Maria Nakalanda

Class of 2023-2024

Uganda Martyr's University Nkozi
Public Health and Health Promotion

Why did you choose ESTEEM?

I chose ESTEEM because of the program's STEM focus and commitment to nurturing thought leaders who are engaged in ongoing innovation perfectly complement my own mission and past experiences; making it the missing piece in my quest for using science to drive impactful social entrepreneurship. My conviction has always been that entrepreneurship holds the key to revolutionizing public health outcomes. This belief was put to the test as I collaborated with rural women in Africa to kickstart nature-based enterprises and later when I launched my own startup. My public health background gave me the 'why,' but it was lacking in the 'how'—the business acumen needed to translate passion into action. This is why ESTEEM, with its emphasis on 'doing' rather than merely 'studying' entrepreneurship, struck a chord with me.

What is your Capstone Project and why are you excited about it?

Marmon Water, part of Marmon Holdings, a Berkshire Hathaway Company, is comprised of eight autonomous entities which provide products, services, and technologies to meet a vast array of water treatment needs globally. The goal of the Marmon Water Sustainability capstone project is to develop a sustainability strategy and go-to-marketing strategy for a Marmon Water entity. This project will work with different stakeholders and industry experts to contribute to Marmon Water’s sustainability efforts, develop sustainability strategy, and enhance their market position by effectively communicating their commitment to sustainability, driving positive change for the people and the planet.

What do you hope to do after ESTEEM?

After completing the ESTEEM program, my roadmap gets clearer by the day. I want to leverage the interdisciplinary skills I've acquired with my existing background in Public Health in a role where I can pioneer sustainable product development opportunities and health-promoting initiatives. Whether with a forward-thinking company or a mission-driven NGO, my aim is to make an impact on both environmental conservation and global health. Parallel to this, I plan to scale my startup that champions eco-responsibility and community wellness through our specialized teas and juices. The ultimate vision is to expand this local endeavor into a global movement, fostering healthier, more sustainable communities worldwide.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, you're likely to find me cycling through South Bend's picturesque landscapes—a newfound passion that's only a month old, but feels like a lifetime love. The harmony of open roads and the tranquility of nature act as a soul-cleansing ritual for me. Yet, my love for food and hosting keeps me trying out new recipes. There's nothing quite like experimenting in the kitchen to craft delicious dishes, which I then share with friends over deep dining table conversations. However, my interests don't stop there. I have a boundless enthusiasm for travel and a deep-rooted commitment to community service. Every Thursday night, I channel these passions into volunteering with South Bend's rising entrepreneurial community, trading entrepreneurial insights and contributing to collective growth. I am drawn to adventure, service, and local impact, each thread contributing to a rich, fulfilling existence.


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