Presenting at last week’s Global Honors Spring Colloquium, Noelle Gichohi started by thanking her mentors and supporters. “I stood in front of the audience and said, ‘I grew up in a village in Kenya, and it took a village to get me here’”. Her ‘colloquium village’ included UW Tacoma professors and librarians, a Highline Community College professor, fellow students and family.
For Noelle and 12 other graduating seniors in UW Tacoma’s Global Honors program, the colloquium was a chance to share and reflect on their capstone research projects. They will now apply their learning as community leaders heading toward jobs and graduate school.
The students presented before audiences of 40 to 60 faculty, staff, community members and fellow students. Diverse in terms of discipline and geography, their projects exemplify UW Tacoma’s emphasis on student-led, use-inspired research.
Inspired by her work with State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Williams during a Legislative Internship, Kristie Weisert’s thesis examines sex trafficking in the U.S. and India. Human trafficking is a pressing issue locally and internationally, and Kristie pointed out Washington state’s efforts to address the problem through new legislation.
Brandon Napenias Oreiro’s research project explores the development of Filipino American identity in the context of a globalized culture. A leader in UW Tacoma’s Filipino American Student Association, Brandon paired his research findings with examples of the group’s efforts to create a sense of identity and community on campus and in the region.
Noelle Gichohi’s research project was inspired by her study abroad to Italy. “We were studying preschools, and I saw that [Italian schools] had kitchens right next to the classrooms and served the kids three-course meals on real plates. It was totally different from the U.S., where my kids went to preschool, and Kenya, where I grew up.”
She began thinking about how place influences the food children are served at school, and how parents’ perceive the healthfulness of school meals. For her thesis, Noelle surveyed Kenyan and U.S. parents about their children’s school meals, and their perceptions of the meals.
“Carrying out a research project and presenting at the colloquium “was enriching for me personally and as a scholar,” Noelle reflects. The experience gave her new confidence about her ideas and ability to communicate. “I won’t be afraid to stand up and give my opinion in the workplace,” she says, “I’ll think, ‘I’ve done Global Honors, I can do anything.’”
During his remarks at the colloquium, UW Tacoma Chancellor Kenyon Chan underscored the local relevance of the students’ research and the urgency of the issues addressed. Echoing Noelle Gichohi’s recognition of her village, Chancellor Chan also emphasized the students’ important roles as leaders – locally and globally.