SOOTW: Hawkeye Water to Thrive

 What is the name of your organization? Do you go by any nicknames or abbreviations? 

Our organization’s name is Hawkeye Water to Thrive, and we occasionally abbreviate that to just Water to Thrive, or Hawkeye W2T.  


What is the purpose/mission of your organization?  

The purpose of Hawkeye Water to Thrive is to raise awareness about the Global Water Crisis and how it impacts communities worldwide, as well as to raise money to fund the construction of water wells in these communities. Our organization focuses on regions suffering from economic water scarcity, meaning that clean water is nearby – typically deep underground – but the communities lack the infrastructure or institutional support to access it. To combat this issue, we raise money to drill wells to the underground water source in communities throughout Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Sierra Leone.  


What days/times does your organization typically meet? Do you have any upcoming/recurring events you would like to be made known? 

We meet every Wednesday at 7pm in PBB W181. All are welcome! Each semester we have several fundraising events at restaurants, as well as an athletic tournament. This year that tournament will be sand volleyball! You can keep an eye on our Facebook page (Hawkeye Water to Thrive) for more information about when that will be and how to sign up.  


Why did you personally get involved with this organization? What makes you passionate about this organization?  

Why did you personally get involved with this organization? 

Water to Thrive involves two issues that I am very passionate about: the global water crisis and social inequality.  I am majoring in environmental science (hydroscience) and getting a certificate in sustainability because growing up in a river city like St. Louis, I was exposed to the importance of healthy water systems and environmental conservation.  Although the science first sparked my interests, the social problems I later learned accompany water quality and scarcity became a big part of why I remained so interested.  Having the opportunity to help raise awareness about this widespread issue and potentially make an impact on the individuals affected by this every day is very rewarding.  It is a cause worthy of more attention than it gets—that is the main reason I got involved. 

— Riley Kniptash, Events Coordinator 


I personally got involved with Hawkeye Water to Thrive because it breaks my heart that less developed countries and communities do not have access to basic human rights such as water. I saw this tragedy firsthand in 2015 while I was on a mission trip in Nicaragua. After being exposed to poverty and inequality, I realized I wanted to devote my life to helping others in any way I could. When Hawkeye Water to Thrive was brought to campus my freshman year it felt like fate. I quickly became passionate the more I learned. I discovered that about 800,000,000 people around the world do not have access to safe and clean drinking water. I want to spread awareness about how devastating the global water crisis because when people do not have water, there is a sad rippling effect. Health, jobs, and education are all affected negatively. As an elementary education major, I believe everyone deserves the right to an education because it is the most powerful tool in making a difference. This student organization has given me the tools, leadership skills, and voice to stand up for others across the world.  

— Sam Ellis, Vice President 


When I traveled to Uganda three years ago, I experienced first-hand the effects of the global water crisis. Not only did I see the challenges to health and society that a lack of access to clean water produces, but I also witnessed the transformation that occurs in the daily lives of individuals when their community finally secures access to safe drinking water. I can still hear the songs and laughter that surrounded me in that moment, as a community gathered together to celebrate the first pump of water from their brand new well. That day I realized for the first time that something as vital to life as water is a commodity I take for granted every day, while for an eighteen-year-old girl on the other side of the world, it is the reason why she lost her younger brother to cholera. It is the reason she misses hours of class every week, requiring her to repeat two grades in school. And this girl is not alone; 800 million people on our planet are impacted by this crisis. What is even more striking is that this problem, unlike so many that people in our world face, has a relatively straightforward solution. By working together in effective and transparent ways, we can create sustainable improvements in communities around the world. Through Hawkeye Water to Thrive, we can help make sure that every day one less life is taken by water scarcity, and that every day one more person has a chance at life. This is why I became involved with Hawkeye Water to Thrive because, with one little well at a time, we can make a difference. 

— Alexandra Hernandez-Pardo, Co-President 


“What makes you passionate about this organization? “

I am passionate about Water to Thrive because water is a requirement of life, but is not equally accessible to everyone in the world.  Some struggle with contamination, some with access, and some with both.  The people Water to Thrive serves live in parts of Africa where they have to walk many miles to get to a source of water, many of which are not even safe for consumption.  This means that members of the family, usually women and children, must spend hours every day carrying dirty water to their homes.  The water can make people sick, the journey is often dangerous, and the time commitment forces children (girls mostly) to drop out of school at a young age, all of which compounds to cause larger social issues.  The worst part is that there is clean water underneath many of these villages but the infrastructure of these countries is unable to support the construction of so many wells; that is where we come in.  If I am able to make an impact in the lives of these people either directly through the building of a well or through the education of others, then I will do everything in my power to do so.

— Riley Kniptash, Events Coordinator 


What social media does your organization utilize?

Our organization has an active Facebook page: (

Instagram: (hawkeyewatertothrive).

We also have a weekly email list, which you can request to join by emailing us at 


If a student is interested in joining this organization, how should they go about it/who should they contact? 

Everyone is welcome to join Hawkeye W2T at any time throughout the school year. You can join simply by coming to our next Wednesday-night meeting, or by emailing us at for more information. 


Is there anything else you would like to share? 

While we spend a lot of our time on planning events to raise awareness and funds, we also focus on professional development and further exploration of water-related issues. Some of the events we plan to do this semester along these lines feature a workshop on how to make a pitch and ask for donations, as well as a handful of speakers on subjects like “expressing scientific information creatively” or past travel experiences in the regions where we fund wells. We are always open to members practicing public speaking by presenting to the group on a relevant topic of their choice, or building their leadership skills by heading up one of our events or projects. We want to make sure that our organization is positively impacting our chosen mission abroad, but also building our members’ skills and strengths.  


PC: All images from HW2T Facebook page

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