Using my education to empower young visionaries

student scientist working in lab

I will never forget the time when I sat at my grandfather’s bedside in the Intensive Care Unit on February 12th of 2013, holding his hand without an understanding of what was going on inside of his body. Three days later, he was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. Immediately opting for palliative care, he died on February 16th. My grandfather had not smoked a cigarette since returning from his service in the Vietnam War. Since his death, I have been on a journey to better understand, challenge, and contribute to diagnostics research. I’ve worked for our nation’s Air Force Research Lab in my home state of Ohio. I’ve served as a research assistant for the development of an implantable biosensor. And, having been granted a fellowship from the Beckman Foundation, I am now working under Dr. Gerard Coté to develop a handheld technology for point-of-care biomarker detection. In due time, I plan to obtain a Ph. D. in Global Health before conducting translational diagnostics research and empowering entrepreneurial engineers at the university level.

With regards to my latter interest in empowering young visionaries, I have enjoyed serving as the resident advisor for Texas A&M University’s entrepreneurship Living Learning Community. Building a community out of 40+ incoming college freshman has been challenging; however, it remains my pleasure to mentor the next generation of innovators. And the gracious support I receive from Startup Aggieland makes it all possible. I will forever be grateful to Texas A&M, its supporters, and key entrepreneurial leaders including Shelly Brenckman, Chuck Hinton, Don Lewis, Dick Lester, and Artie McFerrin. They have allowed me to attend Google’s Startup Grind conference, connected me with NSF I-Corps contacts conducive to the translation of my ongoing research, and directed me towards Blackstone Launchpad for the further development of my podcast service. And, I would not be living in a house of Texas A&M’s brightest entrepreneurs next year if it weren’t for them. My gratitude is unyielding.

My experiences as a member of the Pearson Student Advisory Board have mirrored my engagement with Texas A&M’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. I applied to join the board in light of my passion for empowering youth. Further, I was excited to work with fellow scholars to challenge long-held beliefs and promote more informed service of others. Colleagues at Pearson have challenged me to question how employability, mentorship, and creativity will change over time. Before the end of my tenure as an advisory board member, I look forward to developing a platform that allows for youth to better understand the evolving needs and policies of our nation and world. I am fortunate to have access to 14 fellow innovators on the Pearson Student Advisory Board who are likewise actively working to leave a lasting legacy on the educational space. I appreciate each of them for their varied strengths and perspectives; my gratitude is again as unyielding.

Luke Oaks headshotHowdy. In short, I am a biomedical engineer and imaginative entrepreneur dedicated to solving global health problems while empowering youth to do the same.
If you’d like to know more: I am an academic looking to experience an exploratory undergraduate education that extends far beyond the classroom. As such, I wear a lot of hats. I enjoy serving as an ambassador for prospective National Merit students, a resident advisor for the Startup Aggieland incubator’s freshman Living Learning Community, an adopted member of the Posse Scholar community, and a Senior Editor for Explorations: The Texas A&M Undergraduate Journal. Also an inspired researcher, I am developing a technology for improved oral cancer diagnosis under the support of The Beckman Foundation. My future sights are set on improving health care and the dissemination of information/care in low and middle income countries. Let’s make some waves.