As a high school freshman in Anchorage, Alaska, Camden MacDowell (2015, Emory College) read The Hot Zone by Richard Preston, the nonfiction best seller that introduced millions to the ravages of the deadly Ebola virus.
The book sparked a sustained interest in viruses, leading MacDowell to pursue an internship at the Alaska branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Through the internship, he learned about Emory, applied, and was accepted.
Eight years after he first encountered Ebola virus, MacDowell found himself in Washington, D.C., sitting in a US Senate committee hearing on the disease and efforts to control its spread around the world—particularly in West Africa where an unprecedented outbreak has taken a shattering toll. The star witness at the hearing was Kent Brantly, a physician and missionary who was successfully treated for Ebola virus disease at Emory University Hospital and became the first patient treated for the disease in the US.
“Ebola, in a way, is why I am at Emory,” MacDowell says. “So it kind of came full circle when we went to this Senate hearing and I saw the powerful impact Emory is making. I know from experience that Emory has an impact in the Atlanta community and the Georgia community, but the Senate hearing was a really tangible example of the positive impact that Emory is making across the nation, and even helping to contribute resources to the Ebola outbreak in Africa. That’s why it was so exciting.”
MacDowell, a Woodruff Scholar majoring in neuroscience and behavioral biology, traveled to D.C. in September with a group of eleven other Emory Scholars on a specially planned trip that was the first of its kind. The students, mostly seniors, spent two days meeting with Emory alumni and officials working in a broad range of fields and learning about life in the nation’s capital.