Alex Jeon ‘19, Biology

Posted on March 19th, 2018 by

Alex first became interested in science when he was around six years of age and living in South Korea. Alex’s parents had a collection of biological, organismal, and animal documentaries, the “Nature” equivalent of Korea, and Alex would watch these films over and over again. Fascinated with the processes of life they described, he was able to observe how biological life moved and lived and he was captivated by the variety of clips he saw. He recalls one film in particular, on shellfish, where he learned how a certain type of clam moves by clamping its shell closed! From an early age, Alex had an appreciation for the question “how do organisms live, and how do they do what they do?”. He describes these films as his segue into science. Alex wants to use his Biological Science degree from Gustavus to get into dental school. His study of Biology is a step on his way to his ultimate goal of becoming a dentist.

The talents and gifts that Alex has include listening to others, music, athletics, and reading. He enjoys hearing others talk to him and listening to people talk in general, oftentimes more than he likes to talk himself. As an introvert, he finds it fascinating to hear what others have to say, and he is content to hear those words without always necessarily contributing himself. Alex has always enjoyed music, and has sung since he was a kid. Overall, Alex thinks of his talents as the things he enjoys the most. He loves to exercise, and his ability to pick up different athletic abilities such as throwing a football and learning to ice skate came naturally to him. Additionally, Alex can read very effectively, and is able to analyze and vividly remember just about every detail of what he reads.

The most influential person in Alex’s life is his older brother Andrew. As children, Alex and Andrew spent a lot of time together at home, and Alex grew up with his brother as a kind of second dad, a role model that he has always looked up to. He wanted to exhibit a lot of his older brother’s qualities. Andrew has influenced Alex by igniting similar interests in him. The things that he was passionate about, Alex tended to become passionate about. Initially Andrew got into music and singing, and eventually, upon joining choir in high school, Alex was able to explore music too. Andrew got Alex into exercising as well, and Alex reflects that he enjoys the activity so much because of the invitations Andrew gave to join him. Another way Andrew inspired Alex was to pursue pre-health. This step was Alex’s decision, but Andrew’s decision to pursue pre-health first gave Alex a push and an inner drive.

Alex has also been influenced by his mom and dad. From them, Alex has learned about his faith. His parents are very devout Christians, and read scripture often. His parents are also very open to Alex’s questions, and he finds their answers helpful, especially in making the connection between attributes of faith and Alex’s day to day life. He might come to them with a problem he is experiencing such as stress, and he finds that they are able to provide a passage from scripture, a metaphorical story, or analogy that is very reminiscent to his situation. This helps him by giving him a new way to view whatever situation he is in.

One belief that defines Alex is his desire to embody choices that manifest good. He says that everyday all face many decisions. When confronted with these decisions, one can either choose sin or not. Alex wants to choose God in every situation of his life, instead of choosing that which he knows to be wrong. A belief that defines Alex is his reliance on God to discern what is right. He views this belief through practical applications, such as choosing alternatives to everyday phenomena like negative or angry thoughts and stopping such thoughts from taking over his mind.

In Alex’s disciplines of dentistry and biology there are common beliefs he recognizes. In biology, Alex thinks that evolution and how it occured over billions of years is a very widely recognized belief. He sees the essential belief in dentistry as being the chance and opportunity to immediately see one’s patients improve their health. In many other professions, that immediate improvement is not often seen. This is one of the main reasons Alex chose to pursue dentistry. Such immediate health enhancement is very rewarding, and a way that one can affect the lives of people in the world. Additionally, everything in the human body is connected to the mouth in some way, and being able to promote the wellbeing of that essential part of the body is meaningful.

A scientific theme that scares Alex as a Christian, especially when it comes to issues like evolution, is the observance that in many ways one doesn’t need a “God” for processes to occur. He says that there seems to be a lot of evidence to support a perspective void of a Higher Power. However, Alex believes that the miraculousness of evolution working and producing the life on earth today could not “just happen” or occur without God. Despite this, it scares him that God could potentially not exist. Science makes him think about and deeply consider if all the evidence that seems to say that God doesn’t exist might be correct.

A biblical consideration that scares Alex in his pursuit of science are discussions of “end times” in scripture. Stories in the Book of Revelation about how the world is going to end and prophecies tend to stick in his mind. To Alex, a lot of these parts in the Bible relate to climate change and how the world is going to start to have problems such as natural disasters occuring, in addition to people falling into sin and choosing the wrong things. Alex feels that a lot of these phenomena are already starting to happen and so for him, knowing from scripture that the end of times may be starting to happen is disconcerting. This scares Alex, because he does not quite feel “ready yet” or think that he is necessarily exactly where he wants to be in his faith presently. Despite this, Alex’s parents have taught him that one shouldn’t be scared about this, but instead find serenity and peace in the idea that you are searching for God and that God loves you.

Alex’s beliefs have changed as he has pursued biology and dentistry. This pursuit has made him think more critically about how science and faith can go together. Before he became involved in science, he didn’t really doubt or question a lot of the things he grew up learning or his faith and how it connects to science. Pursuing a scientific vocation has made him think about how God could have caused everything, including processes like evolution, to happen.

On the whole, Alex’s pursuit of Biology and Dentistry is informed by his faith through helping others. To him, the health field means helping people, which subsequently means having empathy and the ability to connect with patients. This commitment to service manifests itself in helping people be well physically, and that is what drives Alex’s desire to go into the field of dentistry. He believes that a big part of faith is to love everyone and to share the love that one receives from God. Alex’s faith prompts him to help people through dentistry and to achieve this goal by studying Biology.

 

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