Nneoma Nwankwo is the Virginia Tech Undergraduate Student of the Year. She will graduate in May 2016 with a degree in political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences
Nwankwo is minoring in public and urban affairs and creative writing. She has maintained a 3.9 grade-point average while engaging in domestic and international service and research on issues facing girls and women in developing nations.
“At Virginia Tech, I have been challenged to live in service to others. I have learned how to lead boldly as I pursue my global development interests. Ultimately, I have discovered that Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) is an active verb, and when I serve those around me, I create a meaningful life for myself.” Nwankwo said.
The Virginia Tech Undergraduate Student of the Year award recognizes a graduating student who has achieved overall excellence during his or her undergraduate career at the university. The recognition is the most prestigious non-academic undergraduate award given at Virginia Tech and is awarded to a student who has exceptional and balanced achievement in academics, leadership, and service. The recipient exemplifies the qualities and values important to a Virginia Tech education, captured in the university motto, Ut Prosim.
In 2013, Nwankwo undertook an independent study supervised by Ralph Hall, assistant professor of Urban Affairs and Planning, School of Public and International Affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. She studied the negative effects of poor menstrual hygiene management (MHM) on the education and socio-economic empowerment of girls in underserved areas of sub-Saharan Africa.
“Nneoma’s ability to lead her own research in Nigeria and develop and deliver workshops on MHM and adolescent sexuality provide some insight into her unique set of skills and capabilities. I believe Nneoma’s focus on MHM in schools is one of the most important issues facing young women in developing countries. Her future research and engagement in this area is likely to be transformative for her and for those she is able to touch.”
Nwankwo was awarded the Austin Michelle Cloyd Fellowship for Social Justice in 2014 for her proposal to pursue service-oriented MHM research in West Africa.
“For me, it was necessary for women’s voices to be heard; thus, in Nigeria, I conducted focus groups and workshops with young women. In the Republic of Niger, I participated in the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council and United Nations Women menstrual hygiene trainings, which were aimed at lobbying national policymakers to establish MHM as a top priority in water and sanitation legislation. Through these unique experiences, I found passion in working in the service of others.”
She presented her research findings at the Women and Gender Discussion Series organized by Virginia Tech’s Office of International Research, Education, and Development. Her research has been published by Virginia Tech’s Innovation for Agricultural Training and Education, and she is a guest-lecturer on MHM in postgraduate classes in Virginia Tech’s programs in urban affairs and planning and women’s and gender studies.
“Through these avenues. I raise awareness about MHM on campus, contribute to research geared toward creating solutions in the field, and motivate students and faculty to work toward the improvement of women’s rights worldwide.” She said
Source: Virginia Tech News