“I really don’t like doing easy things. I like challenging myself,” said Lello Guluma, a senior in LSA, double majoring in Program in the Environment (PitE) and International Studies. “That’s one thing I’ve learned about myself here. I find myself most engaged when I’m given a challenge.”
Guluma, who plans to go to graduate school to study global health, has an eclectic and wide range of interests. Besides her scholastic endeavors as a double major, she is a Diversity Peer Educator for the University of Michigan Housing and a Graham Sustainability Scholar.
“I’m sort of all over the place in terms of my interests because I find so many things interesting, but they’re all so interconnected. I’m interested in health, I’m interested in sustainability, I’m interested in technology. There are connections among them that I hope to hone in on.”
Guluma declared her PitE major after her freshman year, inspired by her work during an alternative spring break trip. She worked with Growing Power, an organization with community gardens in Milwaukee, a predominately black city with a significant food desert.
“I became interested in understanding how access to fresh, affordable foods can make a community thrive.”
After her experience in Milwaukee, Guluma looked for an internship working in nature and had a fulfilling summer as an intern at the U-M Matthaei Botanical Gardens.
“I came across the Matthaei Botanical Garden internships, and then I worked on the campus farm. While I was working there, I thought, ‘I could really do this for the rest of my college career.’” As a result of this experience, she declared her major in PitE and later, added an International Studies major, with a concentration in Global Health and Environment.
“[PitE and International Studies] seems like a unique combination but actually a lot of people double major in both departments. Global Health and the Environment, it was pretty easy to mix classes,” said Guluma.
The spring break in Milwaukee and the internship at the Gardens was the springboard for her interest in environmental work. Guluma is currently applying to master’s programs in public health and hopes to work internationally. During her undergraduate career, she completed two research projects abroad to supplement her academic work in public health.
“I did a research project in Ghana that had to deal with maternal health and medical technology. That was my real formative research experience,” Guluma said. “Apart from that, I’ve worked in a developing organization in Ethiopia that dealt with gender and education. The organization provides the resources, but the community has the autonomy to move forward in the best way that they see fit.”
Guluma emphasized that she found her passion in public health because of the interdisciplinary context, and would love to be able to travel more extensively in Africa doing public health work. Many inspirations galvanized her love for helping others and learning, but one film stood out as a motivator.
“The turning point of my academic career was watching Half the Sky [a documentary film shot in 10 countries focusing on turning oppression into opportunity for women]."
"Everybody has talent but not everybody has opportunities,” Guluma said. “So that’s always been the voice in the back of my head, saying to me that you can work a little harder, you can do more. Anyone else in the world could be doing what you do, but you have this opportunity, so why not take advantage of it as much as you can?”