Appalachia Regional Resilience Intro Blog Post 2023

Hello! My name is Aidan Moynagh. I am a current senior marketing major here at Pitt, and pursuing a certificate in leadership and ethics. As far as something unique about myself, I can cook minute rice in 58 seconds.

This year, I am honored to have the privilege of participating in the Pitt ACRI Fayette County regional resilience project. 2023 marks the third year of a ten-year-long commitment that the University of Pittsburgh has undertaken with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). The goal is to contribute the university’s resources and expertise to help promote economic development in Fayette County, Pennsylvania.

Fayette County is located fully within the Appalachian region, covering roughly 800 square miles of terrain. The county contains lots of forested wilderness, dotted with historical and artistic monuments like Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater house and Kentuck Knob. The county is also home to friendly small towns and close-knit communities. However, since the decline of the coal and manufacturing industries in the region, Fayette County has faced socioeconomic challenges in recent decades. This serves as a bellwether for many of the hardships faced throughout Appalachia.

The ARC views Fayette County as an important area and hopes to stimulate economic development across the region through targeted innovation, partnerships, and investments here. Our student project will contribute to this goal by building on the groundwork laid by previous Pitt students over the past two years. We will expand community outreach, while also identifying new opportunities for research partnerships, training programs, and other ventures that can bring renewed prosperity.

I believe this project has immense importance for the future of Fayette County residents. I feel grateful and honored for the chance to work closely with my fellow team members, the ACRI and Fayette citizens on an initiative that can have real local impact. The long-term nature of this commitment also makes the project unique. Since most college projects get picked up and dropped when a semester ends, knowing ours is part of a decade-long effort adds more meaning and weight to the work we will do.

When I graduate from Pitt, the first thing I plan to do is to do own thing and start traveling abroad. My general career interests involve contributing to entrepreneurship, product development, and producing written content like blogs, newsletters or books. I’m also passionate about sustainability and would love to use my skills to help build resilience against climate change. Of course, at the end of the day I want to do whatever gives me passion and makes me happy.

The ACRI project aligns nicely with many of my interests. It will allow me to gain valuable experience with research, writing, developing, and implementing new ideas to help a community. I also like the fact that the project is interdisciplinary, which can expose me to different viewpoints and ideas.

I decided to join the ACRI project because it presents a chance to make a positive impact in an underserved region right here in Pennsylvania, while also developing useful skills I can apply throughout my career. It will build my capabilities with communication, project management, leadership and more. I’m sure I will also gain other invaluable lessons that I haven’t even anticipated yet!

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