Hilmaris Centeno Girona

Coffee is life for Hilmaris Centeno Girona.

For many families in Puerto Rico, coffee is a childhood staple, and Centeno Girona has been an avid java drinker since childhood.

Now she’s brewing up a passion for solving cancer health disparities and improving health knowledge among Latinos. Currently, Centeno-Girona is a master’s degree student and a clinical research coordinator at the Comprehensive Cancer Center of the University of Puerto Rico.

Her research interest includes health disparities, cancer research, and social and behavioral sciences, in areas like colorectal cancer screening and liver cancer prevention.

To further her experience and education, Centeno Girona applied for the Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program.

The Éxito! program, led by Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez at UT Health San Antonio with support from the National Cancer Institute, recruits 25 master’s-level students and professionals each year for a five-day summer institute, optional internships, and ongoing networking and support to promote doctoral degrees and careers in Latino cancer. A recent study found significant increases in summer institute participants’ confidence to apply to a doctoral program and academic self-efficacy.

“This program has been life-changing for me,” said Centeno Girona. “I did not believe I had it in me and now I want to make a timeline to apply for a doctoral program, having now the resources thanks to [Éxito!].”