Alex Shaikoski ‘17, Biology

Posted on December 6th, 2017 by

Alex Shaikoski says that science has always been part of his household. His mom is a high school biology teacher, and Alex says that his family asks questions related to science around the dinner table and values the scientific process. Because of this, he believes that science is “part of who I am”. Alex has been accepted to graduate school for physical therapy after Gustavus, and hopes to use his interest in science to help people recover from physical injuries. He is particularly drawn to physical therapy because it can be a way for him to combine science with his love of sports, saying that “he gets to be a coach and help people”.

Alex has a varied set of talents and gifts. He says it’s often overlooked as a gift, but he’s “super tall!”. His mom uses this skill when they’re grocery shopping, as he can get things up high or deep in the refrigerator. Alex also has good perceptional skills and an organizational mind, which helps him in aspects of his life that require organization, like TETRIS. He also has a strong drive to succeed.

One of the most influential people in Alex’s life is his grandpa. Alex didn’t have a prominent father figure for some of his life. Many of his outdoor interests, including his passion to be in northern Minnesota, come from his relationship with his grandpa. From this relationship Alex has gained lessons about hard work from farming, and has many memories of fishing, hunting, and watching Timberwolves games. He says that they have a similar way in acting, as they are “both kind of snarky” and have an affinity for sarcasm. Alex attributes a lot of who he is to his grandfather and the dad who adopted him when he was six.

Alex is defined by his belief in God, saying that it “is the center of his life”. Everything that he does comes out of this belief, including how he does what he does. Alex tries to be very intentional in how he lives his life. He is bothered by “how people can act one way to one person and then a different way to another person”. Because of this, Alex strives to be the same person and who he really is to everyone, and not try to change who he is when interacting with any person. While his interests guide him in what he gets involved in, “Jesus and God is the center” and everything else stems from that core belief.

There are many beliefs that Alex believes are common in his scientific discipline. The biggest one he identifies is the idea that something isn’t true unless “it has been thought about, and then tested, and then reviewed by peers”. In other words, if something isn’t reviewed it isn’t reliable. Alex uses the example of two experiments: one where only one person does something and then claims it’s true and one where someone does something and then that something is tested by hundreds of people and validated. Only one of these results would be considered trustworthy by science. Another belief in his discipline is that we don’t necessarily have to see something for it to be true. An example of this is evolution, which we don’t witness but science accepts.

Science and religion interact in many different ways in Alex’s life. He decided long ago that he could accept both God and evolution. Alex thinks climate change is a big scientific issue that worries him as a Christian. He says that “there are so many people who are Christians and believe that the Genesis story gives dominion over creation to people”, and use this to say that it’s okay to do something if it benefits humans. The end result of this belief is that “we’re killing the earth for the sake of saving a little money”. Alex is scared by this, and believes that we should be green and make sure that people are being responsible with the Earth that humanity was given. There are also faith issues that scare Alex as he pursues science, including what happens after death. As a Christian, he believes that body and soul will be separate, but science cannot touch the issue and and Alex feels that there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding this.

Alex’s beliefs have changed in some ways as he has studied science. He came to Gustavus with the mindset of trying to consolidate what he believes in theology with what he knows with science, and he says it has been gratifying to build his theology based on science. Alex believes these two parts of his life have “become more interwoven” since he came to Gustavus. It’s important for him to be in the scientific field, but it’s more important to him to be faithful. Because of this, Alex thinks that it’s “really excellent” to see science and religion go together and both be affirmed in his life, so that he is living out his faith everyday.

Alex believes that his pursuit of his vocation is informed by his faith. He reads the Bible, and finds it very logical and sees it having a real impact on his life. Alex says he “hears about leprosy in Bible, and then learns about what causes leprosy in Biology class” and finds this interaction between his faith and science incredibly interesting. He says that it makes the story of the resurrection of Jesus more powerful when you consider with the scientific facts about death. In his words, “Jesus is like ‘whatever, Im’a do what I want’ and then lived”. Some people view science as killing the idea of miracles, but to Alex, miracles becomes even more real through science. When reading the Bible or thinking about his faith Alex is always looking for a way to make a connection to science, and he believes that he learns so much from both religion and science.

 

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