Biotechnology’s Commitment to the Community

The 2023-2024 year has been a busy time academically for the MS in Biotechnology program at Georgetown University, yet despite this, students have made a commitment to give back to the community. The co-chairs of Community Outreach on the Biotechnology program’s Executive Board include both Salma Mahfouz (S’24) and Christon Hill (F’24). Both Mahfouz and Hill see community outreach as an important aspect of the Biotechnology program.  Together their goal for outreach is to offer more educational support and resources to schools and underprivileged youth in the region, enhancing STEM education and opportunities in the DMV area and to engage in initiatives that enhance the overall well-being of the community. They hope that through a precedent of active community engagement and social responsibility the program’s commitment to doing good when opportunities arise, can serve as a beacon of positive change within the DC, Maryland and Virginia areas (DMV).

Salma Mahfouz (MS candidate)
Georgetown University
MS in Biotechnology Program
Cell & Gene Therapy Track

Last semester the Biotechnology program participated in a number of impactful service projects. The first included a partnership with the organization, So What Else DC? an organization aiming to improve the lives of underserved families and children living within the DC/Baltimore area. They provide children and teens with free resources including after school programing in topics such as literacy, visual and performing arts, and volunteer programs along with food security and basic necessities. At this event, Biotechnology students and members of “So What Else DC?” participated in a clean-up day at the Georgetown waterfront and area surrounding Georgetown University. At this event, Biotechnology students were able to connect with the younger students involved with So What Else DC? and learn about their interest and future aspirations. Both Mahfouz and Hill note that this was one of the more impactful experiences from last semester. Being able to see how So What Else DC? provides influential programming for teens has solidified the drive to partner with them in the future.  

Christon Hill (MS candidate)
Georgetown University
MS in Biotechnology Program
Individualized Track

The Biotechnology program also participated in a canned food drive and organized a Toys for Tots collection through the Office of Biomedical Graduate Education at the Georgetown medical Center. Students in the program have donated various non-perishable goods and toys which were later distributed to families within the DMV area in the hopes it would make their holidays a little brighter. The Biotechnology program donated enough food to be recognized as the top contributor for the food drive. This accomplishment highlights the program’s and co-chairs’ mission to make a meaningful and positive impact within the community.

For this spring semester, the program is already engaged in a winter clothing drive. The clothes that will be collected are going to be distributed to those facing homelessness within the DMV area. All collected clothing will be distributed through the Georgetown Ministry’s Group to benefit the wider community. Mahfouz and Hill are also coordinating an animal shelter service day as well as another event with So What Else DC? for this semester.

The main goal for community outreach within the program is to seize any opportunity that may have an impact. Hill notes that any effort, no matter how small it may seem, contributes to the wellness of the community. Mahfouz also notes the importance of establishing a more prominent connection with underprivileged youth communities in the DMV area as both education and mentorship play crucial roles in shaping a promising future. The organized and effective nature Mahfouz brings to the team is complimented by Hill’s commitment to upholding his family’s motto of “do good”. Through their work, the co-chairs of community outreach have displayed how important and vital it is to give back to the community. With their leadership and direction, it is clear that even a small outreach program like this can and will have an impact on a larger scale. 

Written by: Kayla McEachern (MS candidate)

Contributions from: Salma Mahfouz and Christon Hill (MS candidates)

Edits by: Kyle DiVito, PhD

March 2024