BS, BiologyAlexa Mieses already had dreams of becoming a doctor as a junior in high school. Then tragedy touched her life, sparking even more focus: to understand and prevent drug abuse.
When Ms. Mieses attended Bronx High School of Science four students died - three of drug-related causes. A sophomore she mentored was one of them, a victim of a heroin overdose.
"I wish I could have intervened earlier," she recalled. But the misfortune galvanized her with the idea to use drug interdiction to save lives.
This year, Alexa, who is a J.K. Watson Fellow, will graduate magna cum laude with a BS in biology. She is deferring medical school for a fellowship with the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore to examine behavioral and genetic correlates of drug addiction.
"That fire inside of me from high school is still burning," she said. "I want very much to look at addiction from a more professional and scientific point of view."
Her childhood in Queens also shaped her choices. Ms. Mieses recalls walking to a clinic where her mother was treated for type 2 diabetes. Fast food businesses, which serve the kinds of foods that contribute to the onset of the disease, lined the route.
Classes at City College later put a name to what was going on: health disparities. She became fascinated by their link to poverty and ethnicity. "That's what gives me such a great sense of urgency and the passion to do what I've done since I've been at CCNY."
She volunteers at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and tutors low-income children at the Champion Learning Center in Lower Manhattan. As the coordinator for the CCNY Minority Association of Pre-Health Students' "Harlem Take Care of Yourself" health fair, she helped increase attendance twenty-fold.
She also interned at the Bronx Zoo, the Gay Men's Health Crisis Center and worked with autistic children in Chile, as a Watson Fellow. Ms. Mieses was awarded the Outstanding SEEK Graduate of the Year Award this year; she is a SEEK Scholar and a SEEK mentor and tutor, and belongs to three honor societies. In addition, she shadowed a surgeon in private practice, conducted neuroscience research on eye movements and studied Spanish and art history in Spain.
Outside of school Ms. Mieses writes poetry and loves singing.
After her fellowship and medical school, Alexa plans to return to New York. "I hope to work with people in the same area I grew up, or the Bronx or Harlem, and have that in common with people I serve one day."
"That fire inside of me from high school is still burning. I want very much to look at addiction from a more professional and scientific point of view."
- Alexa Mieses