Pomfret Woman is First Rhodes Scholar From UConn

Sean Flynn/UConn Photo

A young woman from Pomfret is the first University of Connecticut student to become a Rhodes Scholar. 

Wanjiku (Wawa) Gatheru, a UConn senior, is one of 32 people nationwide who have been selected for the American Rhodes Scholar Class of 2020 and she will continue her studies at the University of Oxford in England. 

Gatheru, a first generation American of Kenyan descent, is studying environmental studies at UConn and is minoring in global studies and urban and community studies, according to an article UConn posted online.  

Her profile on the Rhodes Trust website says she “has founded and led programs on food insecurity and sustainability.” 

In her time at UConn, she has been active in student government, sustainability and environmental issues, food security and many other programs and initiatives both on and off UConn’s campuses, according to UConn. 

At Oxford, she intends to work toward dual master’s degrees in Nature, Society, and Environmental Governance and Evidence-based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation. 

She also plans to “research overlooked barriers that prevent people of color from participating in the environmental field.” 

Gatheru is a Truman Scholar, a Udall Scholar, a UN-USA Foundation Global Health Fellow, and a Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange Scholar. 

In the future, she would like to run for Congress. 

Words or praise are coming in, including from State Rep. Pat Boyd.  

Learn more about Gatheru here.  

Three Yale students and a Yale graduate are in the 2020 class of Rhodes Scholars as well. 

Lillian Moore-Eissenberg, of Roslindale, Massachusetts, is a senior at Yale University where she has double majors in English and Philosophy. She plans to study philosophy at Oxford. 

Liana Wang, of Houston, is a senior at Yale University where she majors in Economics. She is a volunteer tax preparer and helps assists low-income residents in New Haven in filing tax returns and she is also an award-winning columnist at the Yale Daily News, according to the Rhodes Trust. She is the first in her family to attend college and plans to work as an economist, focusing on labor, public finance, and social policy. 

Christina Pao, of Portland, Oregon, is a Yale senior completing a double major in Political Science and Classics, as well as a master’s degree in Political Science. At Oxford, she will study sociology and demography. 

Laura Plata, of Palatine, Illinois, graduated from Yale in May with a major in Ethics, Politics and Economics. She plans to pursue a degree in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies and one in Comparative Social Policy.

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