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Physics graduate embraces opportunities in sciences, arts

Kaden Vasquez, a May 2024 physics graduate from Wichita Falls, came to ACU during the pandemic, a time of uncertainty for many. After his senior year of high school, he struggled to find the motivation to attend college in a world that was changing rapidly. 

Still, he knew he had a passion for learning, so he looked into ACU, the alma mater of his older sisters, Leksi Jo’lynn (Vasquez ’19) Martin and Addi Vasquez (’22)

Enrolling and engaging in college was challenging for many students in 2020, but Kaden wanted to make the most of his college experience, and he did just that by embracing his journey of self-discovery and growth.

Kaden chose to major in physics, despite knowing little about the discipline or field. 

“I chose physics not because I was good at it and had a plan, but because I was curious and wanted to learn something new,” he said. “ACU embraces the philosophy that anyone can do and be anything, so there I was, seeing if I could do this.” 

As the world began to open back up, he sought to embrace his undergraduate experience and immerse himself fully in the opportunities ACU had to offer. He joined Atom Smashers, a departmental research group; took on the role of president of the Society of Physics Students, a student-run organization that educates others about the sciences; presented research; and interned in the Nuclear Energy eXperimental Testing Laboratory, where he designed custom components for experiments

Beyond the classroom, Kaden studied abroad in Leipzig, Germany, where he took a course about the history of Western music and visited the home of the renowned pianist, Johann Sebastian Bach. He also worked at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory outside of Chicago, Illinois

Kaden also prioritized opportunities beyond his department. As an established filmmaker in his hometown, he honed in on his passion by submitting films to ACU Filmfest. He produced or collaborated on several award-winning short films, including Cookie Logic, an ACU Filmfest-funded film that won “Best Student Short” at the Boomtown Film and Music Festival in Beaumont, Texas. Through his work in film, he found community and embraced the power of storytelling and visual expression. 

“The many opportunities that ACU provided me are truly life-changing, and I’m glad that I chose a school that helps students learn about our passions beyond our fields,” he said. “If I could give any student a solid piece of advice, it would be to get involved and take advantage of the opportunities at your fingertips. You never know what you’ll discover, learn or create.” 

Like many students who enrolled in college in 2020, Kaden did not have an official high school graduation ceremony. So walking across the stage four years later was a momentous occasion for him. 

As he looks to the future, he carries with him the lessons learned, friendships formed and memories treasured. He intends to continue his education at the University of Wisconsin, where he will work toward a Ph.D. in medical physics and ultimately hopes to pioneer innovative technologies in oncology and cancer treatment. He also plans to continue sharpening his filmmaking and visual storytelling skills.

“ACU has been a huge blessing. I’m so grateful for every experience, every professor, every classmate and everyone who has invested in my education,” he said. “I came not knowing what to expect and left with so much more. This place has changed my life.”

– Senia Overstreet

May 23, 2024

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