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2018 grad gets research position at Johns Hopkins

figueroa-alexForming deep connections with others and growing as a researcher defined Alex Figueroa’s time at Manchester University. That experience has propelled the 2018 graduate into a two-year post-baccalaureate research position at Johns Hopkins University designed for people who are pursuing advanced biomedical-related degrees in fields such as medicine or dentistry.

The chemistry major and biology minor from East Chicago, Ind., says talking with people at MU and watching them grow brought him out of his shell. Two trips to Nicaragua as a translator with MU’s Medical Practicum helped too. “I enjoyed the tight-knit community that was formed between the students, medical providers and Nicaraguans,” he said. “I enjoyed learning everyone’s story.”

To become a researcher, Figueroa first had to learn how to become a student. “Being a good student involves having an open mind to learning and having a thirst for knowledge,” he said. “Also, because I studied science, I learned how to be naturally curious and carry out an investigation, whether that be solving a problem in the lab or reviewing the factors associated with making a major life decision.”

Now the Doctoral Diversity Program at Johns Hopkins will prepare Figueroa for the next step. “My life goal is to become a researching physician. … My responsibilities at JHU will range from working in a lab full time to shadowing a diverse team of health care professionals. The awesome part about this program is that it is individualized for my professional and personal goals.”

While all of MU professors helped shape him, Figueroa gives particular credit to his academic advisor Jeff Osborne, professor of chemistry.  “Dr. Osborne has done a lot for me,” Figueroa said. “He always encouraged me to excel as a student and as a person, and I would say that he has high expectations for me.”

Like everyone at MU, Figueroa was challenged to discover his best self. He says he did that by taking responsibility for his actions and constantly trying to be a better person. “My courses and professors have taught me to be compassionate,” he added. “So, for me, becoming my best self was about understanding that people (myself included) make mistakes.”

By Haylee Parrish ’18