Biosystems engineering sophomore Hunter Walters isn’t just glad to be pursuing his engineering education at UK; he’s glad to be anywhere. By all accounts, Hunter shouldn’t have lived to see double digits.
When Hunter was seven years old, doctors diagnosed him with lymphatic vascular malformation, a rare disease that causes his body to produce millions of microcystic tumors that can create blockages and impair his respiratory system. The prognosis for such a condition is grim; Hunter says most patients die within two years of diagnosis.
Fortunately, Hunter became only the second person in America to receive an experimental medication called Sirolimus, which uses a bacterium found only on Easter Island. It not only saved his life but also gave him a new lens through which to see the world.
“It’s one of the reasons why I’m a Christian,” says Hunter.
As one might suspect, experimental medicines are expensive. Further, Hunter continues to take Sirolimus since his condition is irreversible. For that reason, among others, Hunter is grateful for the scholarship support that enables him to pursue his biosystem engineering degree.
“Without the scholarship provided through the College of Engineering, I do not think I would have been able to come to the university,” he says.
A native of Irvine, Kentucky, Hunter grew up on 22 acres and enjoys hiking at the Red River Gorge whenever he’s home. Not surprisingly, he wants to apply engineering to problems involving the great outdoors.
“I’m interested in bioenvironmental sustainability, particularly water resources,” he says. “I would like to help restore natural processes.”
In addition to his academic studies, Hunter is a member of the Tau Beta Pi honor society, Cru—a Christian campus ministry at UK—and the student chapter of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.
Just as advanced pharmaceutical engineering produced a medicine able to save and preserve his life, Hunter hopes to use his engineering skills to improve the world in whatever measure he can.
“The Lord has been amazing to me, and I want to use my blessings to bless others.”