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Spotlight on Students: Camisha Card

Card chose Cornell because she wanted to gain experience with the latest lab technologies.

  • Affiliation: Biological Engineering
  • Hometown: Port Charlotte, Fla.

A member of Model U.N. in high school, Camisha Card considered studying political science, but chose engineering instead. "I wanted to do something about the problems that we're having in our society today," she says. "Problems that are responsible for many of the conflicts that we have, like in Darfur, where rapid desertification is an important contributing factor."

With several members of her family hard hit by disease, Card chose to major in biological engineering, with a special concentration in biomedical engineering. "When my grandmother passed away when I was in ninth grade I wanted to do something to try to see if there was possibly a cure for diabetes," she says. "And when I was looking at the research as far as the creation of an artificial pancreas I decided I wanted to go into tissue engineering."

Card, a Jamaican national with permanent resident status, says she chose Cornell because she wanted to gain experience with the latest lab technologies. "It had the research facilities I wanted to work in," she says. "I wanted to go someplace where I could learn the most that I could learn."

She also liked the people she met here. When she missed the engineering tour on a visit to campus, she started asking around in Duffield Hall. She soon found a biological engineering minor who showed her around the quad. "I was absolutely amazed because she was busy doing homework and she didn't have to do that," says Card. "For someone to take the time out of their day to show me around and to want to help me, really drew me here."

Now Card gives tours of her own as an Engineering Ambassador. She likes to show visitors the Minesweeper student project team. "The impact that they are making in the international community absolutely amazes me," she says. "As engineers, it's not just our passion for math, our passion for science, but ultimately it's our passion for making some sort of change in the world that matters. Preventing people from being maimed, that is something incredible that we get to do here as an undergrad."

Diversity wasn't a consideration for Card when choosing a college—she says the population at Cornell is about the same as her high school—but Diversity Programs in Engineering has been a great resource. "DPE is my saving grace," she says. "The people there are really nice and always willing to help. From the very beginning, before I even got here, they were interested and they wanted to make sure that I succeeded."

Card is active in the National Society of Black Engineers and mentors first year students through DPE's CUEmpower program. "We just show them the ropes, tell them about our experiences, be a shoulder to lean on, someone to come to," she says. "I think to make the most of your experience at Cornell you have to go to office hours. Office hours is a good option to get to know your professors and TAs," she says. "It's also a chance to get to talk to them about the research they are doing. It may be something that you are interested in and could be a part of."

In the summer of 2010, Card worked as a lab assistant for Ted Clark, associate professor of Parasitology and Immunology in Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine. "There are several projects and I'm working on virtually all of them in one way or another," she says.

With its academic rigors, Cornell Engineering was not an easy choice for Card, but it was the right one. "It seemed to be the right path to reaching my dream to make a difference in diabetes, to relieve suffering," she says. "I wanted to do something of consequence in the world and Cornell Engineering gave me that path."

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