Claudine Humure applies for Ozy Genius Award to fund prosthetic socket design funding

“I dream of a Rwanda where being handicapped does not define a person’s capabilities. A day will come when all amputees will be able to afford a prosthesis that will allow them to perform wonders beyond their imagination,” reads Claudine Humure’s ’17 Linkedin profile. The Biology and Business major plans to open a prosthetic clinic in her home country of Rwanda after graduation. Humure recently applied for an Ozy Genius Award that grants up to $10,000 to 10 college students to help achieve their dreams.

President Dennis Hanno told Humure about this award and encouraged her to apply. Applications for the award closed on Jan. 31 and results will be announced in March. “I read about it and applied after Christmas. I also sent in a video which was what the public voted on,” Humure said. She already had 1000+ votes by the time the applications closed and plans to use the money to develop the prosthetic socket that she is currently working on.

Humure’s interest in this field came from her own experience of being an amputee after losing her right leg to cancer. “I lived in Rwanda as an amputee. There is very little handicap accessibility all over the country. For me, as a person with a prosthesis, I had bit of an easier life- many even can’t afford wheelchairs.”

She said that the Rwandan genocide in 1994 left a lot of people handicapped. “If they had a prosthesis, they would be able to move around, go to school and get a job,” Humure said.

When she first came to Wheaton, Humure initially planned to become a doctor. “I thought I wanted to do chemistry but I took my first biology class and it just felt right, I knew this was what I was supposed to do. I was confused my freshman year; I knew I wanted to work with amputees. With my internships, I gravitated to the field of prosthetic limbs,” Humure said.

Since 2003, Humure has been working as a counselor at Camp No Limits for families with kids who are amputees. She worked Biomechatronics Research Intern at MIT in 2015 and an undergraduate student researcher at Autodesk in summer 2016. She also worked as Comprehensive Rehabilitation intern at Spaulding Hospital in Charlestown, around time of the Boston marathon bombing. “I was mentoring these people who had lost their limbs suddenly. Even though I was an amputee, [there] was a lot of learning,” she said.

Humure felt that Wheaton has helped make her numerous internships possible. “I looked for the internships myself but most were funded by Wheaton fellowship and the Winternship. If Wheaton did not support my previous internships, I would have not got to MIT.” Humure also credits the classes she has taken and the Filene center as a useful resource to help polish her resumé.

Humure added that Assistant Professor of Biology Laura Ekstrom was instrumental in teaching physiology and supporting her research. According to the Wheaton College website, Humure used the 3-D printer in the WHALE Lab at Wheaton to create a prototype of the prosthetic socket that she had designed. Humure also said that it was Professor John Kricher’s biology class that sparked her interest in biology. “When I went to his office hours, he would compliment my writing and study skills. I thought a professor believes in me, which really helped push me,” she said.

On her plans after graduation, Humure has already applied for job with Partners in Health, a non-profit organization that provides healthcare to developing countries. “I think the best way to start anything is to get to know the people who you want to work for. For me, starting this prosthetic clinic would be me working for the people of Rwanda and serving my country. It won’t do me any good to my country if I graduate and decide to stay here,” Humure said.

“My country is developing; there is so much that we don’t have. People come [to the U.S.] and see all these opportunities. They can’t imagine themselves going back [home]. It’s not the people but the society they grow up in,” Humure said on her plans to return home. “Everyone should help their country. I understand wanting to stay here and make more money but don’t stay forever- people come here and never look back.”