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CAHNRS Coug making a difference

Posted by Scott Weybright | June 22, 2018

By Maya Wahl, CAHNRS Academic Programs

CAHNRS is a diverse college that is home to students with various backgrounds, interests and motivations. The common denominator between all CAHNRS students is that they hope to contribute to a system larger than themselves. There is always a pathway that leads past the classroom, campus, and even the United States.

Esther Rugoli sits on a chair in a greenhouse surrounded by plants on tables and on the floor in individual planters.
WSU sophomore Esther Rugoli works in the greenhouse on a research project.

Students from near and far join the CAHNRS community to be a part of something big and what they do after they leave is entirely up to them. Some students decide to continue working in the Coug community, some find jobs across the nation and some develop their skills to make the global community a richer place.

Esther Rugoli, a rising junior studying Agricultural Biotechnology, has big ideas and plans to affect change here on campus and in her home in Rwanda. She grew up on a subsistence farm in rural Rwanda with 11 brothers and sisters and seeks to make farming in Rwanda better for families like her own.

“It’s been my dream since I was young, to study agriculture in college and help Africa be more food secure,” Rugoli said. “My family wanted me to become a doctor because they knew I was doing well in my classes. But I wanted to be a farmer, and help farmers become business oriented.”

Since coming to WSU, Esther has worked with Dr. Kim Campbell, a WSU adjunct faculty member and USDA-ARS scientist. Their work focuses on plant breeding projects. Ester has shown interest in plant breeding and hopes to find ways to improve crops so that they can thrive in Rwanda. She is invested in her work and understands the value in her experiences as they supplement her future research.

Not only has Esther proven to be an extremely intelligent and hardworking young woman, but she also has a service heart and plans to give back to her community in Rwanda. She received the Alexander A. Smick Scholarship in Rural Community Service and Development this year and was awarded $2,000. The purpose of this scholarship is to promote student engagement with an applied course of study in the field of rural community service and development.

With these funds, Esther will buy better seed potatoes (Red Pontiac) for a farmers’ cooperative in Rwanda. Currently, the farmers cannot afford Red Pontiac potatoes which grow well in the region. Her goal is to make an impact on the traditional farming practices in Rwanda by jump starting their success with valuable resources.

Esther is following her dream of helping Africa becoming more food secure by dedicating this scholarship to Rwandan farmers. CAHNRS is proud to have students like Esther pursuing their dreams while giving back. CAHNRS seeks to support all its students in following their passions and awards like the Alexander A. Smick Scholarship make that possible.