Introducing Difference Maker Mentor: Leah Gichuru

Hello, my name is Leah Gichuru, and one of the Difference Maker Mentors for the year 2022-2023. I am currently studying molecular and cell biology, and minoring in Spanish at the University of Connecticut.

As a first-generation American student, I am the first in my family to be attending a four-year college and focus much of my free time mentoring other students who are also part of the underrepresented community. When I’m indoors, I like to spend my free time baking and cooking for my friends and family. All I need to do is watch an episode of Master Chef Junior, and a few other cooking competitions on Food Network, then I have all the motivation I need to get started.


I am a member of the diabetes network, travel model united nations, and leading women of tomorrow clubs on campus.


It was commonly asked how I came to be interested in being a Difference Maker Mentor, but I believe that my interest peaked very organically. Although this job doesn’t keep me in a lab, it is very immersive and allows me to mentor students and give them an opportunity that I was never provided while I was in high school. In my own experience, I didn’t realize the passion I had for biological sciences until I joined a program that provided me the opportunity to explore career choices in my interested area of study. Without it, I don’t know whether I would have chosen to still take the same route.


The environmental motto that I like to adhere to, is “leave the world a better place for the ones coming after us”.


I believe that we as humans were provided with certain resources to sustain ourselves and raise the next generation. So it is our obligation to do the same and cultivate a world we want to live in and preserve the resources that are limited. Wangari Maathai, a famous environmental and political activist once said, “It’s the little things citizens do. That’s what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees.” Truly we must all work to create sustainability.


NRCA’s Difference Maker Mentors (DMM) program are currently supported by a generous 5-year donation from the original private family foundation and from a grant (WAMS-2021-38503-34817) from the USDA Women & Minorities in STEM Fields.