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Academic Convocation to stream online Friday

August 23, 2012
Public Health major Jeff Lamble researched city landfills in Guatemala.

Public Health major Jeff Lamble researched city landfills in Guatemala.

Students who are new to NIU have a date Friday morning inside the NIU Convocation Center.

Beginning at 11 a.m., Academic Convocation is a formal ceremony where NIU President John G. Peters and members of the faculty and staff officially welcome and celebrate incoming students.

Those in attendance learn about the many academic opportunities and campus traditions of NIU, including the university pledge, a pinning ceremony and renditions of the Alma Mater and the Huskie Fight Song.

But the annual ceremony offers much more than that, including students speaker Jeffrey Lamble, whose research will appeal to everyone on campus and in the community.

For those who cannot attend, NIU Media Services will livestream the ceremony.


Lamble, who’s majoring in public health, explored the lives of open landfill scavengers in Central America last summer. An estimated 4,000 “waste pickers” in Guatemala City turn small profits by rifling through the 40 acres of trash for reusable items that they can pocket and sometimes sell. This includes food.

Unfortunately, their labors expose them to environmental health hazards with adverse effects. Emissions of carbon dioxide and methane gases harm their lungs. Landslides bury them. Garbage trucks run over them.

Neighbors within close proximity of the landfill who aren’t actively digging through the its waste – a number near 26,000 – are vulnerable to the air pollution and the high concentrations of lead and other poisons that seep into the municipal water system.

He first glimpsed this world in 2010.

“I was given the opportunity to travel down to Guatemala on a mission trip with Lutheran Campus Ministry, now Grace Place Campus Ministry. On our first day we went to the landfill where I learned about the population that works and lives off of the landfill,” Lamble says.

“After the trip, I came back and changed my major while deciding to research this area,” he says. “I wanted to create more awareness about the situation as well as come to a greater understanding of health risks.”

Lamble, a public health major within the College of Health and Human Sciences, obtained a $2,500 grant through NIU’s Undergraduate Special Opportunities in Artistry and Research (USOAR) program to fund his return.

Scheduled to graduate this December, he plans then to seek another internship, possibly the Peace Corps, while applying to master’s programs involving international work.

For more information on Academic Convocation 2012, call (815) 753-1513 or email [email protected].