Students of the year: Julia Samorezov

BY STEPHEN OSTROWSKI
Daily Staff Writer
Published April 7, 2009

Engineering senior Julia Samorezov likes to spread herself thin. Involved in the engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Ambassadors and a service sorority, Samorezov has the immediate collegiate community covered. Now, she’s looking beyond Ann Arbor.

Clif Reeder/Daily

Samorezov is vice president and co-founder of Michigan Health Engineered for All Lives (M-HEAL), a student organization founded in 2006 to design medical equipment for needy communities in the developing world.

“We started out with a broad, naïve idea of ‘we want to help people,’ ” Samorezov said. “But we’re narrowing that down into ways we can actively help people.”

Last year, M-HEAL designed a surgical lamp with back-up battery power that can be used in areas with inconsistent electricity. The group plans to send the first prototype of the lamp to Uganda to receive feedback on its design from health providers working in clinics there.

M-HEAL also conducts a ‘survey of need’ to address the lack of medical resources in underprivileged communities and works with Detroit-based World Medical Relief to, among other things, repair used medical equipment.

And despite her part in M-HEAL’s recent success, Samorezov doesn’t take pride in her own achievements with the organization so much as in its future.

“Next year on the executive board, there’s not going to be any of the original M-HEAL founders,” Samorezov said. “And that’s really exciting.”

Given her modesty, it’s appropriate that as M-HEAL’s vice president, Samorezov assumes a more behind-the-scenes role. But her contributions haven’t gone unnoticed.

“The idea for M-HEAL was originally Julia’s,” Stephen DeWitt, one of M-HEAL’s three co-founders and head of the surgical lamp team, said in an e-mail. “Julia called me and told me her idea and I agreed to help bring it to fruition, but she was definitely the driving force behind everything.”

It seems that all those connected to M-HEAL are quick to heap praise on Samorezov.

“She leads by example and expects no less of herself than she does others,” Engineering Prof. Aileen Huang-Saad, who advises M-HEAL, said in an e-mail. “When the people around her see her efforts, they easily follow. These leadership skills are unique.”