One of the hallmarks of the college experience is making new friends, but not everyone gets to do it in Tanzania.

Carson Brewer is one of the fortunate few.

Carson Brewer, left, went to Tanzania and is helping develop a medical device based on what she and other team members learned.

Carson Brewer, left, went to Tanzania and is helping develop a medical device based on what she and other team members learned.

The bioengineering major went to the East African nation for nearly seven weeks with two other students at the end of her sophomore year, and the experience made a lasting impression.

“We lived in the communities,” Brewer said. “We became one of the Tanzanians and got to learn everything about them– their culture, their health care system and how we can take a step in fixing the broken links.”

Brewer, a senior, has made the most of her Clemson experience. She has traveled abroad, been heavily involved in research, played intramural sports and still found time to work as a nursing assistant on the cardiac floor at AnMed Health Medical Center.

John DesJardins said Brewer shows up early for design class, even though it starts at 8 a.m. He said he sometimes wonders, “Where do you get your energy?”

“She’s always got questions, and she’s always got ideas, “ said DesJardins, the Robert B. and Susan B. Hambright Leadership Associate Professor of Bioengineering.

“She’s endlessly happy and appreciative for opportunities given and always sees the bright side of the situation.”

When Brewer reflected on her time in Tanzania, one person stuck out in her mind.  She described him as a “young man named Weston,” who helped her and the other students bridge the language barrier.

“One evening, he brought the three of us over to his home and cooked a homemade dinner for us and welcomed us in to meet his family, his kids,” Brewer recalled.  “That was just such a rewarding feeling. This guy knew nothing about us, other than that we’re just three Clemson kids coming to try to save the world, and he opened his door to us and took us as his own.”

The trip to Tanzania was part of a Creative Inquiry project led by DesJardins and Delphine Dean, the Gregg-Graniteville Associate Professor of Bioengineering.

The information that Brewer and her team gathered  led to the development of a portable patient monitor for doctors on medical missions. The device has a hand crank to generate its own power. It measures blood pressure, temperature and blood-oxygen level. The monitor, now on its second prototype, also includes an electrocardiogram.

As graduation approached, Brewer was considering whether she wanted to work for a year or go directly into medical school.

Dean said Brewer is one of those students she will remember for a long time.

“There are a lot of opportunities at Clemson, whether it’s in academics or outside academics,” Dean said. “Carson is a great example of a student who went out and did all the things she wanted to do and then some by looking around and keeping her eyes open.”