Ellen Kourakos, Northwestern University Class of 2012, is a recipient of the Health for America Fellowship. As part of a team of four Fellows, Ellen was chosen from a national pool of applicants that included alumni of Brown, Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Cornell, MIT, Stanford, and dozens of other universities across the country.
Ellen was selected based on her background in Manufacturing and Design Engineering, her broad experience with human-centered design, and her passion for improving the lives of patients.
While at Northwestern, Ellen participated in the Global Engagement Summit and was a member of the Alpha Phi Fraternity. She was honored with the EDC Design Award, studied abroad in Copenhagen, and interned with Product and Design Metalwork in Brooklyn following her sophomore year. As a research assistant at Northwestern in 2011, Ellen tested polymers to determine the effects of pulverization on oxygen permeability. She also interned at Heathrow Scientific, where she helped to conceive and then manufacture a safety component.
After graduating two years ago, Ellen worked for CareFusion in Vernon Hills as a Research and Development Engineer and Project Leader. Her position enabled her to develop and improve medical devices, specifically surgical tools for minimally invasive procedures. She helped to expand the spine portfolio by four catalog codes, and her work focused on the healing of vertebral compression fractures. Ellen was also a Board Member of the company’s Women’s Initiative Network, where she helped initiate and lead corporate events to empower women through mentorship, networking, and community service.
Through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Chicago, Ellen volunteered her time providing educational support to children. She was also the co-founder and facilitator of the Chicago chapter of OpenIDEO, in which she guided a community team through social impact challenges.
As a Health for America Fellow, Ellen has the opportunity to conceptualize and actualize health technology solutions. The three Fellows working as Ellen’s teammates are millennials Nick Azpiroz, Sandra Hwang, and Megan Caldwell.
“The Health for America Fellowship provides a platform to become submerged in all aspects of the healthcare industry,” says Ellen. “I am hungry for an environment that promotes and fosters creative thinking through the design process, and I believe there is no industry more in need of such a radical change than healthcare.”