This week we will introduce you to two interns who are working with GASP this semester through the Academic Small Business Alliance at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dania Ashour and Nkereuwem (Life) Samuel Unwana are working to develop a scalable citizen-science educational program. Life’s project involves putting together a citizen science manual, assisting with public health research, and creating a presentation on the health effects of air pollution. Dania is working with volunteer engineers to build a replicable digital air monitor prototype which will be used to collect and share hyper-local air quality data.
You go by Life. Can you tell us about your name’s meaning?
My name is Nkereuwem Samuel Unwana. Nkereuwem means “life” and is an ancestral name every first born son must bear in order to keep the family name going. I go by Life because there has been no one except one person that has been able to pronounce my name. So in order to make it easier I ask people to call me Life.
What is your major at UAB and why did you choose it?
I am a final year undergraduate student in the UAB School of Public Health with a double concentration in Environmental Science and Global Health with a minor in International Business.
What do you hope to do after you graduate?
I graduate in April and I have applied to several schools in pursuit of furthering my studies. I intend to do an MPH/MBA program after which I will then apply to medical school.
What is your dream job?
My dream job is to become an oncologist.
What do you hope to learn during your internship with GASP?
During the course of my internship, I hope to learn how to effectively appeal to people when advocating for change in policy or behavior that is causing harm to the environment, the air quality. I also, want to learn the various ways to work effectively with several partners with a different mission but have the same goal. I also, want to learn how to source for partners that share the same vision with you. I will also love to learn how to get funding, run public campaigns in real life, and the process and challenges involved in it. I would also love to not leave the internship the way I came in.
Why is our mission to reduce air pollution important to you?
The mission to reduce air pollution is very important to me because in the course of my stay in the United States I have come across several children (and adults) that are suffering the detrimental effects of bad air quality, ranging from diseases such as asthma, cancer, bronchitis. I almost lost a very dear friend of mine to an asthma attack here in the city of Birmingham.
Also, I remember when I visited Ohio recently and the area had a very bad air quality. It made it so difficult for me to breathe that I was struggling for air. These various experiences and knowledge about the horrors of pollution have left me with no choice but to tighten my belt and buckle my shoes to try in any way possible to help in the fight against environmental pollution.
What is your favorite food?
Bitter leaf soup and whole wheat fufu
What are your hobbies?
My hobbies include: cooking, reading, poetry, dancing, volunteering, and football (soccer).
Who or what are your influences?
My greatest influence is my mother. Other influences: Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mahatma Gandhi, and Ben Carson.
What are some other fun facts about yourself?
I hope to one day become the youngest, most educated president in Africa. I love diversity and hope to travel the world volunteering, reading books, tasting wine, and learning new recipes when I retire.
Tomorrow we will meet Dania! Please join us in welcoming them both to the GASP team. We’d like to thank Nathan McMinn and Jon Self for volunteering their time and expertise to assist with constructing a custom air quality monitor, and Red Mountain Makers for agreeing to help along the way. Special thanks to the Brooke Foundation for making our participation in the UAB Academic Small Business Alliance possible. To support this work, become a member.
Michael joined GASP in 2013 as communications specialist. He has lived in Birmingham since 2008, and is an active member of the Birmingham community. He’s a passionate advocate for health equity, civil rights and equality. He is currently serving as executive director. Email Michael