Biomed Students travel around the world in 'Service to Humanity Program'

Alexa Karkenny serving in Costa Rica

Alexa Karkenny is a senior at Drexel University. She is in the BS/MD program majoring in Biomedical Engineering

Alexa recently returned from a trip to La Estrella, a remote village in rural Costa Rica, where she volunteered alongside other young adults in an ongoing project to promote literacy and continuing education at an elementary school. They converted a school storage room into a library, furnishing the library with books in Spanish as well as English to supplement an English foreign language program supported by WorldTeach. A portion of the books were collected on campus through a book drive she organized with Circle K. We also taught English and painted a mural of the world map, among other smaller projects. While the entire community is incredibly supportive and enthusiastic about the library resources, the most gratifying outcome of this project had been the children's eagerness to continue on to secondary school, which has been rare in the past.

This is Alexa's second experience volunteering at this elementary school in La Estrella, and her fourth experience volunteering abroad. In the summers of 2006 and 2007, she participated in a project to build homes and a clinic in Miguel Aleman, Mexico. She plans to continue volunteering abroad with projects related to education and eventually medicine, possibly with an organization such as Doctors Without Borders. She is also involved with service in the Drexel and Philadelphia communities. Currently she is the Vice President of Service for the University's chapter of Circle K International, an international collegiate service organization. This role, involves her to coordinate and participate in service projects in and around the city. This fall she will also be serving as an Advisor in the Center for Civic Engagement's Lindy Scholars Program, mentoring and tutoring West Philadelphia middle school students weekly. In addition, she is a member of the Pennoni Honors College, Tau Beta Pi (the Engineering Honor Society), and Student Ambassadors.



Zain Mahmood - Summer Internship in Gambia

Zain Mahmood is a senior at Drexel University. He is in the BS/MS program majoring in Biomedical Engineering.

Zain Mahmood is currently in The Gambia, the smallest country in the African mainland. He has spent five weeks at the Sulayman Junkung General Hospital (SJGH), located in a village called Bwiam about two hours outside of the capital, Banjul. Like hospitals in many developing nations, acquired medical equipment is not used to its full potential, or not used at all, because appropriate trained personnel are not available, necessary consumables have not been provided, or replacement parts cannot be obtained. During his stay, his job was to make a thorough assessment of the medical equipment in the hospital and use all available resources to restore as much equipment as possible. He also conducted training sessions for the local staff; instructing them on how to handle, service and calibrate equipment. Before leaving he provided the staff with simplified user and service manuals which they could refer to and pass on in the future. He also assisted the education committee of the hospital by creating presentations for them to enhance the quality of lecture sessions. The Gambia is a small country with a large need for assistance, especially in the healthcare sector. Zain's experience here has been educational in many ways and he is deeply appreciative to the people of Bwiam for hosting him, and for their genuineness and generosity.

In Philadelphia, Zain volunteers with the 11th Street Health Center, run by the Drexel school of Nursing and Health Professions. This Summer he assisted in the planning and initiation of a campaign to reduce the consumption of high sugar content beverages among children and teenagers. Their work involved collaborating with parents, schools, neighborhood stores, and other community members to create awareness about the detrimental effects of excessive sugary beverage consumption. Sodas and other sugary beverages largely contribute to the onset of childhood obesity and type2 diabetes, which is a growing concern especially in low income neighborhoods.

At Drexel Zain works for the Residential Living Office as a Resident Assistant.

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