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‘Where I’m meant to be’

The third of four children, Alex Acosta talks about how the Carolina Covenant opens doors and provides support.

Alex Acosta

A native of Hendersonville, North Carolina, Alex Acosta ’24 had two main goals after high school: 1) Get a good education, and 2) Don’t go into debt for that education. The third of four children, Acosta had his heart set on Carolina after his oldest brother, Luis ’17, attended UNC.

“My brother had nothing but good experiences in Chapel Hill,” Acosta said. “He told me it was hard and challenging, but that was what I wanted, because my entire life, I’d worked hard in advanced classes. I knew that Carolina was where I wanted to be.”

When Acosta learned he ― just like his brother ― would receive the Carolina Covenant, the entire household celebrated.

“My first thought was, ‘Oh, snap!’” Acosta laughed. “I got home and told my parents, and we celebrated together, and then we called my brother, and he celebrated with us! It was a good moment.”

“My parents don’t make enough money to pay for my college out of pocket,” he continued. “I didn’t have anything to fall back on, so for me, it was either community college or no college at all. If it weren’t for the Carolina Covenant and the donors who support it, a great university education wouldn’t be on the table for me at all.”

Majoring in environmental health sciences with a minor in creative writing, Acosta was drawn to the field of public health because of its encompassing nature.

“Public health seemed more well-rounded than the other options I was considering,” he recalled. “When I found out I got into the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, I wanted to continue on that path.”

Acosta is active in the Rural Medicine Pathway Program, which is composed of Covenant Scholars from underserved rural populations who want to make a lasting impact in rural North Carolina health care. He is also a participant in the MacDonald Community Service Scholars program — meaning he’ll receive training, mentorship and support in pursuing his public service interests. And during his sophomore year at Carolina, he was a member of the Carolina Covenant Student Advisory Council.

“The council was very collaborative, and we got to work directly with the Covenant team to plan events for students and talk about ways to make the Covenant program better,” shared Acosta.

In his spare time, Acosta said he loves to read, write and think. “Most people who know me probably think I’m just this goofy guy,” he said. “I’m always making jokes. But, they don’t really know that I make a point to take an hour out of my day to just think and write.”

Upon graduation, Acosta hopes to become a pediatrician or family medicine doctor, once again following in his older brother’s footsteps.

“Luis is in med school at Carolina now. To see my brother do so well inspires me,” he said. “It feels like my calling as of now, but if I change my mind, I’ll have my public health degree.”

In the summer of 2022, Acosta participated in the Carolina Covenant Career Accelerator Program, which funded his research efforts with UNC Hospitals emergency medicine department. While working with emergency medicine researchers, Acosta investigated ways to improve psychiatric patient transport and EMS responses to pediatric calls. Acosta’s experience this summer strengthened his desire to work in the medical field.

“The Career Accelerator Program affirmed that I really want to become a clinician,” he said. “The way I was able to volunteer at events and network with those already in the field helped me realize that this is where I’m meant to be.”