group photoSince its launch in 2011, about 126 master’s-degree-level students or health professionals have participated in Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training, a doctoral degree and cancer research training program led by the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio.

Below are the inspiring stories of their lives, what led them to Éxito!, and their futures as potential doctoral students and cancer control researchers.



“The [Éxito!] summer institute provided me with future colleagues and friends that I know I can rely on and push since we all want to see each other succeed. I feel confident that I can get into a PhD program,” Acuna said.

Éxito! has empowered me to be the strong Latina that I am in all places,” Aguilar said.

“I think [the Éxito! summer institute] has made me more confident about competing with other doctoral candidates,” Garcia Alcaraz said.

“[At Éxito!], it was empowering knowing such amazing people that are at the same place as me,” Ramos Cartagena said.

Éxito! has instilled in me the self-confidence I needed to continue pursuing my goals and has motivated me to be confident in myself and in my abilities. It picked me up when I felt like I was falling down,” Rubio Correa said.

“I feel more knowledgeable about how to go about the process of pursing a doctoral degree. Enlightened, [Éxito!] taught about new topics and concepts that I either did not know about or knew very little about,” Costa said.

Éxito! has changed my entire perspective on what a successful individual looks like,” Dionicio said.

“[Éxito!] made me realize how valuable and important we are in the research world,” Flores said.

“This program has been life-changing for me,” said Centeno Girona.

Éxito! helped Gonzalez “see the value in our personal narratives,” she said.

“[Éxito!] switched my gears in how I’ll be using my resources towards my next degree,” Guardado said.

“I think the [Éxito! Summer] Institute provided me the opportunity to learn about authentic mentorship,” Jauregui said.

Lozano said the Éxito! Summer institute provided a “very important role” in guiding the next steps in her career.

“[Éxito!] reaffirmed “that I am capable of pursuing a doctorate and there is a Latinx community in which is or will be on the same journey and has similar experiences in academia and life,” Marin said.

“The Éxito! summer institute has motivated me to apply for Spring 2020 admissions,” Cantu-Pawlik said.

“The [Éxito!] Summer Institute gave me the confidence, tools, and motivation I need to start narrowing down my research topic, potential mentors and schools, and take on the doctoral application process,” Reyes said.

“The [Éxito!] summer institute played a key role in preparing me for PhD applications,” Reyes said.

“The [Éxito!] program was empowering and allowed us to share our journey. Some of us had external or internal barriers and others had both. To see we all ended up in the same space wanting the same common goal was liberating,” Rodriguez said.

Silva said Éxito! guided the next steps in her career by “building my confidence and knowledge in applying to a doctoral program.”

“The [Éxito!] Summer Institute provided me with the tools, encouragement, and empowerment to take the next steps and make the necessary moves to put me in a good position to apply and succeed in a doctoral program.”

“The program offered [by Éxito!] during the five days exposed to the need in cancer research among Latinos.” Torres said.

“I am filled with love and gratitude for the [Éxito!] experience and to be surrounded by people with shared interests,” Valdivieso said.

“[Éxito!] has made me feel more confident in applying to a doctoral program when that time comes in a few years,” Villarruel said.

“I feel more prepared and confident to fill up the application forms for the admission to the doctoral programs, to the scholarships, and how to write a good personal statement,” Santiago Yance said.

“This Éxito! Summer Institute gave me the confidence to begin planning for a career in research,” Zamora said.


“I think the program works because the staff makes everything very personal and individual. You don’t feel invisible. You feel important and appreciated for who you are.”

“I really appreciate all the information that was provided during the [Éxito! summer] institute, it allowed me to see that I can apply for a doctoral program. I also felt I gained more family and a greater support network in the staff and participants,” Bonilla said.

“If your interest is to complete a doctoral degree or you have doubts about doing it or not, Éxito! will clarify all your concerns and give you the motivation and confidence to do it.”

“This program will provide you guidance and the tools needed to continue your education and the next steps in your career. ¡Si se puede!”

Cervantes said the Éxito! summer institute provided “another means of support and guidance” in her efforts to promote Latino health.

“The [Éxito!] summer institute allowed me to connect with others that had similar backgrounds and obstacles (cultural, gender, financial, etc.) and a similar interest of how health and culture can either mitigate or increase disparities; wanting to further our education despite not knowing many (or any) others that have obtained a doctoral degree,” said Cordero.

Cruz recently graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with a master’s degree in toxicology.

Matos-Cunningham, credits The Éxito! summer institute for her “increased confidence.”

“This program was incredible in giving us all the tools we needed to successfully apply to doctoral programs,” said Dias.

“Do it! Don't be afraid! I was a little uneasy about what to expect, especially since I'm prone to anxiety as it is. But attending was a great decision, and it was helpful to push me to reevaluate what I want to do, what I want to research, and how I'm going to get there.”

“The [Éxito! summer institute] motivated me and showed me that it is possible to overcome many barriers in pursuing a doctoral degree,” Garcia said.

“I really enjoyed hearing from Latinx speakers in the field,” Ballesteros-Gonzalez said. “It motivated and made me feel like I too can make it.”

Juarez said the Éxito! summer institute was “a great experience.”

“Participating in [the Éxito! summer institute] was extremely helpful in planning the next steps of my career,” Landa said.

“I think the [Éxito!] summer institute allowed me to connect with peers and professionals in the field who can become part of my support system as I apply to a PhD program and continue on with my career,” said Marquez.

“I think the most important thing that helped me decide to apply to a doctoral program was knowing that everyone’s path is different, but con esfuerzo todo es posible.”

“I am grateful for the incredible opportunity to learn from great speakers and peers at the [Éxito!] summer institute,” said Garcia-Medina.

“[The Éxito!  summer institute] encouraged me to pursue my doctoral studies,” Muñoz said.

“[The Éxito!  summer institute] brought me back to the idea of getting the PhD and it provided tools to actually help me get started,” Ochoa said.

Éxito! truly motivated me and really reinforced my path towards a doctoral program.”

“I loved the [Éxito!] summer institute,” Alfaro-Perez said. “Such an informative training filled with intelligent people.”

“The [Éxito!] summer institute gave me confidence and motivation to apply to a doctoral program,” Rios said.

“One thing Éxito! will make you realize is the importance of finding mentors and sponsors, so start now.”

“The [Éxito!] summer institute definitely put the gear in drive in applying for doctoral programs,” Sanchez said.


“[Éxito!] had a primary role in guiding me toward my next career goals,” she said. “I was unsure of myself and I gained the confidence and tools to successfully apply and get accepted into a doctoral program.”

“The [Éxito!] summer institute has given me the motivation to pursue a career in the field I love, public health,” Baez said. “There are many things that I had no idea about, but now know, because of the [Éxito!] summer institute.”

Éxito!  helped me realize that I am not alone, when it comes to a family that doesn't understand what it is I do,” she said. “It helped me see that many of my obstacles are the same as the other participants.”

“The [Éxito!] summer institute has motivated me to seek a doctoral program that fits my career interest,” she said. “The institute made me realize that my career as a researcher is a journey and that I should enjoy it.

“The [Éxito!] summer institute motivated me to take concrete steps towards applying to doctoral programs” 

“I went in unsure of what the process was actually like of applying, being in, and after graduation, but Éxito! answered a lot of the questions I had,” she said. “I am in a better standing now of making an informed decision.”

“It has given me the tools and the resources to apply to a doctoral program.” 

“[The Éxito! summer institute] motivated me a lot,” Peña said. “Seeing people like me interested on a PhD reinforce my belief that I can do it. I feel more supported.”

“Éxito! really provided me with the tools and confidence to pursue a PhD,” she said. “I have thought about possibly obtaining a PhD in the past but attending this program really confirmed my aspiration to pursue higher education and focus my research to one day being in cancer health disparities.”

“The [Éxito!] Summer Institute has played a support role unique to the support I have now in applying for a doctoral program.” 

“The [Éxito!] summer institute served as a motivator for pursuing a PhD,” Guzman said. “I felt like I had the support I needed to apply and succeed in a PhD program.”

“[Éxito! summer institute] taught me how to take the steps in to getting a doctoral degree,” Leon said. “It taught me how to financially cover all of the expenses, which was my biggest worry.” 

“It can be very overwhelming to think about all the steps to get there. The presenters’ personal stories and advice for moving forward really made the biggest impact.”

Massuh thanks the Éxito! summer institute for “motivating me to pursue higher education and inspiring me that anything is possible.”

“The [Éxito!] Summer Institute taught me so much about the process of applying to PhD and MD programs” 

“The [Éxito!] summer institute made me realize that it is possible for me to obtain a doctoral degree regardless of the barriers that we encounter,” Garcia said. “I truly believe I will apply to PhD programs in the future.”

“The [Éxito! Summer Institute] has changed my mindset from one of thinking that I might not be able to do it, to one that knows I can” 

“The [Éxito!]  summer institute has helped me better understand the benefits and challenges of pursuing a PhD program"

“After spending a week listening to inspiring stories of other students that have had some of the same obstacles as I have, I feel like I'm not alone"

“[The Éxito!  summer institute] helped me view myself within the bigger context of other Latino students,” Perez said. “It helped me know and feel that I am not alone in this pursuit, there are others interested in my success.”

Éxito! encouraged me to look at my strengths; it let me see the uniqueness of my experiences as my way to stand out for better, not worse,” 

“[Éxito! summer institute] helped me realize that by obtaining a doctorate degree I will be in the place of actually doing what I love and would like to do on everyday basis.” 

“Prior to coming to Éxito!, I was unaware of the plethora of information offered to master’s-level graduates. Go in with an open mind. You will not be disappointed.”

“I think [Éxito!] has made me feel more sure of my choice to pursue a doctoral degree” 

“[The Éxito! summer institute] provided valuable information and a network of support I did not have before” 


“The [Éxito!] summer institute provided experiences and information that motivates me toward completing this next step [of getting a PhD].”
Marisabel lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“[Éxito!] was an amazing experience and by the end I felt completely encouraged to pursue a PhD. If it wasn’t for this program I probably would’ve considered stopping at my master’s degree.”
Karen lives in Chicago.

“[Éxito!] has just confirmed that I am in the right path to continue with my dreams for higher education levels.”
Maria lives in New York, NY

“The [Éxito!] Summer Institute provided a plethora of information and made the idea and math of pursuing a doctoral degree much clearer.”
Gabrielle lives in Houston.

Éxito! provided me with additional information about career paths yet to be explored in addressing cancer health disparities, potential doctoral programs, but most importantly a strong network of current and future Latino leaders.”
Chavez lives in Berkeley, Calif.

“The [Éxito!] Summer institute has helped me feel that I am not alone. We are all struggling through different hardships but as long as we do not give up, we can achieve our goals.”
Cruz lives in Kansas City, Kan.

Éxito! has given me a jump start.”
De Jesus lives in New Haven, Conn.

“[Éxito!] has provided me with a more narrow focus. That is, before my questions were all over the map, now I feel confident I know the exact questions I need to answer in order to purse my academic goals.”
Diana lives in Tampa, Fla.

[Éxito!] has given me the confidence” to apply for a PhD program.
Shayda lives in San Antonio, Texas.

“I think [Éxito!] encouraged me to seriously consider applying to a doctoral program.”
Noemi lives in Huntington Park, Calif.

“The Éxito! Summer Institute has definitely boosted my confidence in pursuing a doctorate degree and career in research.”
Frutos lives in Reading, Penn.

“[Éxito!] definitely helped me make a decision regarding my future. I was debating with myself as to whether or not I would pursue a doctoral degree because I was not sure what I would focus on.”
Richard lives in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

“The [Éxito!] Summer Institute confirmed my interest in cancer research and helped me realize that a lot of the barriers I thought I had in possibly pursuing a doctorate degree were self-imposed.”
Angela lives in Jersey City, N.J.

“The [Éxito!] Summer institute provided excellent tools and resources that will help me apply for competitive doctoral programs with confidence.”
Hernandez lives in San Antonio, Texas.

“Hearing personal stories from the [Éxito!] presenters was really inspiring and motivating for me.”
Stephanie lives in Austin, Texas.

“The [Éxito! Summer] Institute provided concrete tools which make the process of applying and obtaining a PhD attainable.”
Yadira lives in Chicago.

“[Éxito!] sparked the interest again of wanting to pursue my PhD.”
Zandra lives in San Antonio, Texas.

“The [Éxito!] summer institute has inspired me to believe in all possibilities. I am more than ever convinced that a dual MD/PhD is more than possible.”
Jose lives in Las Vegas.

“[Éxito!] boosted [my] self-confidence.”
Rivas lives in Las Vegas.

“Meeting a community of talented individuals with similar aspirations and drive has truly reinforced my interest in furthering my education.”
Jackeline lives in Pomona, Calif.

“The [Éxito!] program increased my interest in cancer health disparities rates and methods to combat issues.”
Rosie lives in Bellflower, Calif.

“[Éxito!] reassured me that I don’t have to put off personal goals while pursuing a doctorate.”
Jacklyn lives in Colton, Calif.

Éxito! increases the amount of tools, role models, and support for seeking a doctoral degree and a career in cancer research.
Rosario lives in Verona, Missouri.

“[Éxito!] gave me much more confidence about applying for a doctoral degree. We can do it!”
Paloma lives in Springfield, Mass.

Éxito! is an awesome program. Apply and it will make a difference in your future.”
Mercedes lives in El Centro, Calif.


"The [Éxito!] summer institute provided me with additional role models, skills & motivation to continue my education,"summer institute gave me more confidence in my ability to apply and get accepted in a doctoral program."
Diana lives in Long Beach, Calif.

"[Éxito!] provided me with additional role models, skills & motivation to continue my education,"program gave me motivation to continue to pursue a degree in cancer research."
Alexandra lives in Carson, Calif.

"[I] really enjoyed the [Éxito!] provided me with additional role models, skills & motivation to continue my education,"program, it opened my eyes to other cancer research interests. [I] got informed about applying, funding and getting through a doctoral program."
Jasmin lives in Houston, Texas

"[Éxito!] has provided me with additional role models, skills & motivation to continue my education."
Breann lives in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

"Éxito! has provided incredible confidence to: research programs, inquire about programs - to be critical about choosing the right program and mentors."
Nancy lives in Worcester, Mass.

"Éxito! helped me believe in myself; I no longer see my perceived barriers as reasons "why not" they are just challenges I will have to work past."
Andrea lives in San Antonio, Texas

"[Éxito!] has made me more confident that I can successfully obtain a PhD. [It's an]outstanding program. [I'm] extremely grateful for this experience."
Krystal lives in Gardena, Calif.

"[Éxito!] definitely has motivated me to pursue a PhD after my masters when it previously wasn't a thought."
Andrew lives in Ontario, Calif.

"[Éxito!] definitely made me realize how marketable Latinos in research are, because there is a need for us. Thank you for the opportunity and or the great experience!" 
Jazmin lives in Anaheim, Calif.

"Éxito! has helped me realized how much I already knew about research financial opportunities, the process of applying and going through a doctoral program. Gracias for putting such an amazing program together."
Patricia lives in Tampa, Florida

"The role Éxito! provided was giving me the confidence and providing a support system for applying to a doctoral degree."
Monica lives in Downey, Calif.

"Thank you for the thoughtfulness into the programming [Éxito!] has been the BEST institute I've participated because I felt at home."
Sigolène lives in Santa Cruz, Calif.

"[Éxito!] is a geat program! Excellent sessions! Éxito! covered all the tools needed to apply for a doctoral program.."
Angie lives in Hyattsville, Maryland

"The [Éxito!] program enabled me to consider PhD possibilities that otherwise I would have not thought about."
Juanita lives in Ponoma, Calif.

"[Éxito!] made the idea of a DrPH more plausible."
Eva lives in New York City, New York

"This [Éxito!] program gave me tremendous insight into the path leading up to and beyond a doctoral program. Before the program I contemplated going for a PhD program, now I am not only planning, but feel strongly that I will succeed in a PhD program."
Natalicio lives in San Diego, Calif.

"[Éxito!] has given me confidence to try to go further in my education. I know I'm not alone in my journey or my fears."
Erika lives in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

"Éxito! has ignited and solidified my decision of applying to a doctoral program in the near future."
Rose lives in San Antonio, Texas

"I knew I was going to apply, I was just worried about the process."
Nancy lives in Costa Mesa, Calif.

"The [Éxito!] summer institute has provided tips and tools to carry me on my path as a researcher. Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to attend the program and for setting up all the activities and presentations."
Angelina lives in Delhi, Calif.

"The [Éxito!] summer institute was a fantastic opportunity. Now I feel I have important information and skills to attend and complete doctoral studies but valuable information to know for each stage of my career."
Cristina lives in Delhi, Calif.


Benjamin Aceves said he learned a lot about cancer and doctoral programs at the Éxito! Summer Institute, and it has given him “the confidence to succeed.”

Benjamin lives in Bloomington, Calif.

“[Éxito!] has definitely motivated me and instilled self-confidence in me. More importantly, Éxito! has empowered me that despite my minority status, I can attain a PhD.”

Brianda lives in Bellflower, Calif.

Jose Arrezola

“Attending the [Éxito! Summer] Institute has given me the tools to pursue my future career in research, cancer, and academia.”

Jose lives in Fresno, Calif.

Alexandra Conde Toro

“Éxito! has provided me with the direction and guidance on applying for a doctoral program, and they help answer many of my questions and doubts regarding the process of applying.”

Alexandra lives in Santa Rosa Bay, Puerto Rico.

Hena Din

“The experience I received through the Éxito! Summer Institute gave me confidence and inspiration towards my future career goals.”

Hena lives in San Diego, Calif.

Vanessa Estrada

“After the valuable information provided to us [at Éxito! Summer Institute], I feel more confident about applying to a doctoral program. I feel I have the skills and knowledge to succeed.”

Vanessa lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Mitzy Gonzalez

“Don’t let the words, ‘can’t’ or “I’m not adequate enough,” stand between you and your calling. The world needs you!”

Mitzy lives in Carraboro, N.C.

Angela Gutierrez

“I often feel like I am in imposter in academia regardless of my publications and teaching experience. The [Éxito!] program has demonstrated people like me have made it and it makes me feel I can too.”

Angela lives in Baldwin Park, Calif.

Alicia Nunez

“The Éxito! Summer Institute has played a significant role in terms of providing me with instrumental support to apply to doctoral-level education.”

Alicia lives in San Diego, Calif.

Christina Olson

“[Éxito!] has made me see that there are so many possibilities with a doctoral degree. I think I will pursue higher education.”

Christina lives in San Diego, Calif.

Maritza Pulido

“[Éxito!] gave me a picture of how academia, culture, and research work and will play into my career.”

Maritza lives in San Francisco, Calif.

Valerie Quinones-Avita

“I had the opportunity of bonding with fellow participants, sharing our interest, goals, fears, and inspirations.”

Valerie lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Mia Ramirez

Ramirez said the Éxito! Summer Institute inspired and motivated her, with great activities and diverse opportunities to learn, reflect, and network: “The Summer Institute has given me a confidence booster."

Mia lives in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Kaylee Rivera

“[Éxito!] has motivated me and shown me that it is possible to complete a PhD. It has also helped me reduce self-doubt.”

Kaylee lives in Long Beach, Calif.

Griselda Rubio

Rubio said the Éxito! Summer Institute is “informative first and foremost, and then motivational, inspirational, and encouraging. I am so grateful for this program.”

Griselda lives in Laredo, Texas.

Atenia Ruiz

“This program has definitely strengthened my reason to apply to a PhD program.”

Atenia lives in Las Vegas, Nev.

Eduardo Santiago-Rodriguez

“Before coming [to the Éxito! Summer Institute], I made a list of questions I wanted to get answered about the application process and how to prepare for that. Now I can say all of them were answered.”

Eduardo lives in Naranjito, Puerto Rico.

Beatriz Sosa Prado

“I am convinced I belong in a PhD program because I have what it takes. I know I am needed in my community, and I need to represent them.”

Beatriz lives in Los Angeles, Calif.

Jacquelyn Toledo

“This program is phenomenal. I want to replicate it and adapt it in my region. It has cleared a lot of ambivalence I had about pursuing a doctoral degree.”

Jacquelyn lives in Worcester, Mass.


Sandra Acevedo

“Attending the Éxito! Summer Institute helped me realize that obtaining a doctoral degree is attainable, and I now have the confidence in myself to take that next step towards my educational career.”

Sandra lives in Torrance, Calif.

Monica Aguilar

"The [Éxito!] Summer Institute is a great program that has provided me with the tools and motivation to pursue a doctorate in public health."

Monica lives in Downey, Calif.

Lani Alcazar

After attending the 5-day Éxito! Summer Institute, Lani Alcaraz felt she was equipped with the resources and professional networks to successfully apply to a doctoral program.

Lani lives in Houston, Texas.

Lizette Álvarez

Éxito! training helped Lizette Álvarez become more confident in her ability to successfully apply to and complete a doctoral program.

Lizette lives in Downey, California.

Alelí M. Ayala-Marín

After attending the Éxito! Summer Institute, Ayala-Marín believes her goal of becoming a behavioral researcher investigating cancer prevention and control is obtainable, and has the tools to enter a doctoral program.

Alelí lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Johana Bravo

Bravo said Éxito! provided her with beneficial information about different research fields within cancer health disparities and the encouragement needed to make the next steps toward a career in research and a doctoral degree.

Johana lives in Mission, Kansas.

Christina Carmona

“Being part of Exito! has helped me realize that I can be successful in a doctorate program no matter my skill set, as long as I have the dedication to finish what I have started and I utilize the resources around me.”  

Christina lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Margarita Chavez

Éxito! has given Margarita Chavez more confidence in her ability to obtain a doctoral degree and an increased interest in Latino cancer health disparities research.

Margarita lives in Albuquerque, N.M.

Sanae El Ibrahimi

“It was heartwarming to interact and network with other Éxito! participants. It was also empowering to hear experiences and stories of the challenges and successes of professionals in the field.”

Sanae lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Starla Garcia

“Being part of Éxito! has help me realize how strong and connected Latino communities can be. I have learned how much we are able to pull together through hardships and help one another overcome challenges.”

Starla lives in Houston, Texas.

Nicolas Lopez

“Éxito! helped to understand the importance and need of increasing the number of Latino doctoral students, and how we Latinos should be more involved on projects related to cancer research.”

Nicolas lives in San Diego, California.

Melissa Martinez

Éxito! helped Melissa Martinez feel empowered and armed with the tools needed to network with potential colleagues and mentors and consider pursuing a doctoral degree.

Melissa lives in Caguas, Puerto Rico.

Isaura Otero

The Éxito! Summer Institute gave Isaura Otero tools to become a better doctoral candidate and researcher. She now has greater confidence in her ability to apply for a program and confidence she will do so in the next few years.

Isaura lives in Bayonne, N.J.

Aíxa M. Pérez-Caraballo

Participating in Éxito! helped Aíxa Pérez-Caraballo feel she has a better grasp on the skills needed to apply to and complete a doctoral program, and stoked her excitement about a career in epidemiology.

Aíxa lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Mariana Ramirez

“I was able to meet wonderful people from across the U.S. and learn about their various research projects. In such a short time we were able to form strong connections and now count on each other as a valuable resource in our careers.”

Mariana lives in Shawnee, Kansas.

Wendy Ramirez

“Through the Éxito! program I have learned the personal barriers I may encounter and how to overcome them. It was by far one of the best summer programs I have attended and the staff/mentors are amazing.”

Wendy lives in South Gate, Calif.

Melissa Rodriguez

After attending the Éxito! Summer Institute, Rodriguez said she is now more confident that she will pursue a doctoral degree and pursue a career in cancer research.

Melissa Rodriguez lives in Bronx, N.Y.

Vinerys Rodriguez

After attending the Éxito! Summer Institute, Rodriguez was more confident in her decision to pursue an advanced degree in nutrition with a more comprehensive look at how nutrition can prevent cancer and cancer reoccurrence.

Vinerys lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Janet Sanchez

Janet Sanchez said the Éxito! Summer Institute increased her interest in pursuing a doctoral degree and is very confident she will apply to a doctoral program in the next year or so.

Janet Sanchez lives in Las Cruces, N.M.

Carola Sanchez-Diaz

Having attended Éxito!, Carola Sanchez-Diaz said she has the  tools to successfully apply for a doctoral education degree which will allow her to make her mark and improve the quality of life for many.

Carola Lives in Puerto Rico.

Mayra Serrano

After attending the Éxito! Summer Institute, Mayra Serrano gained additional informative resources and networking opportunities to help her successfully apply and fund her doctoral education in cancer control research.           

Myra Lives Whittier, Calif.

Vanessa Torres

Through the information and networks gained by attending the Éxito! Summer Institute, Vanessa Torres gained resources to bolster her never-give-up attitude.

Vanessa Lives in Riverside, Calif.


Paul Afnan

During the 2012 Éxito! Summer Institute, Afnan was exposed to the necessary tools, information, and leaders in public health who were able to provide him with the assistance he needed to pursue a doctoral degree and a research career. “The Summer Institute gave me an idea of where I wanted to focus my research.Don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

Paul lives in Houston, Texas.

Jenny Castillo

Once accepted into the program, she learned from respected public health researchers and faculty that there are resources available and many different avenues that can lead to doctoral degree and a career in Latino cancer health disparities research. “Éxito! provided me confidence and tools to apply and be successful in a doctorate program."

Jenny lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Lizbeth Del Toro

“Before the Institute, I had a lot of concerns about research and starting a doctoral degree after finishing my master’s [degree]. However, hearing all the speakers’ stories, I understand that I can work one step at a time and, at the end, the only thing that matters is all the experience I have gained. I think the institute was crucial because I could see that there’s time for everything.”

Lizbeth Del lives in Puerto Rico.

Roger Figueroa

“Éxito! was one of the best things that has happened to me, as a person and as a professional."

Diana Flores

“You hear about the struggles they went through, and some of them pursued their PhDs when there wasn’t programs like Éxito!, or there weren’t other programs, and I heard their struggles and how they went about it, it’s very inspiring. You know, if they were able to do it at a time they didn’t have the support, then if I put my mind to it then I should be able to do it as well.”

Melawhy Garcia

A mentor led her to Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training, which aims to increase research in Latino cancer disparities by encouraging master’s-level students and health professionals to pursue a doctoral degree and a cancer research career. Once in the program, Garcia gained the necessary tools, guidance, and mentoring required to successfully apply for a doctoral program.
Melawhy lives in Anaheim, Calif.

Delana Gonzales

By the end of the 2012 Éxito! Summer Institute, Gonzales received the necessary tools, information, and mentoring opportunities to successfully apply to a doctoral program when she earns her master’s degree. “The summer institute has provided me with helpful information in pursuing a PhD. I feel that I have established a support system with Éxito! staff.”
Delana lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Steven Lopez

Éxito! has increased my understanding of the opportunities that might be available once I pursue a PhD. I think, for me, that’s been a great gift, because sometimes you get ‘siloed’ into thinking what the opportunities may be, but this has expanded my understanding of what I can do with a PhD.”
Steven lives in San Mateo, Calif.

Jeanette Mendez

“Before coming here I thought that having my daughter was a limitation, and that I wouldn’t be able to pursue my goals. But being here and knowing that the Éxito! staff and Éxito! doctors that work collaboratively with them believe in every single one of us, really pushes you to that extreme to say, ‘You know, I’m going to go back, and I’m going to register for the GRE and apply for my PhD.’”
Jeanette lives in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Helen Palomino

By the end of the program, Palomino said the path to pursuing a doctoral degree was much clearer. “[The] Éxito! Summer Institute provided me the insight and clarity for taking the next steps in pursuing a PhD program."

Helen lives in Brawley, Calif.

Rossy Perales

The program provided her with useful information to help her decide to pursue a doctoral degree and perhaps a career in cancer research. “I plan to apply to a PHD program...Éxito! gave me the motivation I needed to apply.”

Rossy lives in Houston, Texas.

Lizette Rangel

“Being in the Éxito! program, I’ve been able to see a lot of Latino role models, and how they’ve undergone a lot of hardship, and they’ve been able to do it in spite of that. Definitely now, being in this program, meeting these professionals, these Latinos, and also being able to meet other students that are in the situation, they have hardships, I felt like, si se puede. Yes we can.”

Lizette lives in Houston, Texas.

Edgar Rodriguez

“I think listening to some of the investigators that spoke [at the 2012 Éxito! Summer Institute], just to find out about their own journey, with their own experiences, how they got there…to me they seem a little more human. Before I had this picture that these people were like brilliant, they knew exactly what they wanted to do, they were so focused. To me that was kind of refreshing."

Edgar lives in Seattle, Wash.

Carla Rosales

The program benefited Carla Rosales in many ways. “Éxito! is a life-changing experience that changed the way I viewed cancer research,” Rosales said.

Carla lives in Kenner, La.

Ramon Torres

“I never expected [Éxito!] would provide me with such great multidisciplinary research insight and motivation for me to continue my path toward the PhD. They brought confidence in me and reasons to believe in academia once again. [Éxito!] has the spark for me to get back up.”

Ramon lives in Kansas City, Kan.

Aditi Wahi

“The [2012 Éxito! Summer Institute] reaffirmed my belief to apply to doctoral programs. It opened up my eyes to additional opportunities in cancer research that I may not have previously thought of. It was also a tremendous experience to be surrounded by people with your same interests and that motivated me even more to go into a career in cancer research.”

Aditi lives in Artesia, Calif.


Rebecca Adeigbe

“Having heard the stories of other minority researchers I feel more confident and prepared to pursue a doctoral degree. The Éxito! Summer Institute has reduced the amount of uncertainty I have in pursuing a career in cancer control research.”

Rebecca lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Rosalie Aguilar

Éxito! helped me realize that there are many resources which exist to study cancer,” she said. “I also enjoyed the camaraderie that was developed between my peers and I. It was encouraging to share ideas and thoughts with other individuals such as myself.”

Rosalie lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Mariana Arevalo

Éxito! was a boost of confidence and a tremendous encouragement for me to apply to doctoral programs. Now more than ever, I’m confident that Latino researchers are not only needed in our field, but we can make a difference in improving the health of Latinos in the U.S. Éxito! gave me leverage, resources, and lots of moral support to continue in my path to a doctoral program.”

Mariana lives in Tampa, Fla.

Maria Priscilla Brietzke

“Although I was already interested in contributing to health disparities research projects, Éxito! motivated me to lead my own research in the future," said Brietzke, who already is contacting potential mentors and planning campus visits to find the right program(s) and looking to hopefully receive a short-term internship opportunity abroad. "For me, the first step will be to complete a doctoral degree.”

Maria lives in Houston.

Marina Daldalian

“I was very interested in health disparities before attending Éxito!, but the program taught me how important it is that Latinos pursue careers in the field. Éxito! gave me a deep appreciation for the unique point of view and contributions that can only really be made by people who innately understand Latino culture, and now I feel a deep interest and responsibility to pursue a career in health disparities.”

Marina lives in Kansas City, Kan.

Diana Santiago Campos

“[Éxito!] served as a guide for my future goals. It has assured me of my many capabilities,” said Campos, who plans to pursue a PhD within the next year or two in an area of substance abuse and mental health in adolescents.

Diana lives in Puerto Rico.

Mary V. Diaz Santana

“Éxito! validated my decision to pursue a career in cancer research, it enhanced my vision about cancer disparities among Hispanics, and increased my awareness of how this population suffers disproportionately from cancer. Cancer research is an opportunity for lessening the burden of cancer, and Éxito! helped me to realize that I want to work towards that.”

Mary lives in Puerto Rico.

David Irizarry

“Éxito! definitely sparked a greater interest in the possibility of pursuing a career in health disparities," said Irizarry, who networked with a variety of individuals and left with a better understanding of potential obstacles and tips when pursing a doctorate degree. "I will start making decisions about my future over the next two months.”

David lives in McAllen, Texas.

Christina Munoz-Masso

“As an epidemiologist, there are many areas within cancer research that interest me, but there is one more step I must take to be able to execute my own ideas—a doctoral degree. Éxito! gave me the essential tools to take this next step in the near future.”

Christina lives in Puerto Rico.

Laura Reyes

Éxito! has opened up my eyes to cancer research,” said Reyes, who is interested in pursuing a dual PhD/MD program with a concentration in epidemiology. “Because of Éxito! I have read books regarding cancer research and have more of an interest and knowledge of cancer and cancer research.”
Laura lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Laura Rubalcava

“Hearing the real-life stories from leaders in Latino public health [at the Éxito! Summer Institute in June 2011] and having learned about the obstacles and achievements of the Éxito! speakers, I feel more confident and prepared in beginning and working to complete my doctorate degree.”
Laura lives in Alexandria, Va.

Marievelisse Soto-Salgado

“Before entering into the Éxito! program, I knew I was interested in a career in cancer control within the Latino/Hispanic community, but the Éxito! program helped me realize that this is definitely what I want do. Through the speaker’s presentations, I found a research area—the behavioral sciences research area—that I did not know, and now I want to explore before making my PhD.”

Marievelisse lives in Puerto Rico.

Donaji Stelzig

“Attending Éxito! was an incredible, very beneficial workshop. Despite the intense amount of information and continuous hours in a very short time, I felt empowered to execute the next steps that will lead me to pursue a doctoral degree.”

Donaji lives in Houston.

Edianys Arlyn Velez

“The program allowed me to realize that I could in fact apply, pursue, and obtain a doctorate degree in public health. I was undecided prior to the Éxito! Summer Institute [in June 2011] and unsure as to whether or not I would be able to apply and be accepted into DrPH program, but the institute helped me to realize that such goals were attainable by giving me the tools necessary to find a right fit for me.”
Edianys lives in El Paso, Texas.