Student Stories: Globetrotter -- Biological Engineering major travels to do good

After visiting Europe, Central America and Africa, senior Kelsey Czyzyk has no plans to stop traveling.

Last summer she went to Sierra Leone with Penn State's Humanitarian Engineering Social Entrepreneurship program. The previous year, Czyzyk spent a semester in Dublin, Ireland, where she took classes related to her biological engineering major in the College of Agricultural Sciences while she experienced Irish and European culture.

Her second trip abroad was as a sustainable-development intern for Global Brigades in Panama. She led projects focused on improving future environmental brigades programming and shared with the communities about sustainable farming and environmentally friendly practices.

"In Ireland, I just wanted to gain some experience abroad," she said. "It was really interesting to see what it's like to be abroad in a European context where it's still developed versus Panama and Sierra Leone."

Currently in her second semester of the Humanitarian Engineering Social Entrepreneurship program, Czyzyk has focused on a research project to provide affordable greenhouses. The greenhouses already have been made available in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Cameroon, so she is helping expand the initiative into Sierra Leone. That country has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world.

"We are looking at it from another perspective," she explained. "Usually we talk about small-scale subsistence farmers and how to help them, but now we are looking at it from more of a nutrition standpoint because the country has a huge problem not being able to provide mothers and newborns with the right nutrition."

Czyzyk hopes that establishing greenhouses will increase the amount of fresh vegetables and nutritious food in Sierra Leone.

"Our ventures should not only be sustainable but also scalable," she said. "We can make a small sustainable venture that helps one community, but ultimately, the goal is to help as many people as possible."

Learn more about the biological engineering major.

Last Updated October 09, 2014