Editor’s Note: This is the story of a graduate of the 2016 Èxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program. Apply now for 2017 by March 6.

When she needed more money to support her own private-school education, Angelika Gutierrez became the youngest teller at a New Jersey bank at age 16.

That’s how hard Gutierrez will work to achieve her goals.

angelika gutierrez latino cancer research exitoNow, buoyed by her resilient upbringing by her abuelita (grandma), the Ecuadorian-Puerto Rican went on to become a first-generation college graduate and now is a master-degree public health student at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Gutierrez has a passion for studying the U.S.-Puerto Rico relationship’s effect on Puerto Rican health disparities, and strengthening the health systems in Latin America.

That’s why she applied for the Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program, which recruits 25 master’s-level students and professionals for a five-day Summer Institute to promote doctoral degrees and careers studying Latino cancer. Éxito! is led by Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez at UT Health San Antonio, with support from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

She said it was encouraging “to be in a room with such motivated and intelligent Latinos.”

“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,” Gutierrez said.

“The staff and presenters were encouraging and tried their best to provide us with the tools and information necessary for us to advance our careers. Thank you, Éxito!

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