York Science Alums Make Their Mark
by Chrystal Houston
In the Science Department at YC, Abigail Henderson (’05), Irena (Kadiu ’03) Kieken, and Aaron Fletcher (’02) all excelled in the classroom and laboratory. Whether doing experiments or presenting papers, these three consistently lead the pack. After leaving YC, that didn't change. Now, these impressive scholars are still striving for academic excellence and creating a name for themselves in the world of science.
Henderson, a native of Knightstown, Indiana is currently pursuing a Ph.D in Molecular Biology and Genetics at Indiana University. Specifically, she is working in a laboratory that studies ocular development. Upon graduation, Henderson plans to continue to research human diseases and perhaps teach.
No matter what career path she chooses, Henderson says that YC has prepared her with a wide base for scientific research, as well as an understanding that her gifts must be put to good use. “It is more important for me to find a career that will allow me to help others rather than choose one based on the salary or prestige of the job,” she said.
Irena (Kadiu) Kieken is finding success in grad school as well. Recently, some of her work was featured in the Journal of Immunology and Virology and a photo that accompanied one of her articles made the front cover of the issue.
Currently, Kieken is working on a Ph.D in Neuroscience at the University of Nebraska Medical Center at Omaha. Her area of specialty is the role of innate immunity in neurodegeneration. She has been published several times, including four review articles, three book chapters and six primary research articles. Recently she received several awards, including the “Community Pride Research Excellence Award” from the Nebraska Foundation.
Kieken will graduate in the spring of 2008. She then plans to continue her studies to become a medical doctor. Irena married fellow UNMC student, Fabien Kieken, on July 14, 2007. Fabien is a postdoctoral researcher in Biophysics at UNMC and hails from Orleans, France.
“When I came to the US from Albania seven years ago, York College became my home away from home and my professors and friends became my family,” said Kieken. “I will always be grateful to YC for the outstanding spiritual atmosphere and excellent education that I experienced during my undergraduate years.”
Aaron Fletcher recently graduated from the University of Colorado with his Ph.D in Biochemistry. In May 2007, he was named Outstanding Senior Research Graduate Student from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
In the summer of 2007, Fletcher and his wife Holly (Eckstein ’03) moved to Carrollton, Texas, where they have become entrepreneurs. Aaron is the general manager of Lorente, LLC, an investment advisory business where he serves as the biotech/technology analyst.
Holly also works for Lorente as the head of the World Class Awards Division. This is a new business venture for the Fletchers and they hope that it will have big dividends in the future. “We are excited to see what God has in store for us in terms of our business and know that if it something the Father feels we can glorify Him in, we’ll see it come to fruition,” said Aaron.
Fletcher says that in addition to the skills necessary to succeed in graduate school, YC also taught him "the importance of ethics in all business, educational, and other dealings." That knowledge should serve him well as he pursues this new business venture.