Arif’s Story: Science Helps Humanity

I was born in Brooklyn, NY and then moved to Bangladesh for the first four years of my life. I came back to the United States not knowing English which I learned as I pursued my education here.

When I was a young kid, I always thought I would grow up and be a power ranger. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out. Instead my interests evolved and now include medicine and research. I didn’t always want to do medicine. It was through exposure that I had that gradually inspired me to do medicine. Also, I have always been really interested in technology. 

Throughout my life my mom and dad have always been huge sources of inspiration for me. My mom was originally a doctor in Bangladesh but when you come to the U.S., you couldn’t  practice medicine without a United States Medical License. So I watched my mom study and persevere for an additional six years, in order to become an attending physician at a U.S. hospital.  She studied and passed all the steps of the United States Medical Licensing Exam with top marks. Many immigrant physicians don’t get into their residences because they are international students. But my mom was able to get into her residency program at The Brooklyn Hospital Center.. In witnessing my mom’s dedication to the medical profession and her perseverance through all the difficulties that she overcame to become a physician, I asked her why she went through all of this and what motivated her. She explained to me, “We are very compassionate people. My job involves directly helping people.” That is when I knew I wanted to also dedicate my life to medicine. 

The summer after my junior year of high school, I knew college was on the horizon and that I needed to strengthen my college resume. I applied to as many science research internships as I could. I started hearing back and became discouraged when I didn’t get accepted to many of them. But then Hk Maker Lab got back to me and they were really interested. After getting accepted to Hk Maker Lab, it turned out to be an amazing summer. It actually changed the course of what I was interested in. Before the program, I was planning to focus on only medicine and had put my technology interest in the back of my mind. However, the Hk Maker Lab program got me really interested in the intersection between entrepreneurship, biotechnology and medicine. I was able to leverage all my interests within the Hk Maker Lab to pursue a biomedical engineering project. 

The program was absolutely incredible. In fact, so much so that I am so glad I got rejected by those other summer programs. With Hk Maker Lab, I learned about collaboration and the importance of fostering a sense of community. Through our teamwork we worked towards a common goal that could actually help humanity. This was a powerful experience for me. 

The purpose of the Hk Maker Lab program is to introduce young people to biomedical engineering and teach the basics of electronics and the business behind it as well. The program is structured so that each team works on a different project. In order to graduate from the program, teams had to create some sort of biomedical device that would help hospitals in Kampala, Uganda.

Our professor and mentor, Dr. Kyle, had connections with engineers in Uganda. So we would Skype with them, listen to their problems and try to solve these issues with biomedical devices. Many students chose to work on water filtration devices, mosquito netting and stuff like that. Our group decided to pursue a different project.  Our project and researched resolution was to develop solar-powered surgical lighting. Essentially it was a bunch of LEDs on a solar panel. We knew that this had been done before. There are plenty of low-cost lighting solutions, but what we wanted to do was to make the lighting system and then provide the plans to any university in the local area or in Uganda so that they could reproduce these lighting systems themselves. 

The Hk Maker Lab taught me about collaboration, the scientific method and persistence. If you have an idea, it is not going to work out right away. During Hk Maker Lab we consistently had to revise our idea. We’d all get together and try to figure out different ways to accomplish the task at hand. It taught me that science isn’t easy, but it’s worth pursuing because it can have a tremendous impact. The program also taught me the importance of surrounding yourself with people that have more experience than you, who can mentor and guide you. That’s what Dr. Aaron Kyle did for us. 

I am now about to enter my sophomore year at the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College. I’m still figuring out what to major in, but my two main interests are bio-chemistry and economics.  Currently I’m pre-med but I’m also doing science research at NYU School of Medicine’s Miller Lab. The laboratory is studying immune regulators of pancreatic cancer and liver disease. 

Science is difficult, but it’s very fun and rewarding. You might be discouraged at times when experiments or your prototypes are not working, but if you persist and are committed to the goals then you will eventually accomplish it. 

 As an alumni scholar of the Consortium, I think this is an amazing community with a diversity of science programs that collaborate with each other and also introduce us students to one another. I feel great to be a part of something like this. It means I am a part of mentoring and encouraging the scientists of tomorrow. As corny as that sounds, it is true.

© 2022 NYC Science Research Mentoring Consortium | All rights reserved
Designed by [L]earned Media.

© 2022 NYC Science Research Mentoring Consortium

All rights reserved

Designed by [L]earned Media.