Wanjiku (Wawa) Gatheru is a junior majoring in Environmental Studies with a minor in Global Studies. Prior to arriving at college, Wawa spent a year in Thailand as a KL-YES Scholar of the U.S. State Department, an experience that solidified her commitment towards culturally-component conservation. Having first become interested in environmental issues through her childhood garden, Wawa has utilized her connection with food as a way to explore solutions to different social and ecological problems. During her second semester Freshman year, Wawa served as a student coordinator of the Husky Nutrition program, in which she led a group of undergraduates deliver nutrition education lessons to preschoolers in the Greater Hartford area.
After this experience, Wawa was awarded a Bridging the Gap fellowship and spent the summer of 2017 as a research assistant in the lab of Dr. Amy Mobley of the Nutritional Sciences. It was through these experiences and her continued involvement in Dr. Mobley’s lab throughout the 2017-2018 academic year that Wawa began to look into ways to simultaneously address food insecurity and environmental issues - thus, her IDEA Grant project was born.
As a UConn IDEA Grant recipient, she studies the issue of food insecurity among members of the UConn Storrs community and is developing an on-campus food access initiative that improves upon the current conventional food pantry system and provides healthy food items in a dignified and inclusive space.
Wawa is also a Doris Duke Conservation Scholar at the University of California - Santa Cruz, a multi-summer, undergraduate experiential learning experience that exposes early-career college students to the field of environmental conservation through field research, leadership and professional training. This past summer, Wawa spend her time conducting research across several UC Reserves and National Parks, creating a report on the diversity in the California National Park visitation.
On campus, she also serves as the student body Vice President, Vice President of EcoAlition, and intern at the Office of Environmental Policy.
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