Essay By Claudia D.

My name is Claudia D. and I am currently a biomedical engineering student with a concentration in biomechanics and human performance and a minor in psychology at Drexel University. I chose to study Biomedical Engineering in high school with the hope of pursuing a career working in rehabilitation, specifically as part of an organization such as Engineers Without Boarders. Drexel University is a co-op school, which means that I would complete my undergraduate degree in five years with three, six month co-ops.  It was throughout these co-ops that I realized that I wanted to pursue a career in global development, but more specifically in rehabilitation in low-income countries. My first Co-Op was in Shanghai, China as a Pre-Medical School Intern where I observed and practiced patient care in the Neurointensive Care Unit, the Sports Rehabilitation Centre and Nursing Homes. For 6 months, I shadowed doctors in these various units at various hospitals in Shanghai as well as volunteered at the Shanghai Healing home which is a non-profit foster home that provides pre and post-surgical care to abandoned Chinese orphans with surgically correctable deformities. I prepared medicine and performed daily to monthly check ups to over 60 children with various disabilities and physical abnormalities. My second co-op was in Philadelphia, USA as a Neurosurgery Clinical Research Assistant where I participated in weekly case reviews discussing new and recurring brain tumour patients and their treatment plan by reviewing pathology and MRIs. I also shadowed multiple neurosurgeons at the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania and observed different brain tumour cases at various stages of their illness.


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I am a 2017 Dornsife Global Development Scholar, and with that, I spent my third co-op in Zambia, Africa teaching and training villagers about the impact of poor hygiene practices, and the dangers, treatment, and prevention of contaminated drinking water. After having lived in a low-income country, I noticed that the access to basic sanitation, which is a right guaranteed under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,  is not accessed by many people around the world. I witnessed firsthand that people with a lower body disability could not use the pit latrine independently due to their inability to squat and would have to crawl in order to use the bathroom.  It is for that reason, that I chose to create an assistive device for flat foot squat in low income countries as my senior design project. I was able to convince my 3 teammates to work on this 9 month project in order to increase the well-being of individuals with lower body disabilities.

My team currently has 4 advisors for the senior design project, two from the School of Biomedical Engineering, and two from the School of Public Health. We are currently a third of the way done and have faced challenges with regards to building a prototype. Although my team is trying to keep our device under 25$, there have been multiple iterations of our prototype which, on a college budget, is difficult. The Travel Visa Pro scholarship would help fund our senior design project and we aspire to bring a working prototype to Zambia once completed.

By Claudia D.

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