When Maria Rincon moved with her family from Venezuela to the U.S., she owned one book.

When Rincon started school here, many expected nothing from her.

Little did they know that Rincon had the resilience to overcome the traumatic experience of acculturation, and she has surpassed expectations and excelled in academia.

In fact, Rincon, earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences at the University of South Florida in 2012 and then earned a master’s degree in epidemiology at Yale University in 2015.

As an undergraduate in Florida, she contributed to diverse research, from molecular epidemiology at the Moffitt Cancer Center, to molecular mechanisms of disease in Methicillin-Resistant S. Aureus (MRSA).

As a graduate student, Rincon has focused on infectious disease epidemiology, assessing the potential for adapting a CDC Population Survey as a source of control subjects for foodborne illness research. Her research interests are multidisciplinary, including health disparities, gaps in health literacy, cultural sensitivity in health communication and behavioral health outcomes.

She is currently participating in a fellowship at the National Cancer Institute, contributing to projects in database linkages and measures of patient-reported outcomes.

To further her training and education, Rincon applied for the Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program. The 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 to promote doctoral degrees and careers in Latino cancer.

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,” Rincon said. “I am hoping to continue my unique journey, and am more hopeful of my prospects and opportunities.”

Editor’s Note: This is the story of a graduate of the 2017 Èxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program. Apply now for 2018.

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