Gabriel Rangel finds joy in using his knowledge to help others, whether that means going on service trips to help with hurricane relief or researching malaria. Rangel was named Top Senior in Agriculture at Purdue University and is the first student to have received the honor every year since beginning as a freshman.
Gabriel Rangel finds joy in using his knowledge to help others, whether that means going on service trips to help with hurricane relief or researching malaria. Rangel was named Top Senior in Agriculture at Purdue University and is the first student to have received the honor every year since beginning as a freshman.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — With a wedding and graduation just around the corner, senior Gabriel Rangel is excited for the future as he finishes up his last week at Purdue University.

Rangel, a biochemistry major from Indianapolis, will be moving to Boston shortly after his June wedding. He will attend Harvard School of Public Health, where he will continue researching something he is very passionate about — malaria.

“I’m really excited about science,” he said “I’m very passionate about understanding how things work. But I’m also really excited about helping impoverished communities develop.

“The intersection of these two things is researching diseases that affect impoverishment. If we can get rid of the medical burden, people in developing regions can focus more on their economic or personal development.”

Rangel was named Top Senior in Agriculture at Purdue and is the first student to have received the honor every year since beginning as a freshman.

Although he does not have an agricultural background, Rangel came across the College of Ag on a tour of the school and decided it was the right place for him.

“I talked to Dr. Scott Briggs in the Biochemistry Department when I was touring here,” Rangel recalled. “He told me I could get into research as early as freshman year. That was something that no other university I was considering offered.

“The atmosphere that I got from Purdue, especially the College of Agriculture and the Biochemistry Department, is another reason I came here. They are so welcoming. It was a lot like a family.”

Rangel has worked as an intern for the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center, the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Harvard School of Pubic Health. He also has worked in the lab with Briggs at Purdue for four years.

Rangel is involved in student government, Biochemistry Club, Youth Advocating Leadership and Learning, Raising Awareness of International Medicine and many other organizations, many of which focus on mentoring youth and helping others. Last year, he planned a trip for a small group of students to travel to New Jersey for Hurricane Sandy relief.

“Even if you’re not neighbors with somebody, it’s important to take into account what you can do, what skills that you have that you can use to help other people,” he said. “I think Purdue does a good job at culturing people to think that way, especially in the College of Agriculture.”

Rangel credits his academic advisers for helping him achieve so much during his college career. He noted that without their direction, there are internships and opportunities of which he would not have been aware.

Reflecting on his journey at Purdue, Rangel had nothing but good things to say.

“There have been a ton of opportunities to grow as a biochemist, academically and socially as a leader,” he said. “Being in a lab has helped me develop my scientific-thinking abilities, which has allowed me to get the opportunities I have now.

“But then the leadership development, through things like student government and Biochemistry Club outreach, has been huge.”

In the future, Rangel would like to be a professor doing research and mentoring students or working with international health policy.