Hannah Chung ’12 hopes to make the treatment of childhood cancer a little more bearable. The co-founder of Sproutel, Chung works alongside CEO and co-founder Aaron Horowitz ’12 to design products that make a meaningful health impact on the lives of patients. The latest innovation from the patient-centered research company is called My Special Aflac Duck, an innovation that was recognized by Time as one of the “Best Inventions” of 2018. The stuffed animal, created in collaboration with the insurance agency Aflac, engages child cancer patients in play through naturalistic movements and distinct emotions to help them cope with cancer. By using emoji feeling cards to embody the patient’s feelings in the duck, Sproutel’s invention aims to give patients a friend with whom they can share their confusing and difficult emotions. “Kids are kids,” says Chung, Sproutel’s head of design. “They want to have fun, and sometimes being at the hospital can be very isolating.” Sproutel worked closely with patients, doctors and experts at the Aflac Cancer Center during the 18-month design process. Aflac hopes to gift a My Special Aflac Duck to every child newly diagnosed with cancer and has reached 2,000 children at more than 100 hospitals. Chung and Horowitz launched Sproutel in 2012 with Jerry the Bear, a teaching tool for children with Type 1 diabetes.
Flanked by an arch of rainbow-colored balloons, David Waymer ’14 had an exciting announcement for the nearly 70 members of the class of 2019 standing before him. As president of the Northwestern University Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association (NUGALA), he was speaking at Lavender Graduation — a ceremony held June 18 to celebrate the achievements of graduating students in the University’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and ally community.