Honors STEMists construct wheelchairs for clinic

January 21, 2021 / by / 0 Comment

Students from the Honors STEMists club built two wheelchairs for the Neighborhood Christian Clinic.

By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau

Students in Grand Canyon University’s Honors STEMists club recently gave IKEA aficionados a run for their money.

But instead of assembling complicated pieces of furniture, students dedicated their time to putting together two wheelchairs. Upon completion, the wheelchairs were donated to The Neighborhood Christian Clinic, and one was delivered promptly to a family in need.

“The Honors College leadership was very proud to see our Honors STEMists board and members execute on both their passions for engineering and service through this project,” Honors College Program Manager Cathleen Daly said. “The group took full initiative throughout the entire project, from procuring the materials to building the wheelchairs to then coordinating the delivery the wheelchairs to the clinic.”

Three sophomore Honors STEM students — Megan Victory, Noah Krepela and Abby Abraham — had prominent roles in bringing the ambitious service opportunity to fruition.

Students broke into two groups of five to build the wheelchairs.

“It was really awesome for our club to be a resource to help out the community around us,” Victory said. “It was just so cool to be able to say, ‘Hey, we have these resources. Let us connect as students and get to improve our skills while helping the community.’”

While performing that act of service, the group of roughly 10 students also got to learn about building medical equipment.

But as good of an idea as it was, it didn’t come out of the blue — one of the club’s board members had built a prosthetic arm in a previous project. When Honors College Associate Dean Dr. Breanna Naegeli suggested that club members work on a build to donate, the unique service opportunity was born.

“I think for most of us the biggest thing was just being able to help somebody in need,” Krepela said.

After donating the wheelchairs to the clinic, students got to meet the family of the first chair recipient, named Juan, and see firsthand the impact on their lives. The man’s wife, Genesis, and her parents collected the wheelchair.

Students had the opportunity to meet the wife (center, in pink) of one of the wheelchair recipients.

“She (Genesis) was so grateful, it was just an amazing moment,” Krepela said. “I think that part in itself was just super awesome to just be a part of.”

Abraham said of the experience, “It was just a very raw moment. They just kept saying, ‘You don’t understand how much this means to us. It’s been a blessing.’ Just to see that God was able to work through us in order to help them through this entire operation over six months, it showed us how amazing all of it was.”

The students, in turn, were grateful that GCU helped make the experience possible.

“I’m so thankful that the GCU Honors College partnered with us so we could do this,” Victory said.

This figures to just be the beginning for the Honors STEMists. Not only do they plan to participate in another wheelchair build in the future; they also hope to branch out into other medical devices that people need.

Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].


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