Kinesiology senior hopes to help others through food


When Annabelle Ha moved to Ann Arbor in 2018 to start her freshman year at the University of Michigan, she felt alone.

She grew up in Gainesville, Florida, a small town that is home to the University of Florida. Ha said she wanted to expand her horizons and move out of state for college. She was the only person from her town to attend U-M.

A driving factor in her decision to select U-M was the School of Kinesiology’s prestigious health and nutrition program. After graduating this spring, Ha plans to take a gap year before pursuing a master’s degree in nutrition or dietetics.

Annabelle Ha
Annabelle Ha said a driving factor in her decision to select U-M was the School of Kinesiology’s prestigious health and nutrition program. (Courtesy of Annabelle Ha)

“I’ve been with kinesiology since freshman year, so I think that just speaks to how I feel about the major and the great experiences that I’ve had,” Ha said. “There’s a natural segue for me with how the body holistically works together with physical activity but also with what you eat. So, I thought having that background would be really beneficial.”

While Ha enjoyed her first semester classes, she struggled to make friends. She decided to join kinesiology student government where she found a community.

After talking with others who had similar struggles, Ha said, she knew she wanted to be a part of the student government leadership to help kinesiology students find friends.

“I learned everyone was struggling in their own ways, and after that happened, I really wanted to help other people that would also be in the same shoes,” Ha said.

For the past year, Ha has served as the kinesiology student government’s president. She created several events to give kinesiology students the opportunity to meet one another and make friends.

Throughout the past three years, Ha has worked as a research assistant with the University of Florida’s Food Science and Human Nutrition Department. She helped develop a meal-kit program that provides food and tools to people with low socioeconomic status to help spread awareness of the benefits of healthy eating.

Ha helped test recipes, write recipe cards and create videos. She also developed new recipes for the meal-kits, including a burrito bowl.

“Through that experience I definitely learned nutrition was what I wanted to do because for the first time I wasn’t stressed with anything, which I feel like that’s a sign that means it definitely fits,” Ha said.

Throughout her time at U-M, Ha has participated in several outside organizations as well. She is a member of Spoon University, a club showcasing the different food options around Ann Arbor, and the Asian American Association, which encourages Asian students to connect through different hosted events like movie nights.


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