“Full-time nerd” with a fascination for good bacteria
Alex Vieira’s interest in biotechnology started when he moved to Denmark from France at the age of 17. Here he was introduced to probiotics and was thrilled by the effect. “It was amazing. It helped stabilize my stomach after partying,” he says and laughs. Alex was fascinated by ”good bacteria“, and the experience with probiotics led Alex to further investigate opportunities for a career in biotechnology.
However, it has not been a walk in the park for Alex to make a career of his passion. Alex moved to Denmark, when he was 17 years old, and started at the university a couple of years later. Due to significant concentration issues, he dropped out of his studies and was soon after diagnosed with a hidden disability, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and was told by his psychotherapist that he also had traits of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Even before Alex was formally diagnosed, he discovered ways to cope with his communicative and social challenges. He learned that daily routines allowed him to focus and stay healthy and happy.
Today, Alex is studying not just one, but two bachelor programs in Biochemistry and Computer Science, at Roskilde University, and is part of two voluntary groups, a mathematical research group and an international scientific research group. Science is undeniably one of Alex’s big passions and when asked to describe himself with three words, Alex answered: “Full.Time.Nerd.” with a big smile on his face.
Dorte admits she was a bit nervous about the internship initially but Alex’s contributions and positive mindset quickly proved it was the right decision to bring him on board. “It’s been such a great experience. Alex is very popular. Today, we can’t imagine not having Alex on the team.”
Dorte Fris Jensen quickly decided to offer Alex a permanent contract. “We definitely wanted Alex here permanently. There is a lot of work, and the tasks are extremely important for reaching our goals. Some of our chemists don’t have the time so it's a gift to have Alex do it. We don't have the number of hours that could lead to a full-time position, but this is actually quite practical, as Alex can then finish his studies before getting a full-time job, so it seems to fit perfectly,” Dorte says.
Today, Alex works six hours every week, which allows enough time for his studies and voluntary work. “I feel lucky to be given a chance to show my potential,” Alex says.
Being a Hansenite means being part of a family
To a lot of people, good colleagues are essential to thrive at work. According to Alex, colleagues are almost like an extended family: “Being a Hansenite… It’s like being part of a family,” he says. Alex furthermore explains how it gives him great joy to go to work: “From the beginning, it felt like a miracle to come here. If I’ve had a bad morning on the days when I come to work, I end up going home happy. It's just so fulfilling. I only have positive things to say.”
Alex is a member of the ‘Action Club’ in Chr. Hansen Denmark, who he recently went go-karting with. “Having fun and being social at work is very important, it’s part of the culture,” Alex says.
December 3 is UN’s International Day of People with Disabilities
Disability inclusion is an essential condition to upholding human rights, sustainable development, and peace and security. It is also central to the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind. The commitment to realizing the rights of persons with disabilities is not only a matter of justice; it is an investment in a common future.
Even under normal circumstances, persons with disabilities are less likely to access health care, education, employment and to participate in the community. An integrated approach is required to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind.
Reach for the stars
After finishing his studies, Alex dreams of working in the Research & Development department at Chr. Hansen in a full-time position. “I’m intrigued by the scientific mindset. Transmitting knowledge, understanding it and using knowledge is what makes our society progress so I will continue to reach for the stars,” Alex says.