Natasha Wedderburn ’14
Natasha Wedderburn ’14, has lived a life reminiscent of a mainstream novel—one of a woman’s struggle to succeed. She was born to a drug addicted mother who abandoned her in the hospital. She was raised by her grandmother; and overcame learning disabilities and speech impediments. But, “It was here at Coppin that professors spoke life into me and truly prepared me for the world outside of the comfort of this amazing HBCU,” she said.
As Natasha began to discover herself at Coppin, she shifted majors. “I started off as a nursing major. Then I switched to chemistry, and then I finally settled on a major in biology and minors in chemistry and philosophy.” Natasha currently teaches science to middle schoolers in the Baltimore County Public School System. “Teaching has been something that I always wanted to do. But because of my shyness it took me about two years to push myself to apply. Once I started, I realized this was what I really wanted to do. I never feel like I am going to work.”
Natasha is a hands-on, pragmatic instructor, who infuses familiar items into the learning experience. She dissects flowers, so her students can examine a complete flower. When they talk about characteristics of life, they compare gummy worms to live nightcrawlers. She added, “When we discuss Newton's Laws, we play tug of war and students get to design their own lab experiments. When we talk about heat and radiation, we pop popcorn and eat it. I make it my business to create shared experiences with my students, so they will always connect that back to the concepts that we did in class.”
Natasha continues her affiliation with Coppin. As part of her completion of the Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Leadership program at UMBC, she had to complete a capstone project. The nucleus of her study was based on urban agriculture. The program director, she boasted, thought her project was so well thought out he suggested she contact her professor and mentor Dr. Mintesinot Jiru, Chair of the Department of Natural Sciences, to explore funding opportunities. “The project tied both of our interests together and became the birth of The Coppin Mile Project. Our goal is to be change agents for West Baltimore in the areas of urban agriculture, sustainability and food waste.”
Additionally, Natasha and Dr. Jiru want to bring awareness to and craft solutions for Baltimore’s urban agricultural industry through education, community outreach, research and strategic partnerships. Natasha and Dr. Jiru received a $10,000 grant from the Natural Resources Defense Council to assist with their efforts to reduce food waste in West Baltimore by 50 percent by 2030.
Natasha wants all alumni to come back to Coppin. “I challenge my fellow alumni to join and maintain membership and be proactive in the association. This is how we make and protect our beloved Coppin State University.”
For more information about The Coppin Mile visit the website at https://coppinmileproject.wixsite.com/website >