I am a senior at Maggie L. Walker Governor's School for Government and International Studies. I am passionate about science and research, and love to make art and go scuba diving in my free time.
I am fortunate to have a wonderful family that has been a constant source of support and inspiration to me. From my hardworking grandmother who worked several jobs as a maid and other labor-intensive jobs to support my father and uncle in their educational pursuits, I learned the meaning of honor and dignity in work and the human spirit. My grandfather suffered from several strokes when I was very young and it was his fight that inspired me to pursue the application of Celloidosomes for neurodegenerative diseases. Finally, my parents, who came to the United States with the desire to realize their American dream by continuing their education, taught me that a curious mind and the courage to ask questions could open the world to me. As my father always says,
“Education is the only thing no one can take away from you.”
I am proud of my heritage and background, which includes Spain, Venezuela, France, Lebanon and Portugal. My father often tells me that I remind him of my grandmother in my spirit and drive. My grandmother had to drop out of school in order to support her sons, but the strong work ethic and integrity she passed onto my father is something I believe he passed on to me as well. I have been fortunate and humbled to have the opportunities to pursue my research in Celloidosomes and to form a robust network of collaborators. It is has been through the support and encouragement of family, friends, and colleagues that have made my achievements possible.
My curiosity for science was sparked at a young age when my father would take me to a pond in Connecticut near our house, and I asked about the insects “walking” on the surface of the water. When he explained the surface tension of the bugs’ feet against the water, I thought to myself, ‘I can do that!’ and decided to join them, resulting in a great deal of splashing. After that, I have never stopped asking questions about the world. To me, the beauty of science lies in courage and curiosity. Courage in not being afraid of not knowing and trusting that the knowledge one seeks comes with experience. Curiosity stems from questions. In the same way that the journey is more important than the destination, questions are more vital to learning than the answers themselves.
In addition to science, I developed a passion for the artistic pursuits of theatre in high school. I have now been a part of the hair and makeup crew for three years, during which I have developed a repertoire of theatre-craft skills that includes blemish concealing, contouring, and aging teen performers to assume the roles of elderly characters. However, more than just a hobby, this artistic therapy of sorts has opened a window to a deeper sense of self. Working in hair and makeup has taught me to think about the interweaving between identity and appearance. I can draw upon these tools in my own life, choosing how and when to display different facets of my being depending on the audience, the circumstances, and my own feelings. I am learning to choose only the masks that allow myself and others to see and recognize the real me.
As a young Hispanic female in the field of scientific research, where we represent a small proportion of the community, I believe that I have an obligation and responsibility to myself, my community, and to my planet to be a role model and to contribute to creating a better living environment for us all. My own personal role models include Rosalind Franklin, for her work in discovering the DNA structure and fighting for her place in the lab; Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic woman in space; and Mario Molina, who won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in helping discover the Antarctic ozone hole. For me, leadership is not about ability; it is about responsibility. These role models help keep me inspired to continue my work not only as a scientist with a duty towards exploration and discoveries, but more importantly as an activist with the responsibility to improve the lives of people around the world.