Maria Rocio Torres

Only a few years since immigrated from Tijuana with her brother after her mother passed from breast cancer, Maria Rocio Torres wants to help people fight cancer.

Torres witnessed her mother and family suffered a lack of healthcare.

Vowing to help make sure that no other families had to miss cancer screenings and other care, Torres moved to the United States at age 17 and worked multiple jobs while she earned a master’s degree in public health at the University of Arizona.

Torres, who radiates love, respect, empathy, and compassion, wants to bridge medicine and public health to bring research and interventions to her people to prevent cancer.

To further her experience and education, Torres 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.

“The program offered [by Éxito!] during the five days exposed to the need in cancer research among Latinos.” Torres said. “PhD was an option upon my master's graduation, but now I am more empowered and determined to continue in research and integrate it with medicine.”

For those considering applying for Éxito! next year, Torres has this advice:

Éxito! is an amazing experience that has motivated and empowered me to pursue a doctoral degree in the coming years,” she said. “Good luck and take advantage of all the resources available to you.”