Michael was raised by two Marines; he says being “a hardworking, loyal, and responsible citizen with a strong sense of duty to my community and country” is a direct result of their service. Throughout his childhood, whether his father was deployed or it was time to move, Michael always rose to the challenge, whether it was helping his mother care for his younger siblings or joining a new Boy Scout Troop (through his hard work he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout).
Through the eight moves he experienced, Michael developed a passion for the outdoors and protecting the environment. In his spare time, Michael volunteers at Mission Trails Regional Park, where he assists park rangers with trail maintenance and habitat restoration, as well as at the San Diego Safari Park’s bonsai pavilion. He’s also channeling that passion into his career choice – Michael wants to develop sources of renewable energy, specifically thermonuclear fusion.
Studying mechanical engineering at the University of California, San Diego has allowed Michael to pursue this dream. Through UCSD, Michael works at the Center for Energy Research, where he helps gather data on turbulence in plasmas and plasma-material injections. Plasma is a component in one method of research – the lab Michael works for shares their data with the International Thermonuclear Energy Reactor in France. A breakthrough in thermonuclear fusion would be an enormous source of renewable energy, helping preserve the outdoors.
Receiving his scholarship allowed Michael to quit his job as a waiter and focus exclusively on his studies and work in the research lab. It strengthens his education, as well as giving him the opportunity to pursue connections and work experience that will help him on his career path. Michael intends to continue his education in graduate school, potentially pursuing a PhD. Instilled in him by his Marine parents, Michael’s strong work ethic and ability to adapt to challenges will help him succeed in the future.
Hear Michael’s story in his own words below: