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.
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."