Wanjiku (Wawa) Gatheru is a sophomore at the University of Connecticut pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Environmental Economics and Policy. At UConn, she currently interns at the Office of Environmental Policy and serves as the Student Services Chairwoman of the Undergraduate Student Government. A First Year Experience Mentor and volunteer for SOS Food Recovery and Cross Cultural Connections, Wawa is also an avid singer-songwriter, having been named "The Voice of UConn" her freshman year. She is particularly interested in the intersection of environmental activism and food sovereignty, previously serving as a student coordinator in the Husky Nutrition Program and currently acting as a research assistant in the Nutrition Department. She plans one day to become an Environmental Foreign Service officer for USAID, a goal that was solidified during her year-long fellowship with the U.S. State Department in Thailand. In obtaining this goal, she also hopes to take part in the redefinition of culturally-competent, sustainable environmental development.
My love for the environment began with my love of food. Growing up, I spent my summer days plucking fresh tomatoes from my mother's garden under the sun. My first contact with the environment was through those tomatoes, through food, and that love has sustained me since. I see food as a solution to a multitude of different social and ecological problems, and my involvement reflects this. Since arriving at UConn, my experience has revolved around the intersections of food and both the natural and human environment. I have had the opportunity to investigate the intersections between nutrition, food access, and social circumstances as a research assistant in the Nutrition Department and as the student coordinator of the HuskyReads program, in which I coordinated nutrition education lessons in the Greater Hartford area. I have looked at the connections between access and waste as a volunteer in the SOS Food Recovery program, where I deliver food from the university cafés to a local soup kitchen. Outside of UConn, I am also a research assistant with Women's Earth and Climate Action Network, in which I focus on case-studies revolving around women involved in farming, food justice, and land rights. After graduation, I plan to pursue a dual JD/MEM (Master in Environmental Management), with the goal of entering the USAID Foreign Service as an Environmental Officer.