From the South to the Midwest, Alec Ralph has his eye on the prize
Alec Ralph '24 knows quite a bit about rolling with the punches. The pre-med exercise science major didn't start his educational career at Hamline—he began nearly 1,200 miles due south, studying and playing football and baseball at a historically Black college in Houston, Texas.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Ralph was cut from the teams and his opportunities in Houston dried up. Though being cut was a blow, he was soon back up on his feet looking for his next steps. A high school friend who attends Hamline suggested that Ralph look into the school, and after speaking with a few professors and coaches, Ralph was hooked.
The hardest part of transferring was meeting new people and building connections all over again. But Hamline is all about community and inclusion, so it's been great."
"It was definitely different, due to it being colder. But I like the cold, so it was easy getting used to," he said with a laugh. "It's a smaller community, which I appreciate. We're able to grow and connect on a broader level, to learn and adjust and appreciate each others' backgrounds."
Despite his cross-country move, Ralph never wavered from his drive toward medicine. With a brother who studied kinesiology and a father who's a pediatric dentist, Ralph absorbed years of learning well before stepping onto a college campus.
"When I got into high school, I really wanted to watch how he operated his business," Ralph said. Pediatric dentistry is a nuanced field, he explained: "You have to be able to talk to the parents and make sure that they're comfortable with you treating their child. With an adult, you need just one person's permission, but with kids you're having to tell parents, 'You can trust me with your child.'"
Down the road, Ralph is in for a lot more learning: In five years, he hopes to be at Columbia University, studying pediatric anaesthesiology as inspired by his father. His goal at the moment is to earn a spot at an anaesthesiology internship at Memorial Hermann Medical Center in Houston.
Thanks to the community he's built at Hamline, Ralph has a strong support system at his back to help him achieve his goals, from Hamline head football coach Chip Taylor who helped Ralph "grow as a man," to chemistry professor Marc Scholten, who guided Ralph toward a path that worked for him in the pre-med track.
"Without connections, you'll be wandering down a hectic road to your degree," Ralph said.
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