Meet Alex W., Rookie

Alex Wong, Human Biology
Class: Graduate Student
Hometown: Makawao, HI
Role: Rookie

Why is this humanitarian work important to you?

I count myself very fortunate to be a part of a program that is working towards creating a better tomorrow by recognizing that everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, and social status should have basic human rights. The many sobering and inspiring stories I’ve been introduced to while at UIndy have really put into perspective how little I know about the struggles that migrants and their families face when crossing the US-Mexico Border. Overall, the opportunity to potentially make a small difference in this movement by protecting human dignity and uplifting others in vulnerable positions is highly motivating.

What do you hope to gain from this experience?

From this trip, I hope to gain further insight into the sociopolitical environment in South Texas and the important role that these humanitarian groups play in changing immigration policies and preventing further migrant deaths. I also look forward to forming new relationships and further strengthening the bonds I have with my fellow Beyond Borders members. Upon returning from this trip, I would like to raise awareness to others outside of our program about the importance and necessity of the work being done by these organizations.

What are some of the biggest challenges you will face while in Texas?

The major challenges I will face while in Texas are adapting to the cultural differences, the language barrier, and the long days in the field.  I have no doubt each day will be an emotional, mental, and physical grind that will test me every step of the way. It will be important to be open-minded, maintain a positive attitude, and communicate effectively with my team members when times get tough. Nevertheless, I look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead.

What’s one thing people probably don’t know about you until they’ve known you a long time?

I am a huge sports fan, especially football, soccer, golf, and baseball. I also really enjoy fitness. If I’m not doing something anatomy or forensic related, I’m most likely heading to the golf course or at the gym to destress from graduate school life.  Finally, if you were wondering, my favorite professional football team is the New England Patriots, which is not ideal since I now live in Indianapolis.

When did you know when you wanted to pursue human biology as a degree, and how did you become interested in forensics?

During my freshman year of undergraduate, I took an introduction to biological anthropology course taught by the state archaeologist of Connecticut. On the first day of our class, he presented us with a fascinating historical case known as the Jewett City vampire burials (Google it!). This case was my introduction into the field of human osteology and forensic anthropology. Ever since that day, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in human biology!

What advice would you give other students interested in pursuing a human biology degree at UIndy?

The UIndy human biology program can be a long and arduous journey. That said, it is one that is extremely rewarding and memorable! The invaluable experience you will acquire in and outside the classroom is like no other graduate program. Furthermore, the close-knit professional relationships you will develop with fellow classmates and the professors is something you will always be thankful for.

What makes UIndy’s human biology program distinctive?

UIndy’s human biology program is distinctive because it provides students with cross-training in a wide array of disciplines ranging from anatomy, genetics, archeology, histology, forensic anthropology, etc. This multidisciplinary approach is a critical part of developing students into better scientists, anthropologists, educators, and overall people. It’s truly remarkable the different career paths that Uindy graduates have pursued following their tenure here. We certainly have strong ties in various academic and professional realms all around the globe!

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