Pushing out of That Comfort Zone

Alex Kasznel poses in the library.

Photo by Carl Socolow '77

For Alex Kasznel '15, a full schedule means a full life 

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson 

Alex Kasznel '15 has never been one to coast through life. As a kid, he was an Eagle Scout, a science enthusiast, an amateur cook and a budding writer-musician who played guitar, bass, drums, trombone and ukulele. And today, he majors in chemistry and biochemistry & molecular biology, minors in music and tutors writing—and chemistry and music theory—on the side.

"I enjoy the hustle," he says. "It forces me, again and again, to leave my comfort zone and develop new skills."

That he does. Kasznel worked as a teaching assistant for a first-year science seminar at the start of his sophomore year—just months after he was a first-year, himself. He next seized an opportunity to perform original research sampling and analyzing groundwater along the Appalachian Trail with Associate Professor of Earth Sciences Peter Sak. 

And last summer, Kasznel took part in the 2013 Drexel University College of Medicine's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program, studying a biological process that allows DNA to be converted into protein. Kasznel also has stretched himself musically by taking trombone lessons and performing in the Jazz Band, Dickinson Improvisation & Collaboration Ensemble (DICE), the College Orchestra and the Catholic Church Choir.

And the budding novelist in him relishes the chance to tutor fellow students through the Multilingual Writing Center. "Working with a group of friendly and like-minded people at a job that allows me to share my love of writing is a hugely fulfilling experience," he says. 

In other words, for Kasznel, a very full, diverse schedule yields a very full life. 

"I really feel that one of the great things about this country is that you can be a chemist and also write a novel or put out a record," says Kasznel, who is considering a number of career fields, including pharmacy and patent law. "In my mind, there are a lot of opportunities still to be explored." 

As he does just that, Kasznel is quick to thank those who are helping him develop his considerable skills to the fullest. "Without scholarships, I would not have been able to attend Dickinson, so I am very grateful for their support," he says. "I promise that I will not let that education go to waste." 

Read more: 

Student Snapshots

Your Gifts at Work

Published Dec. 4, 2013