JoJo Tran

JoJo Tran

Tell us about your background and what brought you to UW?

I graduated from Seattle Central College in 2020 and have been at UW since 2021. I’ve volunteered with the Seattle P-Patch Community Garden Program for many years helping to improve food access for my local community.   I felt strongly that attending UW to further my education would help me further these volunteer efforts which I believe makes our city, state, country, and the world better, more just, and equitable.

What drew you to the Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health Major?

At Seattle Central, I loved nutrition, anatomy, wellness, and fitness classes and developed a deeper understanding of how applying all of these can help us to be healthy.  When I learned about the Food Systems Major at UW, I met with faculty and staff to learn more.  As I shared my experience and beliefs — that nutritious foods play a key role in making people healthy and happy — I felt encouraged to pursue the Major. 

Tell us more about your volunteer work

I am a member of Grow Northwest and serve on their board of trustees. This organization is dedicated to creating inclusive neighborhood gardening communities.  I also volunteer for several organizations in the U District and downtown Seattle which are focused on services for the homeless community and educating residents about the importance of food waste, composting and gardening.

I volunteer with Seattle Tilth Alliance where I help staff the garden hotline and help educate about recycling, composting, food waste, and gardening.  I also volunteer with P-Patch gardens through the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Community Gardens, ROOTS Friday Feast which is provided by ROOTS Young Adult Shelter, the University District Food Bank, YouthCare’s Orion Center, and the Senior Center at Pike Place Market.

As a volunteer, I have served in many roles including helping grow foods for the food bank, picked up food, prepared foods, served meals, and helped educate city residents about food waste and composting.

Through all of these experiences, I have learned how just giving my time and playing a small part within a team can lead to helping so many and delivering valuable services.

How has studying Food Systems at UW impacted your student experience?

The knowledge that I gained in the Program has deepened how I see and experience things.  I owe a special thanks and gratitude to professors Adam Drewnowski, Yona Sipos, and Marie Spiker whose teachings had a big influence in my academics and experiences at UW. I can now see the importance of healthy food systems from a new perspective and how everything connects. I always encourage anyone to get involved with community gardens wherever they live.

What do you like to do for fun outside of class?

I like to walk around Washington Park Arboretum, Lake Washington, Lake Union, Gas Works Park, Volunteer Park, Discovery Park, Kerry Park. I will sometimes go hiking and camping at Olympic National Park, Sequim, Port Townsend, Port Angeles.  I enjoy walking my dog, taking photos of nature, pencil drawing, playing violin, guitar lessons, and learning new languages. I also enjoy good coffee and tea, salad, and American breakfast and lunch foods.

What advice would you give prospective students considering a major in Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health?

When you begin the Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health Major, you will quickly recognize its benefits. For me, I have learned new ways of thinking and seeing.  For example, food is medicine but medicine is not food.  Today we are bombarded with fake news and much misleading information about food and nutrition which is damaging if we are not critical thinkers and see beyond the advertising.