HomeEducationAcaraMeet the 2019-2020 Graduate Changemaker Lab Participants

Meet the 2019-2020 Graduate Changemaker Lab Participants

Our Graduate Changemaker Lab focuses on providing coaching, funding, and networking opportunities necessary for developing equitable projects which tackle environmental and social issues. This year’s Graduate Changemakers are developing some innovative and exciting projects! Here’s what our inspiring 2019-2020 Changemakers are bringing to the table: 


Aimee Carlson

Masters – Development Practice | May 2021

I am developing curricula for youths and young adults in order to address gender-based violence. The curricula will be designed for a variety of audiences and will cover topics such as healthy relationships, recognizing abuse, positive masculinity, and consent. These curricula are intended to be the launching point for a larger NGO providing prevention and intervention services around gender-based violence. 

Why do you care about creating change? 

“Worldwide, one in three women will experience gender-based violence at some point in their life. Until recently, gender-based violence hasn’t been considered a development issue, which means that these populations are not receiving the services and attention that they need. I want to be part of changing that system because I have experienced and seen its impacts firsthand.” 

Alejandra Rodriguez Wheelock 

Masters – Integrated Behavioral Health | December 2020

My goal is to pilot an unemployment support group at the University of Minnesota, focusing on the challenges of being a minority while looking for a job in a predominantly Caucasian workforce. This will provide a much needed service to an underprivileged community, and could possibly become an internship opportunity for future mental health clinicians in a multicultural setting. 

Why do you care about creating change? 

“It is important that everyone has the ability to develop professionally and provide for both themselves and their family. As of September 2019, Minnesota’s unemployment rate ticked down to 3.3 percent. However, African Americans and other minorities in the Twin Cities Metro Area are up to three times more likely to be unemployed than their white counterparts. This unemployment disparity is one of the largest in the country.”

Hannah Jo King

PhD – Natural Resources Science and Management | May 2024

I am proposing the idea of building an Indigenous Food and Medicine Trail in order to move toward improved University-Tribal relationships and, specifically, a more equitable land management plan that incorporates Fond du Lac’s preference. The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is a tribe of Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) people whose reservation is in northeastern Minnesota, not far from the current-day city of Duluth. The University of Minnesota owns and manages a parcel of land within the reservation boundaries referred to as the Cloquet Forestry Center. Since 1909, this “experimental forest” has served numerous purposes, but limited attention has focused on Fond du Lac engagement. 

Why do you care about creating change?

”I am currently in my first year of PhD studies in the Natural Resources Science and Management program. My motivation for graduate study is largely driven by diversity and inclusion. I am specifically interested in studying alongside black, indigenous, or minority communities and utilizing community-driven research practices that will go towards empowering historically disenfranchised and under-resourced peoples. I believe that this project idea addresses both environmental justice goals in a tribal community and personal goals in my own culminating dissertation work.” 

Khady Hamid

Masters – Development Practice | December 2020

My project focuses on the Maldives, where I aim to pilot an action research project to co-create curriculum about the unique island ecosystem. This will be in partnership with teachers in order for this research to be incorporated into the formal education curriculum, doing this through learning activities that are experiential and place-based. When looking at the map of the Maldives, one sees 99 percent ocean and 1 percent land. Therefore, one would imagine that this is an island nation where people’s lives are guided and closely linked with the island’s unique ecosystem. However, I see that there is a gaping disconnect between people and their environments, and I hope to lessen this gap. 

Why do you care about creating change? 

“Creating change is important for me [because] that is essentially how we grow and create meaning. Personally, creating change through the process of addressing some of the most complex challenges that we face today is an opportunity to both validate and challenge my own worldview.” 

 Morrine Omolo

PhD – Food Science &

Masters – Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy | May 2021

My project’s objective is to help pilot a health awareness program, and to do so I will be working with a friend in Kenya. The project seeks to create greater health awareness among Kenyans, who are beginning to realize the negative effects of adopting a Western lifestyle without access to the same medical benefits. Our mission is based on the belief that consumer education is fundamental in addressing the rising rates of obesity, diabetes, and a wide range of mental health issues.

 Why do you care about creating change? 

“To be better, do better, or experience better—someone has to initiate change. I welcome that challenging opportunity!” 

Stuart Deets

PhD – Art History | May 2024

I am proposing an exhibition of emerging artists in Minneapolis, working at the intersection of arts and environmental justice. A fundamental problem in culture is the assumptions about the relationship between nature and humans, and we have come to understand these relationships through symbolic and emotional means. It is therefore important for artists to learn to intervene in these symbolic systems, which is where my project comes in.  

Why do you care about creating change? 

“I [care] about something because I believe that the solutions to the world’s problems are still being decided. We have a little bit of ability right now to make a better world if possible, if not for us, then for someone in the future.”

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