Why not change the world? That’s the charge Rensselaer students are given and Ivy Muchuma is planning on doing just that! When she is not competing in multiple events in track and field, she is making plans to provide sustainable infrastructure developments for impoverished areas.

The Kenya native was driven to bettering her surroundings at a young age.

Ivy Muchuma

Ivy Muchuma

“I was born and raised in Kenya,” she said. “I grew up being exposed to the harsh realities of life. People spent a lot of energy on things they shouldn’t have to.” It was her first-hand experience of having to fetch water because of water rationing, doing homework by an oil-lamp light because of electricity rationing, and waiting hours in traffic jams because of inefficient road engineering that sparked Muchuma’s interest in building sustainable infrastructure developments for impoverished areas.

Such an infrastructure is a physical or organizational structure that allows for the propagation of a sustainable lifestyle, such as reducing the depletion of the Earth’s natural resources, minimizing individual and societal carbon footprints, and meeting needs while preserving those of the environment.

Muchuma credits her studies at Rensselaer for helping her discover creative and innovative methods of sustainable infrastructures that have been adapted and utilized in many places around the world.

Having recently traveled to the western part of Kenya, she has already decided on where she will purchase a few acres to pilot her sustainable infrastructure where there are already a couple being implemented. One such arrangement is a biogas digester in which manure, produced by the farmstead cows, is being utilized to extract methane gas for cooking purposes.

Living out her motto of “Love Thy Neighbor,” Ivy has decided that taking an interest in improving her neighbors’ environment is the right first step. Otherwise, she believes smart and bright children may end up not realizing their full potential simply because their basic needs are not being met.

As she has already demonstrated, she will do what she can to ensure that will not be the case.