In a prestigious competition that drew 120 students from 19 universities, there was only one title for winner of top
honors, and that title went to ALA alum Julia Agudogo.
Julia, who is a senior studying Biomedical Engineering at Duke University in North Carolina, participated in Rice 360°’s annual Global Health Design Competition as a one-woman team and won for her design of speculum-free cervical imaging. “About half a million women are diagnosed annually with cervical cancer [and] a disproportionate 75-85% [are] in the developing world. I am passionate about developing tools for speculum-free cervical isualization because the speculum is one of the key barriers to cervical cancer screening for women in low resource settings,” she says. Her innovation addresses the need for women to undergo essential screenings that can save their lives while eliminating their fear of cost and experiencing pain. Julia’s offering also promises applicability in various other areas
such as self-colposcopy exams.
Julia came to ALA at the age of 18 with a strong background in academics and leadership. She had worked for three years at an orphanage as a mathematics tutor and founded a project called CalcArt which sold customised ‘calculator art’ to raise funds for the orphanage. Daughter to parents who are both doctors, Julia had an easy found interest in medicine. Her interest in biomedical engineering came from a trip to Arusha, Tanzania where she realized that the dire state of donated medical devices in the developing world severely hampered physicians’ abilities to deliver effective and reliable healthcare services.
During her time at ALA, she founded the ‘Yin Project’, a non-profit based in Ghana to support the empowerment of illegal child-miners through the sale of recycled glass bracelets. She was also at the center of many scholastic and cultural activities that saw her foster an interest in African History, servant leadership, and the development of low-cost entrepreneurial solutions relevant to the African context.
Julia’s achievement at Duke is a testament to her strong will and commitment to her objectives, which she always associates with her imminent return to the Ghana. There, she aims to establish an organization of healthcare professionals to efficiently and cost-effectively treat patients, regardless of their social status. She says, “It is my dream that … this device would be widely available to women vulnerable to cervical cancer; especially those in East Africa where the disease is most prevalent.”
Julia’s victory at the Global Health Design Competition is a true reflection of principles enshrined at ALA, especially the belief in ‘the power of one’.