News from The Mahurin Honors College
Obadiah Kirk Spotlight
- Sydney Windhorst
- Thursday, February 17th, 2022
The Mahurin Honors College (MHC) strives to provide the greatest opportunities and resources for all of our scholars. While most enter the MHC following their senior year of high school, that was not the case for Obadiah Kirk (MHC ‘20). (If you want to learn more about how he joined, please view his graduation video from 2020 here.) This spotlight focuses more on his Ascent Toward Excellence from that point on, and what Obadiah is up to now!
During his time on campus, Obadiah Kirk (MHC ‘20) majored in exercise science and used his free time to be heavily involved within the MHC. He was a part of the Student Exchange program and the Study Abroad Global Leader Scholarship, and although he did not study abroad, he was able to use that scholarship for a semester exchange opportunity in Hawaii.
Obadiah saw his time at WKU like a partnership. Although he needed to “buckle down” and take the classes, make the grades, and do the research, WKU offered networking opportunities and application support. He in turn, wanted to share that support with others in the student body.
He served as a leader for the Intercultural Student Engagement Center (ISEC) Academy, which focuses on offering mentorship, finances, and exploratory research to first generation minority students who are embarking on a journey towards academically based careers.
“I was the go to person to tutor students on all kinds of STEM related subjects,” stated Obadiah. “ISEC means a lot to me honestly, because when I see those individuals that ISEC aids, I see myself. So many of the struggles, the premonitions, the concerns, or even the fears that those students share, I too have felt. I wanted them to understand that despite these feelings, financial restrictions, or home life challenges, they can make their dreams a reality.”
In addition to tutoring, many of Obadiah’s extracurricular activities aided him in developing himself as the best medical servant he could become.
“The Physical Education Program Coordinator my sophomore year noticed my love for people and my natural extroverted tendencies and asked me if I would come help represent their organization that supports kids with Down Syndrome at a large donor event. I was thrilled at the opportunity, and it ended up being the start of a long term relationship with the Buddy House. I went on to help with several other events including a parade. I was just fascinated by this community and honored to be a part of it.”
In combination with his medical field aspirations, Obadiah focused on learning as much as could about this often overlooked community.
“I realized children and adults often look at the Down Syndrome community as almost “less than”, and as someone going into healthcare, I was driven to better understand this community so I knew how to best serve them. To fully understand something, you have to immerse yourself in it. If you want to learn to cook, go to the kitchen. If you want to learn how to sail, go to a ship. So if I wanted to learn about a specific patient population that may be underserved, I needed to immerse myself.”
Upon graduating, Obadiah pursued a research opportunity through Stanford University. Unfortunately, because this was the height of COVID, his experience was not in person. To support his family, he took some time to rest and help take care of his nephews and neices. Utilizing this time to focus on himself and his family gave him new inspiration and motivation in his career aspirations. Obadiah went on to accept a position at Southern Hills Hospital as a Patient Safety Attendant.
While that could seem like a lot in a short time, Obadiah was met with the opportunity to teach a class at his alma mater. Since finishing those jobs, Obadiah has been studying and doing clinicals at Duke School of Medicine as a Biomedical student. This fast-paced and hands-on program is equipping him with quality knowledge and experience.
Obadiah’s most recent adventure was submitting a Fulbright Application! With the help of MHC Assistant Director for Academics Professor Susann Davis, who has been aiding Obadiah in learning Spanish so that he might best care for his patient population, he completed the quite lengthy Fulbright application.
Although he has not yet received an answer on his Fulbright application yet, the MHC has full confidence in his capabilities and cannot wait to see where this journey takes him next. We are so proud of the work you do, Obadiah!