as she chatted.

Enowski is a triplet, but she is anything except identical when it comes to her compassion for helping others.

She has pushed herself to be a high achiever, and is now a senior in the Science and Agricultural Journalism program with minors in Business, Agricultural Economics, and International Agriculture.  She attributes her goal-minded attitude to being raised on a farm with her two brothers, Hunter and Harley.

Eldon, Missouri, is home for Enowski. This is where she graduated from high school in 2016. Enowski’s boyfriend of eight years, Joey Hanes, has watched as she devoted herself to be a leader and successful in schoolwork.

“All through high school, she was involved with tons of organizations and was always completely dedicated to them all,” Hanes said. “Her level of dedication is inspiring and motivates me to be my best self.”

This same drive is what pushed Enowski upon graduation to seek something more. Enowski came from a small town, yet she has big ambitions and is working towards large goals. She knew she wanted to experience more than a small-town summer.

In the summer of 2016, Enowski went on a research trip to Kenya through the Global Youth Institute. There she spent two months interviewing more than 80 farmers about their battle against food insecurity. Conducting intensive research regarding aflatoxin in corn and working for the first time, she discovered a level of passion within herself, that she never encountered before. While there, Enowski kept a blog and wrote for her local newspaper. She hoped her articles would inspire those in Eldon to understand that even though one is from rural America, it does not limit what a person can accomplish. She knew she found her future when she got ready to come back home.

“My Kenya trip, as a whole, changed my life and gave me the fulfillment I was looking for,” Enowski said. “I realized I was sad to leave, and all of college since then has been about,‘How do I get back?’ or ‘How do I help them?”

In addition to her research, she also taught English to a class of 84 fifth graders. She soon became aware that through those students’ eyes she was a “millionaire” for having the most basic things here in the United States. Before she left, she gifted them all with erasers, and they wrote her letters about what they want to become when they’re older. JJ, one of Enowski’s sweetest students wrote a touching letter.

“He wrote in his letter that he wanted to be a pilot, but he knew that wasn’t possible because he knew he was always hungry,” Enowski said.

Reading his letter her heart broke and she became determined to show that no matter a person’s origin, it doesn’t affect their ability to achieve their dreams.

“Where you live shouldn’t define what you’re capable of doing,” Enowski said pushing her food away in contempt. “I find that thought disgusting. It doesn’t matter, whether domestic or international your zip code shouldn’t have any bearing on basic human rights.”

Since coming back, Enowski has been a strong voice for food security. She has competed in Miss Missouri pageants for four years, and was the 2019 second runner up for Miss Missouri. Enowski uses her position to reach people across the state and share her message. Her mother, Lisa, knows that her daughter’s determination won’t cease until she wins.

“She will explode when she gets it [the Miss Missouri crown] and use this platform to really connect with the hearts of those around her,” Lisa said.

She spoke of Holly’s childhood saying her daughter always sought out those who needed a friend and always fights for the underdog. In the interview, Lisa explained that her daughter cares so much she gives the clothes off her back to help others.

“Holly wouldn’t tell you this, but I am proud of her generosity,” Lisa said. “She even left her shoes for her African momma in Kenya.”

This is just one moment of many in Enowski’s life where she has demonstrated how in every moment she tries to give back.

Enowski expressed that through her years at the University of Missouri she has collected an excellent support team. One person she credits to helping her navigate through life is William (Willi) Meyers. Meyers is a professor emeritus of Agricultural and Applied Economics and the training coordinator for CAFNR International Programs. He aided in the establishment of a Missouri Youth Institute, a branch from the same organization that allowed Enowski to travel to Kenya. Now, she assists him and the organization in recruiting high school students.

“She’s very active in helping the growth of the Missouri Youth Institute,” Meyers said. “She is making it better for new students, so they can get a life changing experience like her.”

Whether in the states speaking in front of large audiences, or across the world reaching out a lending hand, Enowski has made it her mission to ensure those around her have what they need. From the time she was little, and continuing today, Enowski has kept herself busy being a voice for those who feel trapped by where they come from. She looks forward to returning to her students in Kenya and visiting several more countries in an effort to end this hunger crisis. She lives each day without letting her zip code confine her, only fortify her motivation to achieve more.