Each month, END7 honors one student who has made a significant contribution to our growing movement of student advocates dedicated to seeing the end of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). We are very proud to introduce our February Student of the Month, Grace Gannon, who has distinguished herself as one of our most passionate and talented student leaders as an inaugural member of the END7 Student Advisory Board. Grace, a junior at the University of Texas-Austin studying public health, shares:
“The past seven months have by far been the best months of my life—oddly enough, due to a group of seven deadly diseases. I first heard about neglected tropical diseases from the book Forgotten People, Forgotten Diseases. I read the book over the summer and was fascinated with NTDs and their crippling effects in developing regions. I then had the privilege of meeting with the author, Dr. Peter Hotez of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, to ask what I as a student could do to make a difference for people suffering from NTDs. Dr. Hotez encouraged me that advocating for NTD treatment did not have to wait until I graduated from medical school, equipped with the necessary tools to treat infected persons. He convinced me that by involving the UT community, with a student body of over 50,000 and one of the most extensive and organized alumni networks in the country, I could begin to make a difference right away. Immediately I accepted the challenge, and what an incredible journey it has been.”
Grace founded END7 at UT in August of 2013 to involve her community in her new-found passion. She has formed a vibrant group of student advocates at UT in just a few months. “Through END7 at UT,” she continues, “I am able to put my passion for fighting NTDs into direct action. END7 at UT is reaching out to the UT and greater Austin communities to educate people about NTDs. Our goal is to enlighten the public to the widespread suffering that is silently prevailing across the developing world. We believe in health as a human right and want to educate and raise funds to support successful public health interventions such as rapid impact packages of NTD drugs.
So far, END7 at UT has hosted two successful fundraisers on campus and has raised over $1,000 through our online fundraising page. Moving forward, we plan to host several awareness events, educating students to be effective advocates for NTD treatment programs. Overall, having the opportunity to work with END7 has been an incredible honor, and I cannot wait to see what END7 at UT will be able to accomplish.”
We are so grateful for Grace’s continued commitment to END7 and are excited to see our community of student supporters like her grow. If you are ready to get your school involved in END7’s work, contact student coordinator Emily on Facebook or at Emily.Conron@sabin.org to learn how you can get started!