Alumna’s Volunteer Experience Led Her to Georgia Tech and Beyond

Many students arrive at college with little certainty about what brought them there, or where they might wind up after they’ve completed their education. For Kelsey Rogowski, however, the journey to Georgia Tech seems as straightforward as can be.

Kelsey, a 2012 graduate who earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Georgia Tech prior to completing a master’s in public health at Emory University, now works as a research coordinator at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.

“Within my role, I am responsible for helping develop, coordinate and execute the various clinical trials that we offer our patients,” she says. “I am lucky enough to be able to interact with families who have a child undergoing a bone marrow transplant, and orient them to the various research studies that are available. Within our field, we rely heavily on the clinical trials and research that has previously been done in order to develop the most effective protocols for our patients, while aiming to minimize the adverse effects that come along with the process.”

While her educational background certainly prepared her well for her current work, Kelsey’s passion for helping others and reaching out to underserved communities was fostered during her childhood.

“When I was young, my father started a community baseball organization for children with special needs,” she says. “I would spend Saturday mornings running the bases with kids, most of whom were older than me, who just wanted to play baseball like other kids.”

Kelsey continued to volunteer for special needs organizations, and her interest in service was also encouraged through her participation in the Girl Scouts, but her current volunteer work was borne out of personal experience.

“As a teen, I attended Camp Kudzu, a camp for children with type 1 diabetes,” she says. “As I became more and more involved, I saw my friends take two different paths in their diabetes management. Some excelled and thrived under the pressure of being a young adult in college and juggling diabetes, life and more. Others fell through the cracks in the system—their diabetes suffered because of lack of support, education and resources available for young adults with type 1 diabetes.”

She says that her experience at Camp Kudzu was ultimately what led her to pursue her career in public health, and specifically to work with young people. Kelsey has also volunteered at Camp Kudzu for eight years.

“Having experienced the benefits of a strong community of friends and supporters affected by type 1 diabetes, I enjoy having the opportunity to give back,” she says. “I volunteer with weekend programs for kids and teens, babysit kids with type 1 diabetes and serve as a mentor and counselor for teens who are going off to college and learning to be counselors.”

Kelsey also volunteers with Camp Sunshine, an organization that serves children and families affected by cancer. Camp Sunshine offers year-round programming, and Kelsey says that she sees the importance of a strong community and support system for cancer patients, which further enhances the work she’s able to do at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Given the size and scope of the healthcare field, the challenges new professionals face in acclimating to the demands of the industry can be considerable. Kelsey recommends that young alumni take advantage of their communities, both at Georgia Tech and in their fields of employment.

“Just like our wonderful community here at Tech, I would advise people to learn from others’ experiences and network,” she says. “The healthcare field is a large and complex world, but so many of the people in it are willing to mentor and teach the newest members who are willing to learn. By asking around and shadowing, an inquisitive mind and passionate drive can set you up for a strong and impactful career.”

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