Depression, Alzheimer’s disease, brain cancer—these neurological issues show up again and again in Keni H. K. Reid’s (’20) family tree. “I wanted to be part of the solution,” says the neuroscience major, who works alongside biology professor John “Keoni” Kauwe (BS ’99, MS ’03) in the hunt for a cure for Alzheimer’s. The Kauwe Lab team has found that the RAB10 gene mutation has a direct correlation with amyloid plaque build-up—a main cause of Alzheimer’s. The research is just one step on the long path to the cure, but it’s immediately rewarding for the 14 students who get hands-on lab time.
It’s one of many such experiences taking place on and off campus as part of BYU’s “inspiring learning” emphasis, providing education that both inspires students to learn and provides learning opportunities that lead to inspiration. Much of this learning takes place in internships and mentorships—experiences facilitated by donor funds. A $1,500 grant allowed Reid to focus on RAB10 instead of next month’s rent. “That’s a lot for a poor college student,” he says, noting that it helped him to “do excellent work, not just good work because of divided attention.”
BYU’s new Inspiring Learning Initiative is providing hundreds of students like Reid with enriched learning experiences—traveling to South America to teach effective farming techniques, speaking to the United Nations, and engineering protective shields for law enforcement, to name a few.
The inspiration doesn’t just come through academic experiences, says Reid. “[My professors are] righteous disciples. They love what they do. They love what they teach, and they want us to love what we do,” he says. “It’s who they are that inspires me to want to learn.”