It wasn’t BrazilianÂ Márcio Von Muhlen’s choice to come to the United States initially, but after being here for a while with his parents, going back home was not in his plans.
“I was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil which is at the very south part of Brazil, close to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay and I came to the United States when my parents got a job here at the beginning of high school. So that was about eight years ago and it really wasn’t my choice to come here,” he says.
“Then once I was finished with high school the option came to stay here and then my dad moved back to Brazil, but I decided to stay primarily because of the education opportunities and knowing that I could attend a great university like UC Berkeley where I could have an incredible opportunities that I would not have had in Brazil,” he says.
Aside from his regular classes, Márcio along with two other bioengineering students have worked in a lab on a medical device called the MicroJet injector. The device functions as a hypodermic needle, administering drugs but without the pain.
He says the research project has afforded him opportunities that empowered him to achieve success.
“The UC Berkeley campus is a very beautiful campus and I really really like it here. Some of the things that I have enjoyed here, well as crazy as it sounds, I’ve enjoyed going to class and learning things and becoming a trained bio-engineer and having the skill set that I do now where I feel that I can approach difficult problems and make advances on them,” he says.
“One great thing about UC Berkeley is that because it is such a world famous research institution there are all kinds of research projects available for undergraduates to work on which I think is uncommon.
“You wouldn’t see that in other places, but I was afforded the opportunity to work on this project and I even got paid to do it through a program that the department of bioengineering called the Summer Bioengineering Research Program where they basically give you a living stipend so you can hang around campus and be in the lab and get acquainted with a research project and see what research is all about and see if you like it,” he says.
Márcio says by working on the project not only did he gain experience, but a few accolades too.
“Most people don’t have quite as much success as I did, but my project went really well so I stayed with it and it has gotten me and the two others on this project very far.
“We have won all kinds of awards and we have traveled to conferences so it has really paid off for me to kind of take that next step and not just be satisfied with the classes and the core curriculum that I had to take coming to Berkeley to graduate, but going a step beyond and putting that extra time outside of class to achieve success on the research project.”
When it comes to being a foreign student coming to the United States for an education Márcio says.. “Coming to the U.S. is a wonderful, wonderful experience and most definitely worth it.”
“It is very tough at first when you get here and you don’t really know what is going on, but at the same time there are always people who are ready to welcome you here,” he adds.
“In the United States everywhere I have gone there has always been people there who welcome foreigners and do their best to extend a welcome invitation to people like me…to immigrants because this is a nation of immigrants and sometimes people don’t realize it, the ones whose parents were born here…, but if you look back far enough pretty much everyone who is here now is an immigrant,” he says.Â
“So when people realize that they don’t fear more immigrants they just welcome one more and so expect to work hard, expect to face challenges that you would not have faced at home, adapting to the culture, finding out how values can be very different here than they are other places, not saying that they are better or worse, they are just different and you have to get used to them,” he also adds.Â
“Not necessarily incorporate them into your own life, but just be able to deal with it and then you will be fine,” he says.
“Especially the research universities that’s what I am familiar with because I am attending one it is a wonderful place and a great opportunities and there are no need to worry to much about not succeeding because if you just come with dedication, with heart and what an open mind you will be fine and you can achieve great things here especially if you come from a less economic development country you probably wouldn’t be able to achieve if you didn’t come here.”