Senior David Reed directs camp for children of cancer patients

Author: Shadia Ajam

David Reed, a senior science pre-professional major, is the director of Camp Kesem Notre Dame, a camp for children of cancer patients. The program is part of a larger, nationwide community driven by passionate college student leaders that support children through and beyond their parent’s cancer. By offering innovative, fun-filled programs that foster a lasting community, the organization aims to ensure that every child affected by a parent’s cancer is never alone.


Throughout the year, Reed oversees the planning of Camp Kesem and works as a counselor during the week-long camp the first week of August. The group takes campers from the local area to a camp in Jackson, Michigan.

Along with serving as director for the camp, Reed is a teaching assistant for a freshman biology lab with Professor Mark Olsen in the Department of Biological Sciences. Reed says he “enjoys working with freshmen because they’re learning how to navigate college, study, and manage their classes, and it’s really fun to stay involved in that class.”

Reed also worked in Mark Suckow’s lab, where he researched Alum and SIS’s ability as adjuvants to enhance immune response in mice to combat developing cancers. The Suckow’s laboratory worked to develop and define cancer vaccines, which are produced from harvested tumor tissue and therefore include an enormous menu of relevant targets for the immune system.

Like many students, service has also been a part of Reed’s Notre Dame experience. Over spring break last year he went on a Global Public Health Brigade trip to Nicaragua and helped build a family a new home with cement floors, a shower, and toilet stations. The Brigades staff also set it up where the waste water from the toilet and shower would be funneled to a waste container so that it would not become incorporated into the soil or the water serving the home.

“It was really remarkable I had never been outside of the U.S. It was amazing to see not only how beautiful it was, but how impoverished it was. It really gives you an appreciation for what you have,” said Reed.

For post-graduation plans, he has his eyes set on medical school. Hailing from the suburbs of Chicago, he hopes to attend a school in the windy city.

“The heart of studying medicine is doing something in service to others in need. I think that medicine will always challenge you to learn new things, develop your skills. That’s something that really intrigued me, so I would love to have a career where I can help people and develop myself,” said Reed.