By Jerry Grillo
For MacKenzie Carvalho, winning a 2022 Culture Champion Award from the Georgia Tech College of Engineering did not take any extra effort on her part.
“Kindness, staying curious, and positivity are things that I strive for in all aspects of my life,” said Carvalho, who is senior administrative professional in the academic office of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Bioengineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. “I’m grateful that I’ve been successful in bringing those goals to my work life as well.”
Her approach to life just happens to align with the culture that has evolved naturally in Coulter BME over its 20-plus years of existence, as she sees it.
“BME culture is all about supporting one another to the be the best versions of ourselves, so that our students and faculty can make a difference outside of our academic walls, as a collective team,” Carvalho said.
Then again, Carvalho has always managed to bring together her natural supportive inclinations into her work world. Her dream job since she was 10 was to do marketing for the Special Olympics, the international sports organization for people with intellectual and physical disabilities, a population of athletes that Carvalho said, “hold the true secrets to happiness and success. They teach us so much about staying present in the moment, finding humor, showing genuine love, and living authentically.”
So, it isn’t a great surprise that she did in fact work for Special Olympics and found herself, “on the receiving end of lifelong lessons and gifts by being surrounded by and learning from such wonderful people and athletes,” she said.
And Carvalho got even more in the bargain then she ever expected. She met her future husband, Raphael, a basketball coach. They now have two children, Cabe (15) and Léa Maia (13). After living in Raphael’s native Brazil for four years, the family moved back to Atlanta five years ago and Carvalho, who had been a stay-at-home mom, eventually rejoined the workforce.
Her role in the department’s academic office allows Carvalho to have a direct impact on that kind of team building. Describing her job as, “very fluid,” she works alongside different members of the BME staff and faculty, and with student groups, and various offices throughout the department.
“I’m always inspired by my colleagues and our staff as a whole with how dedicated and hardworking they are to keep our department at the top of our game, and I enjoy learning from faculty about their research and their labs,” Carvalho said. “I love observing the passion of our students and seeing them find the area of BME that speaks to them so they can move forward with their own strengths to help achieve new advancements in the field.”
Carvalho can relate to the spirit that she confronts and embraces each day at work because she’s always been a student of the world, always happiest when traveling, exploring new countries, and embracing new cultures. She once back-packed around the world for two years, on her own, visiting more than 30 countries.
“I learned so much about the people in the places I visited, but also learned so much about myself and how exposure to new experiences gives you a larger perspective of where the person in front of you may be coming from,” she said. “Traveling has taught me to stay curious about people, because you never know what their life experiences have taught them. We are all meant to be here together and learn from, and grow alongside, one another.”
Allison Lab Discovers Evidence of Multicellularity in Single Cell Organism
Microscale Single Cell Cancer Metabolism Research Earns Honor for Coulter BME Assistant Professor