My Story

Enjoying the view of the Nairobi skyline at the end of my DukeEngage trip

Background

I grew up in the multicultural, quiet suburb of Irvine in Southern California. Raised by an artist mom and software engineer dad, I often see myself as a puzzling combination of creative and analytical tendencies that have continuously shaped my life. From a young age, I aspired to become a pediatrician, only to later discover a fascination – or obsession – with the incredibly complex, intricate, and invisible mechanisms behind life. In high school, I would spend hours under my microscope observing microorganisms lurking in backyard water, or crafting animated YouTube videos on biology topics. Determined to translate this love for biology into innovations that help patients, I was initially attracted to Duke’s renowned biomedical engineering program. After visiting campus for the first time, I felt overwhelmed by the mélange of opportunities available, welcoming greetings of Duke students, and lush green surroundings – enough to convince me that this is where I wanted to learn, explore, and grow.

Academic Journey

During my first year at Duke, I started struggling to see how the abstract engineering concepts I was learning applied to the impactful innovations I dreamt of, eventually realizing that I was excited mostly about the biology side of biomedical engineering. Simultaneously, I became interested in global health after learning about WISER, an empowering, holistic girls school in rural Kenya that provides girls the support to excel. Motivated to learn more about the complex health determinants that affect women, I also started conducting research at the Duke Global Women’s Health Technologies Center, the lab that invented the Pocket Colposcope: a low-cost, accessible cervical cancer screening device for low-resource settings. Through DukeEngage, I then spent a life-changing summer at WISER teaching at primary schools, guiding girls in the Engineering Club, organizing records in the local clinic, and supporting community leaders on a youth awareness program. As I watched the installation of solar panels on roofs and learned about the transition to electronic health records in the clinic, I became inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of the community and most of all, the amazing people I met. This period of exploration has led me to where I am now – pursuing a biology major, global health minor, and Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) Certificate.

Innovation & Entrepreneurship

I became introduced to I&E through Design for America (DFA), an interdisciplinary organization that uses human-centered design to solve problems. As I worked in DFA teams to tackle problems ranging from the opioid crisis in Durham to mental health at Duke, I discovered the power of combining creativity with empathy to create social impact. I have spent the most of my sophomore year diving into social entrepreneurship through the Hult Prize, a global social entrepreneurship competition whose annual challenge is tackling youth unemployment. My team, four Duke women passionate about empowering other women, developed and pitched Joblette: a platform that combines micro-learning and micro-jobbing to create meaningful data jobs for South African women. Through the process of researching, seeking feedback, and presenting a startup idea, I’ve become intrigued by the social enterprise model and drawn to the fast-paced, interdisciplinary nature of startups. Although I am still exploring career paths, I believe that I&E provides me the technical tools, close-knit network, and soft skills to navigate a career in health innovation.

Arts, Music, and Other Interests

Outside of academic and entrepreneurial pursuits, I love art in all forms – although I’m most experienced in graphic design, I enjoy dabbling in calligraphy, painting, drawing, and even embroidery. I am also a long-time pianist, but a spontaneous decision to audition for an acapella group sparked a love for singing! I am now dedicating myself to this pursuit by taking voice lessons and embarrassing myself at karaoke.

Looking Forward

As an innovator, designer, and aspiring entrepreneur, I ultimately hope to harness my interdisciplinary background to design and implement innovations that can improve access and quality of healthcare for patients, worldwide.