Meet UConn’s Rhodes, Marshall & Mitchell Scholarship Nominees

UConn’s 2019-20 Rhodes, Marshall, and Mitchell Scholarship Nominees. From left: Wanjiku Gatheru (CAHNR ’20), Kathleen Renna (CAHNR ’20), and Himaja Nagireddy (CLAS ’20).


The Office of National Scholarships & Fellowships is pleased to introduce UConn’s 2019-20 nominees for the Rhodes, Marshall, and Mitchell Scholarships.  Congratulations (and good luck!) to these outstanding young leaders.


Wanjiku (Wawa) Gatheru (CAHNR’20), from Pomfret, CT, is a senior majoring in Environmental Studies with minors in Global Studies and Urban and Community Studies. A 2019 Truman and Udall Scholar, Wawa is nominated for the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships. Through internships with the City of Hartford’s Office of Sustainability, the Sierra Club, and the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, she has worked to uplift the voices of those most adversely impacted by environmental inequities. A UCSC Doris Duke Conservation Scholar, Wawa is committed to connecting grassroots movements to institutions of power, as a lead organizer in CT’s first Youth Climate Lobby Day, founding member of the University President’s Council on Race and Diversity, and crucial leader in the successful implementation of an environmental literacy general education requirement. As co-founder of the UConn Access to Food Effort (UCAFE), she co-led the state’s first assessment of food insecurity at a public institution of higher education and testified in support of CT H.B. 7257. UCAFE’s research has been cited in U.S. Senator Chris Murphy’s report, The Hidden Cost of College. On campus, she has promoted the collective wellbeing of students as the Vice President of the Undergraduate Student Government, student chair of the University-wide “Metanoia: Youth for Change,” and intern at the Office of Sustainability. She currently serves as the Vice President of Administration for the Student Union Board of Governors (SUBOG). In the future, Wawa plans to become a policy-maker and leading scholar in the intersections of food, environment, and critical race theory. Her ultimate goal is to empower communities of color in the environmental decision-making process.


Himaja Nagireddy (CLAS ’20), from Acton, MA, is a senior pursuing three degrees in Molecular and Cell Biology, Physiology and Neurobiology, and Sociology with a minor in Chemistry. She is a STEM Scholar, Honors Scholar, BOLD Scholar, and 2019 Leadership Legacy Fellow.  In 2019, she was nominated for the Truman and Udall Scholarships. Himaja is an elected representative of the National Council for the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA), a civil organization founded by Eleanor Roosevelt, where she works with over 20,000 members to coordinate efforts to support the UN. Through her work at UNA-USA, she has launched a national gender equality education program called the 2019 Emerging Leaders Fellowship and served as a representative to the 62nd and 63rd Commission on the Status of Women. This year, Himaja will be also be serving as a UNA-USA and UConn representative for the COP25 in Santiago, Chile. Himaja is currently pursuing two Honors theses — one in Sociology and Molecular and Cell Biology at the UConn-Eversource Center and another in Genomic Medicine at the Jackson Laboratory in Farmington, CT. Himaja is also a 2019-2020 Virtual Student Federal Intern for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) where she works on world food resiliency research with the Senior Youth Advisor for the Bureau for Food Security. Through her work, Himaja constantly strives to better understand the intersectionalities between health, society, and the environment. Himaja is a nominee for the 2020 Marshall Scholarship.


Kathleen Renna (CAHNR ’20) is a senior Diagnostic Genetic Sciences major from Troy, NY. A BOLD Women’s Leadership Network Scholar, she has worked to educate middle and high school students on healthcare genetics topics by founding Laboratory Experience and Diagnostic Genetics Education (LEDGE). Through LEDGE, Kathleen promotes genetic literacy while simultaneously improving female visibility in STEM professions. She also served as a College Ambassador for CAHNR through which she worked with the Associate Dean to establish UConn’s first course in One Health, a concept that intersects human, animal, and environmental health to better understand global issues. Kathleen’s passion for One Health led her to organize UConn Students for One Health, a group whose mission is to enhance student awareness of One Health throughout the university through advocacy events each semester, including the first undergraduate-focused One Health conference in the U.S. A University Scholar, Kathleen has worked in Dr. Trakhtenberg’s Neuroregeneration Laboratory at UConn Health for almost three years, studying the impact of gene expression changes on axon regeneration to better understand optic neuropathies through the Health Research Program. She also serves as President of United Against Inequities in Disease, a public health-oriented group on campus, and as a Student Supervisor for UC Cafes. In her downtime, she enjoys photography and finding quirky coffee shops to edit her photos in. In the future, Kathleen hopes to combine her passions to improve access to precision medicine in developing nations as a clinical geneticist. Kathleen was nominated for the Marshall and Mitchell Scholarships.


To learn more about these and other nationally-competitive scholarship and fellowship opportunities, visit the Office of National Scholarships & Fellowships and click “Talk to an Advisor.”


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