MU
Oak Leaves

May 11, 2018

alex


Senior Alex Figueroa traveled to Nicaragua to give health care to natives in poverty during the annual Medical Practicum

Photo by William Southern 


MU Senior Figueroa Joins Doctoral Program at Johns Hopkins


Teresa Masteller


After applying to 14 programs, Manchester University senior Alexis Figueroa accepted the offer to join one of five spots for the Doctoral Diversity Program (DDP) at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.  

As a chemistry major with a minor in biology, Figueroa will be well prepared to join this post-baccalaureate program for individuals interested in pursuing advanced biomedical-related degrees, such as a PhD in biochemistry or an MD, after he graduates in May. “The professors here are great, and I learned so much from my classes,” Figueroa said. “Having a good undergraduate education in the sciences will surely prepare me for graduate school.” 

During his two-year commitment with DDP, Figueroa will be matched with a research mentor, and he will receive stipend benefits, MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) prep and personalized career development assistance. 

Figueroa decided that he wanted to be included in a gap-year research program in order to gain experience and enhance his candidacy for when he follows his education plan and applies to MD/PhD dual degree programs. “My career goal is to be in a position that allows me some time to pursue clinical care and some time to pursue research,” he said.  

Figueroa received interview offers from Ohio State University, the University of Illinois-Chicago, IUPUI and Johns Hopkins University. “For the application process, I had to submit a personal statement, three letters of recommendation and a full transcript,” he said. “The process for Johns Hopkins was actually fairly competitive; they received over 300 applications, conducted two rounds of 17 interviews, and in the end, picked me as one of five interviewees to enter their cohort.”  

During his time at MU, Figueroa has had many accomplishments, including participating in two summer research internships, one at Miami University and the other at the University of Kentucky. In addition, Dr. Kristen Short, Figueroa, and the rest of the 2017 DNA science class published a gene sequence in the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) GenBank, a genetic sequence database.  

Figueroa has been an active member of the MU community throughout his time here. He has held e-board positions in Hispanos Unidos, the American Chemical Society and the Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society. He has also worked on campus in various positions that range from writing consultant to student health assistant. Recently, he was awarded the Luminescence Award, the highest award a student can receive from the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Each year, this award is given to the student who demonstrates the highest moral and ethical character, coupled with academic achievement and community involvement. 

In his hometown of East Chicago, Ind, Figueroa first heard about MU from his physical education teacher Coach Blank, who is an alumnus. “I came to MU for the personalized educational experience that comes with attending a smaller institution,” he said.

Things were not always easy at MU for Figueroa, who transferred out after his first semester here, mostly due to financial reasons. “At my new institution, the education experience was simply not the same, and I almost immediately started the process to return to MU,” he said. “I am happy that I decided to return.” 

Figueroa’s best MU memories include the medical practicum to Nicaragua, which he participated in twice as a translator. “My second trip was President Dave's first time out, so that was pretty special,” he said. “I especially enjoyed the tight-knit community we formed amongst the students, providers, and Nicaraguans. Our adventures in Nicaragua are memories that I will never forget.”

His favorite memories on campus include his study group in SCIC 310. “The people on the third floor of the science center have been a huge support system for me during my time here,” he said. “In 310, you can find us either focused and dedicated to our work or pursuing random antics.”