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Edward R. Murrow College of Communication

Joy Wanja Muraya

  1. Ph.D. Student
LocationMurrow Hall 235



Joy Wanja Muraya is a second-year Ph.D. student at Murrow College of Communication, Washington State University. Joy is a health and medicine journalist with over 16 years of industry experience in the newsroom inside Kenya’s most prominent media house, the Nation Media Group Limited, and Kenya’s oldest media house, The Standard Group Plc. Her research interests include health communication strategies for most-at-risk groups during health emergencies such as COVID-19 and polio.

Joy’s research aims are to promote behavior change communication and to tackle vaccine hesitancy by improving the development of targeted inclusive, and effective public health messages. This will improve the response to health emergencies, formulate more effective strategies for future health pandemics and diseases, and improve surveillance and response to re-emerging infectious disease outbreaks. Her research strives to ensure that health campaigns provide relevant, non-judgmental, clear, and consistent messaging on the health campaign. Further, it acknowledges the importance of reinforcement and rewarding individuals who present the desired health behavior.

Joy has also worked in the Health and Medicine editor for The Conversation Africa, as a Communications Specialist at UNICEF Kenya and The World Health Organization, and as a health researcher with the British Broadcasting Corporation in Nairobi.

During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, while working At UNICEF Kenya, Joy coordinated media advocacy, communication, and social mobilization to implement the COVID-19 vaccine introduction in Kenya. Joy developed evidence-based communication messages and materials to create awareness of COVID-19. She engaged key community stakeholders, influencers, and religious leaders to raise awareness of COVID-19 immunization services among key target groups and generated demand. Joy managed the media relations docket to analyze, identify, and mitigate risk within the context of UNICEF’s external communication. She advised UNICEF work streams on media trends, news developments, current events, social media engagements, or changing/unexpected. circumstances that may impact UNICEF work and help to determine strategic responses.

As a health journalist, she has a knack for excellent reporting, interviewing skills, and award-winning writing techniques, demonstrating that she greatly cares about people and facts.

Joy is a lover of languages and is fluent in six languages. She speaks English, Swahili, French, Japanese, Chinese, and her mother tongue, Kikuyu, and has skills in Kenyan Sign Language for the deaf. She is also a member of Rotary International.

Follow her academic and journalistic work at Wanja’s Health Diary.


  • B.Ed (Arts), English Linguistics & Literature in English, Kenyatta University (2008)
  • Master of Public Health, Moi University (2016)
  • Graduate Certificate in Health Promotion & Planning, Washington State University (2022)

Foreign Languages Certification

  • Certificate in Chinese Language & Culture, Kenyatta University (2014)
  • Hanban-Confucius Institute Headquarters, Chinese Language Proficiency Test (HSK 1) (2012)
  • Certificate in Japanese Language & Culture, Kenyatta University (2007)
  • Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT level 4), 2008
  • Certificate in Kenyan Sign Language, University of Nairobi (2009)

Classes Taught

  • COM 138 – Introduction to Communication
  • COM 210 – Multimedia Content Creation
  • COMJOUR 333 – Reporting Across Platforms
  • Backpack Journalism Program (led WSU Health Reporting trip to Kenya Spring 2023)

Research Interests

  • Health communication
  • Science communication
  • Social media and health
  • Sexual health
  • Health communication theory and campaigns
  • Health promotion

Conference Presentations

Muraya, J. W. (2018). The role of print media in setting the agenda for reproductive health reporting in Kenya: A case study of the Daily Nation newspaper. Paper presented at the annual conference of the International Association for Media and Communication Research, Eugene, OR, United States of America.

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