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College and Wharton junior Aravind Krishnan is the winner of the Sarah Katz Award (Photo from Penn Abroad).

College and Wharton junior Aravind Krishnan has been named the first recipient of the Sarah Katz Award for a project advancing cardiovascular health. 

The award provides $5,000 in funding for an undergraduate student working on initiatives to promote health literacy and community outreach. Krishnan's project proposal focused on incorporating CPR and AED into Penn's Shelter Health Outreach Program, a volunteer organization that aims to empower homeless individuals across Philadelphia to improve their health. 

The Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships and the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education announced the Sarah Katz Award in February to honor the memory and legacy of Sarah Katz, a College junior who died in 2022. Katz, who had a heart condition known as long QT syndrome 1, was heavily involved in activities related to promoting and raising awareness about heart health while at Penn. 

Krishnan is majoring in biology in the Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management with concentrations in health care management and statistics. He said his motivation for applying for the award came from his experience as an EMT in high school, where he witnessed how the conditions of his patients could be improved if they had access to primary health resources. 

Krishnan is a board member of SHOP, which offers free hypertension screening, mobile clinics, and oral health screenings. Krishnan’s project proposal was directly related to CPR and AED usage, which connects to Katz’s mission of heart health awareness. 

“We wanted to bridge the gap and make sure that traditionally marginalized communities can improve their health,” Krishnan said. 

Katz served as coordinator for a CPR training project in the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education and taught CPR to high school students as a Red Cap ambassador with the American Heart Association. She also worked as a research assistant at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and advocated for a bill to make all schools in Pennsylvania certified “heart-safe” spaces. 

“We see [the project] as extending Sarah’s mission and allowing her legacy to live on,” Krishnan said. 

To apply for the award, students wrote a personal statement, project proposal, and an estimate of costs among other documents. The applicants were screened by a selection committee in late March and early April. The project must be initiated within a year of being awarded funding.