UNCG Magazine

Willy Piña ’22

Willy Piña ’22 wants to be a plastic surgeon.

“What sparked my interest in that was: I used to volunteer at a hospital.” He saw, for example, cancer surgery may change one’s appearance, but surgery can afterward help create the appearance. “You know, I want to help sculpt their bodies until they’re comfortable with who they are, essentially.”

He’ll soon graduate with a biology major with a chemistry minor. 

“I find a lot of fascinating things within that spectrum, within these fields,” he said. “I like science.”

His favorite professors? “Cristina Moreira, she taught me genetics. She is a super-sweet lady. And Dr. Ayalew Osena, he’s really nice as well. I’m about to start doing a research lab under him – and hopefully go through the summer.”

Over the coming year, he’ll take a few more courses and study for his MCAT, as he prepares for med school.

Like many Spartans, he is a first generation college student – neither of his parents attended university. “I feel like other Hispanic kids that are also first generation here definitely understand the pressures” and can relate, he says. 

He began college at UNC Chapel Hill, then transferred to UNCG his second year. “One of the things that I really liked about this school was just how friendly everybody is.” Fellow students are not as uptight, he explains. “Here, I think everybody’s really level headed, really grounded.”

And he says when he or his friends have needed help with something, it’s there.

“I found that I’ve felt more rooted here. And I felt like the resources here have helped me a little better just because, I guess, it wasn’t such a big school. It’s more personal, in some aspect. And that’s something that I’ve enjoyed.”

By Mike Harris ’93 MA
Photography by Martin W. Kane

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