Honors biochemistry and biophysics alumna Trisha Chau (’18) found a way to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria which devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017. The hurricane killed thousands of people, destroyed homes and wiped out much of the island’s infrastructure including essential services such as water and electricity. Puerto Ricans continue to struggle for recovery and rehabilitation nearly a year later.
Chau was part of a team of 31 undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdoctoral scholars and faculty who embarked on a service learning trip to Puerto Rico during spring break in March. The group was eager to work on projects that would help rebuild the educational infrastructure and restore natural resources destroyed by the hurricane. They were also eager to gain a first-hand knowledge of the environmental and cultural conditions on the island. Half of the students, like Chau, were members of OSU MANRRS—an organization devoted to the academic, professional and social development of underrepresented students in fields of agriculture, natural resources and related sciences.
The students flew to San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, and made their way to San Sebastian in the northwest part of the island where they worked to repair the Segunda Unidad Bernaldo Mendez Jimenez school. The project was carried out in conjunction with Puerto Rico’s land grant university, University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez. Life@OSU writes that, “OSU representatives and Mayaguez officials have been working closely with school administrators to create a service learning plan that will benefit students there.”