Karina Duarte

Kalamazoo College junior Karina Duarte and President Jorge Gonzalez

Karina Duarte (left) speaks with Kalamazoo College President Jorge Gonzalez about her student research.

Karina Duarte is a junior at Kalamazoo College.

Major: Chemistry, pre-med track

Concentration: Community and Global Health

Possible Minor: Economics

Learning through Experience: Internship at Pinon (Arizona) Health Center, Indian Health Service; Externship with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in Edinburg, Texas; Civic Engagement Scholar at Maple Street Middle School; Resident Assistant in charge of K’s 10 Living-Learning Houses; Member of the Council of Student Representatives.

Senior Individualized Project: Considering three options: Analysis of the College’s path to elite status and its integration of students of color; study of sustainability and adverse health effects of open lagoon waste water treatment systems; public health research based on an anticipated internship at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Karina’s family’s roots trace to El Salvador, the “heart of Latin America,” she says with a smile. The Los Angeles native grew up in starkly straitened circumstances in the tight-knit family of her mother, aunt, brother and cousin. Karina is the first in her family to attend college.

Her passion for social justice is every bit as strong as her love of science and she continually sees and draws attention to connections between the two.

For Karina, academic subjects are like human beings in the sense that neither is ever an island, entire in itself. Karina considers cross-applications of science and the humanities, always (!), which is why she loves favorite professors and mentors across the liberal arts board—in chemistry, literature, political science, student development, college advancement and admission to name just a few.

The strength of an obligation to pay back (as well as forward) may vary according to the socioeconomic circumstances in which one was raised. Few things are as violent to a future as poverty. The impulse to pay back and to pay forward (most likely through a dual degree and career in medicine and public health) is paramount for Karina. She shapes her K experience—with its combination of struggle and joy—to achieve balance and harmony (mainly through a multitude of relationships with wonderfully different persons) on her path to a future forever tied to others.