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2020_04_27_news_TECNUN-Master's-End-Project-at-Harvard-Medical-School

"It is important to have a lot of courage and patience.

The former student of the Master in Biomedical Engineering, Ángela Alarcón, is developing her Master's Thesis at Harvard Medical School.

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PHOTO: Communication Service
27/04/20 10:38 Communication Service

Angela landed in the United States in mid-August with very specific plans. There she was surprised by the COVID-19 crisis, and explains that everything was going great until Harvard closed its campus the week of March 9. "I think it was the first university in the U.S. to close its campus. And within a week all the American universities moved the teaching to the Internet. I'm still working on my Master's thesis from home and I'm looking forward to teledefending," says the former student.

As an American citizen, her idea is to stay "in the United States until she finds a full time job". Angela has been to many places in her life: Seville, St. Louis, Sao Paulo, Boston, Chicago and San Sebastian. She recognizes that she is fortunate, and that without a doubt she has grown more "when she has left her comfort zone, her home".

Alarcón acknowledges that living and working in different cultures and with diverse people has helped her to be more creative, compassionate, and also to understand different points of view. "What seems normal to one person may seem the opposite to another person from another country, and it's important to know that both are valid. I think when I return, I can encourage other students to step out of their comfort zone and try working or studying abroad. It's scary but worth it!" she continues.

That Harvard is one of the current references for knowledge is no secret, but experiencing it firsthand is something else, as the young engineer relates. Ángela knows she is fortunate and says: "I have been surrounded by some of the best scientists in the world. It's impressive the passion they have for their work and the effort they make to be the top. I would emphasize just that. Mediocrity does not exist here and it is very motivating to work with people who give their all."

But Angela knows that her experience at Harvard would not have been the same without everything she acquired at Tecnun. In fact, she highlights many aspects that go beyond the merely academic or professional, and says that the School, along with the spirit of Opus Dei, has helped her to sanctify her work and offer difficult moments to God. "Many times I had trouble understanding a program I was using, I got errors in the code, or I simply lost motivation, but I put a holy card I took from the oratory of Blessed Alvaro del Portillo at Tecnun next to my computer, and I began to pray to him to help me. And many times I managed to fix that mistake," he confesses. Alarcón does not forget what he learned during the Master's course either, and affirms that "above all the knowledge of Medical Image Analysis has helped him, since I work a lot with medical images".

The current situation has upset the plans of a whole planet. Angela had planned to defend the TFM at the end of May in San Sebastian and give herself a break before starting work. But everything went awry as soon as the coronavirus began to spread: "First, my residency in Boston was closed and I had to return to my home in St. Louis (Missouri), finish the TFM from here, and in the near future I will have to teledefend. As with many recent graduates, it is going to be difficult to look for work, as many companies have stopped hiring people during this pandemic. And then with the economic crisis it won't be easy either," he admits.

Even so, Ángela is optimistic: "We have to continue with a lot of courage and patience! At the same time, with her feet on the ground, she is able to relate the situation there, and says that at first people did not take it seriously. "It was only when the universities and bars closed that people around me started to become aware. Even so, you can still go out to the parks and walk around. In St. Louis, at least, because in NYC it's a different story." The good thing about St. Louis is that "in general the houses are quite separate and have gardens, and with the spring weather, you can handle the quarantine quite well.

As is the case in Spain, Angela explains that people use their imagination to continue to maintain relationships, such as meeting in a parking lot in their cars or happy hour via zoom. "I have a friend who spent her birthday in quarantine, and all the friends went in their cars to her house and honked and sang happy birthday," she recalls.

Finally, Angela sends a message of reassurance to her colleagues: "I don't see people being afraid here. Americans in general are generous people and try to help and encourage those in need," she concludes.

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