First-Year Journey: Halen Carbonel '23 Plans for a Healthcare Career that Makes a Difference

Author: Shannon Rooney

Halen Carbonel’s academic interests are born of his experiences. 

When his father was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, Carbonel realized that his aptitude for science could lead him to a healthcare career, through which he could help advance treatment for people who suffer from diabetes. When he was admitted to Notre Dame, Carbonel enrolled as a pre-professional studies intent in the College of Science. 

Another difficult experience shaped his interest in conducting research on treatments for obesity.

Carbonel is an athlete—he represented his home country of Guam in the Junior World Golf Championship six times. He was captain of his school’s golf team and he teaches golf during summer school. But despite his athletic abilitiy and acheivements, Carbonel was bullied by schoolmates because of his weight. 

“It made me want to study obesity so I could do something about it,” he says. Carbonel lost weight for his health, but the experience of being bullied made him want to help others who struggle with obesity.

Halen Carbonel '23 (green hat and sweatshirt) with friends at a home football game.

As a first-year student at Notre Dame, Carbonel has stayed true to his path.

In addition to taking required courses—calculus is his favorite class right now—Carbonel is interested in learning about the day-to-day practice of medicine. He plans to shadow a sports physician over the summer and next year he’ll apply for a spot in the Puebla, Mexico study abroad program. Students in this program engage in a 3-credit hospital rotation that includes clinical shadowing and lessons about cross-cultural medicine. 

Carbonel is also part of the Science and Engineering Scholars program. He and his fellow scholars take classes in small cohorts and have access to special sessions, dedicated time with faculty, and relationships with mentors that support them through any challenges with tough coursework. 

“It’s a very supportive environment,” says Carbonel, who enjoys his classes and the group of scholars. 

Outside of class, Carbonel is active in the Pre-Professional Society and the Martial Arts Club. He also plays guitar when he has time. That particular hobby is important to him because it is one way he stays close to his family. Carbonel’s grandfather, who passed away in 2018, was a musician. Carbonel’s father is a musician too. He named his son “Halen” in honor of Eddie Van Halen and he began teaching Carbonel to play the guitar, piano, and drums at the age of five. 

Carbonel stuck with the guitar, and when he’s home, he plays in his dad’s rock band. He brought his grandfather’s guitar with him to Notre Dame, which helps keep his family close. Carbonel calls Notre Dame his “second home,” now that he is also part of the Notre Dame family. 

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