Alelí M. Ayala-Marín, a licensed dietitian/nutritionist, is proud of her Puerto Rican roots.
Ayala-Marín said her culture and heritage have made her attentive to the studying cancer health disparities in her home country, where she has earned an undergraduate degree in nutrition and dietetics and a master’s in public health with a concentration in epidemiology from the University of Puerto Rico (Medical Science Campus).
She is currently coordinating a pilot study, “Cultivando La Salud,” an evidence-based educational intervention designed to increase screening tests for breast and cervical cancer.
Ayala-Marín heard about the Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program—which offers a five-day summer institute and internships to encourage master’s-level students and health professionals to pursue a doctoral degree and a cancer research career—from her mentor and former Éxito! alumni who encouraged her to apply.
She was fairly certain she wanted to pursue a doctoral degree, but she felt she needed more information about becoming a stronger candidate and the research paths available to her.
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.