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Third-year bioengineering student Erin Provost (E’19) has been an avid runner since fifth grade, and she’s always had an interest in the workings of the human body. In her freshman year of high school, she acquired an interest in helping people with disabilities when she volunteered to help at a local Special Olympics event with a group from her hometown of East Hampton, Connecticut.
“The dedication of the athletes and their strength in competing in the face of their physical disabilities was truly amazing to see,” Provost recalls. “It made me realize that my own physical abilities, which I had previously taken for granted, were a gift. That experience was incredibly moving, and it changed my life. It created a desire to help others overcome their limitations and thrive.”
At Northeastern, Provost has continued to pursue this passion for helping others as the vice president of Enabling Engineering. This student volunteer organization applies engineering technologies to build devices that enable and empower individuals with disabilities, as well as senior citizens with mobility issues.
“We identify people in the local community who need help overcoming physical challenges in their everyday lives,” explains Provost. “Recently a team of ours designed a modified game controller for a teenager with cerebral palsy. It was so rewarding to see the joy on his face, and his parents’ faces, the first time he used it. We removed limitations and positively impacted his day-to-day life through a simple engineering project.”
As a co-op at Xtuit Pharmaceuticals, Provost is supporting research that examines therapies altering the microenvironment in cancer and fibrosis. She is also enjoying this broader-purpose endeavor aimed at improving the quality of people’s lives, which directly relates to her academic focus on cell and tissue research at Northeastern.
“I have not yet decided what concentration of research I want to pursue when I graduate,” Provost says, “but I am passionate about having a positive impact in the biotech industry by improving human health and helping people overcome physical limitations, whether caused by a disability or a disease.”
Provost believes that Northeastern is providing the ideal environment to pursue her goals. “Every student here is exceptional in some way,” she notes. “Everyone has a presence when they walk into a room, and everyone has a passion. No matter what that passion is, you can find people who share it, classes that inform it, and co-ops that build your skills in that area.”
“It was a little intimidating to come here from a small town in Connecticut, but I’ve found my niche here,” Provost concludes. “I can’t imagine earning my degree anywhere else.”