We are proud to announce the second recipient of our spring 2015 scholarship, Alex Nielsen, a student University of Minnesota—Twin Cities, pursuing a career in medicine. Continue reading on to discover what inspired him to be an “inventor.”
Surrounded by scattered Legos and poorly drawn sketches of illogical machines, I knew what kind of person I wanted to be when I grew up. When asked, I always replied, “an inventor.” Inventors are people who work diligently, study the current methodologies, and are always trying to improve aspects of their craft and qualities within themselves. After drawing experience from multiple areas of life, I realized that I wanted to pursue my passions of being an inventor in the field of medicine, while simultaneously pursuing music production on the side. Today, my goals and values are directly informed by my desire to innovate new techniques, methods, and technologies to enhance science and improve the human condition.
My passion for collaborative music production and songwriting has driven my desire to pursue an innovative career in medicine. Although it may not appear to be prevalent, there are many creative individuals on campus with hidden talent. It wasn’t until I reached out to the music community that I began to discover my own identity. Words cannot describe the feeling of ecstasy following the creation of a beautiful song that seems to blend away any cultural differences. Each carefully emphasized syllable or melodic overtone diminishes barriers as the song progresses and gains power. Over the last five years, I have worked with people of different races, socioeconomic statuses, political affiliations, and cultural backgrounds to create a number of dynamic songs. The most important lesson that I have learned from the music-making experience is that some people's aesthetics and approaches to problem-solving are surprisingly congruent with my own, even if those people have extremely dissimilar lifestyles and worldviews. We had effective collaborations because we understood our roles, appreciated each other's perspectives, and challenged each other to find innovative solutions. The creative problem-solving and collaborative skills that I gained through the creation of music directly relates to the medical arena, where the synthesis of visionaries with brilliant minds ultimately improves patient outcomes through better differential diagnoses, techniques, methods, and technologies.
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All of the traits of an inventor have also been reflected throughout my community service and resonate with my goals of being a physician. As a volunteer, I have gained over 400 hours of valuable experience, interacting with diverse and often underprivileged populations in a wide range of community service projects since 2011. One of my most influential learning experiences happened with Habitat for Humanity, where I witnessed numerous families travel long distances for free bread because they were unable to attain any other food. Conversations with these families enabled me to gain insight into their plight and to empathize with them. I learned how to approach people with grace and sensitivity, and in return they were eager to share their life stories and struggles with me. My ability to quickly build rapport with strangers, particularly people who suffer from economic hardship and trauma, would translate well into a medical setting, where a proper diagnosis hinges on a physician's ability to communicate with a patient. In the ever-expanding field of medicine, the ability to obtain relevant information from a patient is as critical as being up-to-date with current medical terminology, diagnostic techniques, and research.
I am extremely enthusiastic about pursuing a career in medicine because it will enable me to work with a diverse array of people, from impoverished families to professional colleagues who have dissimilar backgrounds and life experiences, but share my goals of improving patient care in small communities. Having creative outlets has played an enormous role in my success in school, and it will continue to do so in the future as I explore new opportunities and make even stronger human connections. In the following year, I will be enrolling as a medical student to pursue my goal of becoming a physician. Having this scholarship would make a world of difference for me. Medical school is very expensive and lessening the financial burden of loans will allow me to focus more on my patients and give them the quality of care that they deserve.