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Undergraduate Student

Mohamed Mwinyi

Senior, Geography

On my first day of third grade in my home country of Tanzania, our geography teacher took us outside and showed us the school environment while she explained things in geographical terms. She told us to pay attention to buildings, gardens, roads, and big trees in the schoolyard and later told us to draw a map showing the school’s features. Afterwards, she told us, “What you just did is one of the things geographers do.” Before she finished her remarks, I had already fallen in love with geography.

Throughout primary and secondary school, I was always good in geography and loved it even though I have changed my mind to do something else many times as I’ve grow up. I think that as of now, all things narrow down to my initial interest in geography.

I first heard of Virginia Tech as a result of the news coverage following the tragedy in 2007. I decided that if I got the opportunity to study abroad, I wanted to go to Virginia Tech. I first attended New River Community College, earning an associate’s degree in information systems, and then transferred to Virginia Tech. Now I am a junior geography major focusing on geographic information systems. I would like to return to Tanzania to help my country and other African countries use the continent’s abundant natural resources to strengthen economic conditions and the lives of those who live there. I would also like to teach so that I can have more opportunities, contribute a different perspective, and help promising students.

I started a project to help people in my hometown build a public library. Through Professor Scott Geller and his wife, Joanne, I became involved in Actively Caring for People. I talked to one of Professor Geller’s classes, enlisted volunteers, and collected almost 8,000 donated books on all subjects. Now while fundraising and gaining support through various community and university groups, I am working on an independent study of spatial analysis for the library building. It will be for anyone who wants to expand their horizons.

I cannot believe that on my first day of geography class in third grade the task was to draw a school map manually. Today at Virginia Tech I am working on spatial analysis for my hometown, public library, digitally. I have come very far.

Honors and Awards

  • Aspire Award, 2013

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