“Many people get tired when they do math. For me, it wakes me up,” Alex Mina says. Alex discovered in high school that he enjoyed problem solving and doing Rube Goldberg exercises in physics much more than any other subject.
“Learning math and science is a function of how much you put in. The more effort I put in, the more I get out of the problem. I just love the creativity in finding different methods to solve a problem.”
His love for math and science is what led him to Carolina when he was offered the opportunity to become a Chancellor’s Science Scholar (CSS) through the Excel at Carolina program. But he almost ended up closer to home, Baltimore, Maryland. Alex was offered a full scholarship to another leading public university.
“I was really thinking that’s where I’d go,” Alex says. “But when I had my interview for the CSS program, I could really see myself at Carolina. They taught me a lot about the program. It felt like my family away from home. It was amazing.”
Through various program resources such as panels, workshops and academic advising, he became exposed to different careers in science and received guidance on how to achieve his goals.
“CSS showed me the options. When we have questions regarding courses, next steps, where do I go from there, our program coordinator and advisors will easily take the time to show us the different paths. They leave the big decision of what to do to us, but they help us with tying it all together.”
Alex is majoring in biomedical engineering and is interested in prosthetics and rehabilitative engineering. He is a member of Helping Hands Projects, which builds prosthetic hands for disabled children. He is a UNC wrestler, a member of the Carolina Table Tennis Club, youth leader and Sunday School teacher at a local Coptic Church.
Through his other love, wrestling, Alex has honed in on what he wants to do, which is to work with kids and help restore functions through prosthetics.
“I saw a lot of injuries going to wrestling competitions, and there are injuries you can’t fix,” Alex says. “Giving people restoration of a function would forever change their life. I could give this person a better life. That alone is a pretty big drive.”
Alex says it’s a long and risky journey, but he knows it will be worth it. He also knows he won’t have to do it alone. One of the key benefits of the CSS program is having a built-in support network of peers.
“Cohort for us means that we suffer, we live, we learn together,” Alex says. “When someone advances, everyone has made that discovery. When someone really understands the material, they will teach us. They don’t keep it to themselves. They share it.”
And it’s not only a love for science that Alex’s cohort shares with each other.
“We go to cultural events together. We play sports together,” Alex says. “I have my first home wrestling match so I’m hoping to have a big CSS crowd come to that!”