A Conversation with Minerva Student Carlos

Meet Carlos, a student in the Class of 2022 | Mar 30, 2021

Quick Facts

Carlos Rafael Garduño Acolt

Ixtapan de la Sal, Mexico


Major & Concentrations
Computational Sciences—Data Science and Statistic
Natural Sciences—Theoretical Foundations of Natural Science


Why did you choose to attend Minerva?
I decided to join Minerva because I am the kind of person who is always exploring, looking for challenges, and getting out of my comfort zone. I knew Minerva was a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity where I could experience a transformative undergraduate education while living in seven different countries with a group of smart, diverse, and highly driven students. Before Minerva, I always felt like I was studying and memorizing for the sake of memorizing. At Minerva, I am certain that I am investing my time and energy into learning and developing skills that are useful and applicable to multiple dimensions of my life. Looking back at the person I was three years ago, it is clear to me how much I have grown and evolved. I am grateful for the life I get to live, and I recognize Minerva’s role in this growth by helping me face the right kind of challenges and situations.

What are some of your passions and interests?
Just like many other Minerva students, my professional and personal interests are quite diverse. Specifically, I have always been interested in natural sciences and technology. Over the last few years, I have enjoyed learning about physics, nanotechnology, evolutionary biology, machine learning, and building computational models and simulations. Outside of the STEM fields, I am also interested in social justice movements, particularly queer and racial issues, as well as art and design. When I am not studying or working, you can find me walking around exploring the city, listening to music, making art, taking pictures, or a combination of those.

What do you aspire to do when you graduate? What is a problem you would like to address in the world?
In high school I thought I wanted to become a physicist but, after diving into other subjects, I realize I enjoy working on interdisciplinary projects. I feel the most excited when I get to analyze an issue through multiple lenses and points of view.

A problem I would like to solve is making science and technology more accessible for everyone. I firmly believe the world can be a better place if more institutions, governments, and communities make decisions and take actions based on scientific thinking and understanding. I am not 100% sure of what I want to dedicate my life to yet, but I do not think my professional journey will be traditionally linear. After I graduate, I would love to combine my interests in science communication, education, research, and technological development into my profession.

What do you enjoy most about being a part of the Minerva community?
What I like the most about Minerva is, for the first time in my life, I feel like I am part of a community that not only supports but celebrates all dimensions of my identity. It is very exciting for me to know I am part of such a diverse network of wonderful and proactive humans, who will help me pursue my goals and interests no matter what those are as long as they are doing good for the world. I am very grateful to be surrounded by such kind, loving, and intelligent people, who also want to make a positive impact wherever they go.

How has your experience at Minerva changed the way you view financial aid?
My experience with financial aid has led me to think about money in a different way. Now, I am more aware of how I spend my finances and, overall, I believe I have a healthier relationship with money. When I started Minerva, I saw financial aid as a requirement for me to attend the program. While this is still true, I also understand the financial aid process is an opportunity to learn how to navigate my life financially and securely. Additionally, I have also learned how to set appropriate and attainable goals and make smart choices that lead me to accomplish my pursuits.

How does Minerva’s need-based financial aid policy contrast with financial aid models back home?
Most of the schools in Mexico that offer financial aid are merit-based rather than need-based. I prefer Minerva’s need-based model as students are not ‘competing’ to be able to afford the program but, instead, the aid given depends on your family’s financial situations. This model allows more students, including me, to attend the program rather than having to rely on external financial help and also allows me to focus on my academic and personal goals.

What would you tell another student who is considering Minerva?
Anyone who thinks Minerva is the best fit for them should shoot their shot and apply. The application process is very different from most other universities, and it can even be quite fun. Nevertheless, I also think students should know Minerva is not easy. The experience will challenge you every day in ways you have never been challenged before. The last three years of my life have been the most fulfilling but also the hardest. At times, I have struggled trying to balance studying, keeping a healthy lifestyle, focusing on professional development, and moving to a completely different country every few months. Life at Minerva can and will be overwhelming at some points, but the learning and growth you see on the other side makes it all worth it.

How is Minerva shaping your future?
Minerva has completely changed and expanded my expectations and future goals. Before Minerva, I felt like my life path was already decided and that there was little room for me to explore and try different things. Now, I expect my future to be dynamic and ever-changing, and I know it will be that way because of the skills and mindsets I have and will continue to acquire as I finish my undergraduate experience. By helping me get into the necessary environments and networks, Minerva has helped me get on track for a brighter future than any other school I could have attended. A future in which I am the one who defines what happiness and success look like.

If you were inspired by Carlos’s story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will enable you to change the world, apply to join Minerva today.