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Assistant Professor Kiana Aran Helps Build School in Senegal

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Whether through PharmCAMP, homeless hygiene kits, health clinics, or blood drives, it’s clear that community outreach is an important part of the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) student experience. Giving back is also a labor of love for KGI faculty and staff.

Kiana Aran, a KGI assistant professor of medical diagnostics and therapeutics, spent one week in Senegal from Oct. 29 through Nov. 5, participating in a buildOn project to work side by side with villagers to build a school and bring hope through education.

Aran was first introduced to buildOn through one of her college friends who runs marathons to raise money to build schools. Through her time in Senegal, Aran became inspired by buildOn’s mission. She aims to share the community service spirit at KGI outside of her faculty responsibilities.

“I am hoping to start a club with faculty and students here at KGI,” Aran says, “where together we create a series of science educational events to raise funds to build primary schools in resource-poor places around the world.”

Aran joined five strangers in digging, shoveling, and making bricks to construct the new school. Once the trip reached its end, the group had formed friendships that will extend far into the future.

“Community outreach gives a meaningful perspective to our personal and professional aspirations,” Aran says. “I learned so much more about myself and the community. The trip helped confirm my belief that as educators, we can empower communities to fight poverty and exploitation at their roots.”

Aran joined KGI in January 2017. Just two months later, her study on an oral vaccination device was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. Just like our students, KGI faculty members extend their impact beyond the walls of campus.