Anderson, Indiana

Junior biology student gains medical experience in Africa

Thu, 2013-01-17 09:13 -- univcomm
January 17, 2013

Anderson University encourages students to pursue service learning opportunities in their fields. The students in the biology department are no exception. Junior biology major Ashley Karr put her experience to use last summer in Africa, where she worked with The Luke Commission (TLC).

TLC provides free health care while sharing the gospel of Jesus with isolated populations. The organization specializes in HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. “In working with TLC, I did a lot of testing for HIV, blood draws, and running of blood work,” said Karr.

Karr, along with other volunteers, helped more than 500 patients a day. Of these, at least 20 were surgical patients. Karr participated in surgeries as the assistant to the surgical doctor, a task to which most college undergraduates are not exposed.

[Photo: Junior Ashley Karr spent the summer in Africa on a medical trip, where she helped perform surgeries and aided doctors.]

While performing surgeries in Africa, Karr gained tough discipline from the doctors there. “I was able to perform tasks ranging from tumor removals to mending lesions and bones,” said Karr. “I received tough love when it came to the mistakes that I made while working in Africa.”

Karr not only learned about the medical needs of the African people, but she gained insight into the way many Africans view America. “They think that everyone is so happy here in America, with our cars, houses, and families,” said Karr. “One patient asked me why I would want to work for free, helping others in another country, when I can have so many material things.”

While answering his question, Karr ministered to him about God’s will being more important than material things. “If God’s will for me is to go to Africa and do missions work, than I must obey, and that is what matters,” said Karr.

Dr. Michael Bailey, Karr’s advisor and an assistant professor of biology, endorses her great work ethic. “Not only has Ashley done well in the prerequisite coursework,” said Bailey, “but she volunteered at the Madison County health clinic, which also provided her valuable clinical experience.”

Karr was well prepared by serving at AU and in the Anderson community before she traveled to Africa. “Ashley is very active in the biology department, working as a lab assistant in several classes,” said Bailey. Karr also teaches science to home-schooled children and is a member of the pre-professional health club.

After graduation, Karr plans to attend the University of Kentucky to pursue her master’s degree. Her goal is to be a doctor or a physician’s assistant so that she can serve in medical missions in various countries. Karr encourages students interested in biology to not buy into the "American dream."

“Most people who come into the medical field do it for the money, but figure out what you are called to do and do it,” said Karr.

— Kelli Webster is a senior from Indianapolis, Ind., majoring in communication arts. Webster is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.