Myy childhood was just my childhood,” Maryanne Koech Gathambo, MPH (MPH ’13), says. But others may find it more noteworthy.
Ms. Gathambo once presented bouquets to the humanitarians Nelson and Winnie Mandela. She shook hands with Richard Leakey, the conservationist, politician and writer. These brushes with luminaries were brought about by her father, a professor and government official.
“It didn’t feel unusual to meet someone like Mrs. Mandela at the time,” Ms. Gathambo says.
Those formative years, however, left an impression. Because of her parents, Ms. Gathambo connected early with people committed to social causes — justice, the environment and more. She saw them following their passions and helping their communities. She wanted to do that, too.
She came to the United States as a college student to study environmental science. The more she studied, the more she realized the critical role public health plays in effecting lasting change.
“Public health became very interesting to me because if we don’t take care of people’s health needs, we cannot take care of our natural resources,” says Ms. Gathambo, who is pursuing her PhD in organizational leadership. “I want to be a change agent.”
She’s already fulfilling that role on campus. As Director of Community-Engaged Learning, Ms. Gathambo helps EVMS students make meaningful connections in Hampton Roads among community groups who most need access to reliable resources and information and the care of trusted providers.
“In Community-Engaged Learning, we see the brightest, the most passionate students,” she says. “These are people who want to make a difference. Interacting with them proves to me that we can all be from different cultures, but our similarities bring us together. It’s like Maya Angelou said: ‘We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.’”
Director, Community-Engaged Learning
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