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HSI Students Raise Money for Hurricane Victims

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A group of students in the Health Science Intensive program have banded together to come up with ways to raise money for victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Several of the students involved have direct bonds with the Houston area.

“It helps me give back to my old community and keep those connections,” said Naren Mehta, 22. “What we’re doing is helping someone whose life has been forever changed by this catastrophe.”

Mehta grew up in Houston and still has family and friends in the city. As soon has he heard there was flood water an inch from his grandmother’s doorstep, he booked a flight to Houston to help. When he returned to classes Johns Hopkins University, he was grateful to have an opportunity to participate in hurricane relief initiatives.

The fundraising effort is spearheaded by an informal student group called JHU CHANGE. The students involved are in the post-baccalaureate Health Science Intensive Program – or HSI, which is part of the Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts & Sciences Advanced Academic Programs. All HSI courses are held on the JHU Montgomery County Campus. The idea behind the program is to give students the opportunity to enroll in rigorous courses in the life sciences to prove their aptitude to study medicine. The hope is that after completing HSI, students will be more attractive medical school candidates. All HSI graduates earn the Master of Science in Biotechnology degree; many are accepted to medical school.

HSI professors and advisers encourage students to serve the community.

Jake Krygowski, 24, is a New Jersey native who spent last year working as a medical scribe in a Houston-area hospital. “I got a great experience living in Houston,” Krygowski said. “I wanted to do something for the community. I can’t sit around and watch Houston get crushed by a hurricane and not do anything about it.”

He contacted a major shoe company and asked for free shoe boxes. He received 30, and set up many of the boxes at local businesses for monetary donations. HSI students worked together to decorate the boxes with images associated with the city, such as skylines, sports teams and NASA.

Philip Whalen, 23, originally from Austin, contacted local business about conducting spirit events: fundraising time slots where a portion of a business’s proceeds are directed toward a charitable organization. He worked with Krispy Kreme to hold an event where 15 percent of proceeds were directed toward the J.J. Watt Foundation. The J.J. Watt Foundation has raised more than $37 million for Harvey relief, according to its website; Watt plays for the NFL team Houston Texans.

The HSI students raised more than $200. They realize they have a significant learning curve regarding how to go about raising money, but they are not deterred.

“Even though we’re not raising a lot of money, we’re keeping the conversation going of the importance of the community being involved,” Whalen said.

The students said they soon plan to organize a relief effort for victims of other hurricanes.


CATEGORY: Academics, In The Community