Gabe Rangel:

Leading from the Heart

In addition to his coursework and undergraduate research on Purdue's campus, Gabe Rangel is investing his time and talent to support a project a world away. In March 2012, the biochemistry major was invited to the Clinton Global Initiative Conference, where he and three other students presented their initiative to construct a community-run facility in Gondar, Ethiopia, that will provide a diagnostic clinic, a water filtration center and an educational model of food security.

Gabe Rangel

This effort, called Project Heart, is one that Rangel says offers practical solutions to issues for those living in Gondar, but it also can be a model for communities in other developing countries.

"In Malawi, I met a child with malaria," says Rangel, who was in the African nation through an undergraduate research experience. "He was quite sick, and doctors were worried about how to treat him, because he was so malnourished. If we can improve medical security by providing a vaccine for malaria, for instance, we can take away the worry about disease, so residents can concentrate on producing food and on other ways to improve their lives."

Rangel explains that he wants to focus his career on finding ways to better understand disease so that he can improve the lives of people in developing countries. That path likely includes a Ph.D. and possibly working with a humanitarian organization, he says.

But regardless of his career direction, Rangel believes Project Heart will be a long-time commitment. "If this project gets off the ground, I plan to stay involved with it throughout my career. It's a very tangible way to make an impact on a very important global issue."

By Cathy Lockman