Thirsty Planet

Theoren Loo ’16 would like a drink of good, clean water — not for himself, but for the residents of KuManzimdaka, a village in rural South Africa.

As an undergraduate, Loo took a course through the UW’s Global Health Institute called Health Impact Assessment of Global Environmental Change. In it, he learned that about four in every 10 South Africans is poor and lives in a rural community, where they have little access to safe, clean water. Many South Africans — and indeed people in poor communities around the globe — are at constant risk from waterborne diseases.

Theoren Loo ’16 would like a drink of good, clean water — not for himself, but for the residents of KuManzimdaka, a village in rural South Africa.

That class at UW–Madison inspired Loo to develop a personal mission: to find a solution to the issue of access to clean water. The Morgridge Center for Public Service gave him a Wisconsin Idea Fellowship to study water in South Africa, and he returned to KuManzimdaka to perform quality tests, map the local terrain, and conduct interviews with local residents.

Loo’s passion and mission didn’t end when he earned his UW–Madison bachelor’s degree. He’s now in graduate school at the University of California, where he hopes to continue his work on water.

Loo is just one of eight undergrads who received Wisconsin Idea Fellowships from the Morgridge Center last year. They’ve all used them to live the Wisconsin Idea and share the benefits of the university around the globe. And that’s moving us all forward.