Born in Seoul, South Korea, Seul (Kathy) Ku immigrated to the suburbs of Chicago with her family when she was three. She attended a high school with a predominantly low-income student population that spoke more than sixty different languages, and the free clinic in the basement of her high school helped to spur her interest in providing much needed resources to underserved populations.
At Harvard University, Kathy pursued her bachelor’s in molecular and cellular biology and her master’s in engineering. During her first summer break, she traveled to Uganda to teach a health course at an all girls’ academy focused on pregnant mothers. While living with a host family that often fell sick to waterborne illnesses, she was inspired to design a water filter that would be affordable, effective and socially accepted. As a result, she took a year off from school to start SPOUTS of Water, a local manufacturer of ceramic water filters. During this time, to better understand how to distribute and deliver filters across the region and build a sustainable company, Kathy also interned at McKinsey & Co. and the Boston Consulting Group.
After graduating from Harvard and having a successful pilot production of filters under her belt, Kathy moved to Uganda fulltime for three years, helping to build a sustainable company that has since provided more than 100,000 people with access to clean drinking water. As of 2018, SPOUTS employs more than forty people in Uganda and continues to grow as an organization.
At Stanford University, Kathy manages a free health clinic and conducts cost-effectiveness research to maximize care. She hopes to use her diverse experiences to help deliver health care more effectively in the future.