Having the opportunity to travel to Kenya in the summer of 2016 was a formative experience in my life. During my time in Kenya I spent three weeks at Joytown School and interacted with many of the students at both the primary and secondary schools. The students were driven and ridiculously talented. The passion with which they discussed their dreams was inspiring. Their thirst for knowledge was truly amazing. I remember spending time with the students before their teacher arrived to their classroom and answering questions about our presidential election, our food, and our educational system. Their joy was infectious, their laughter was contagious, and their love for each other was sacrificial. It was a beautiful example of the love that God has for each of us.
I was also blessed to spend a week at Kijabe Hospital shadowing a team of orthopedic surgeons. I spent time in the operating room witnessing hip-replacements, fracture reductions, and procedures to straighten bent limbs. The operations that the surgeons performed and the passion with which they cared for their patients was second-to-none. The interactions that I had with the surgeons was a foundational experience and one that I will remember for the rest of my life.
Working with the Wheels project was a formational and essential experience within my undergraduate education. Not only did I learn immensely about working and communicating cross-culturally, but I gained many generally-applicable life skills including leadership, teamwork, and time-management. Working with the Wheels project while concurrently taking a heavy load of engineering courses was difficult but very beneficial in gaining personal strategies for time management and time efficiency. I also learned much about how to "get things done" in general. A high level of responsibilty and expectation was given to each student, along with the correct resources and contacts, to be able to figure out how to get tasks done. This contributed directly to my acceptance into my current graduate school program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
I am a Business major. My experience doing research supported by the Keck grant with the Wheels team was positive. It was very motivating to work together as a team. Furthermore, performing research in an international setting was great experience and very helpful to my personal development. Wheels prepared me by giving me research experience, teamwork skills, data management expertise, and intercultural experience. I am very grateful that I could participate in the Wheels team through the assistance of friends, family, and organizations that supported and funded my team and me.
It was truly a privilege to be part of the Wheels undergraduate research team during my years at LeTourneau. I learned the importance of knowing how to give to the people in need. It is not just important to help but to help wisely so the receivers can make the best out of it. The research Wheels is doing is extremely important in the process of giving feedback to the manufacturers about issues in the wheelchairs. Also, the creation of the questionnaires can provide a patient reported outcome measure that addresses the condition of the assistive device from the user's persepective. The chance to do this research was a milestone in my career and helped shift my vision to help provide quality medical devices to the less resource areas.
Wheels taught me how precious it is to use my resources and talents to benefit others. My passion for people with disabilities is because of the children I met while performing field research at JoyTown School for the Disabled in Kenya. Wheels was foundational in creating my perspective on serving others and allowed me to pour my passions into bringing better wheelchairs and prosthetics to disabled children.