When she was a child, Aíxa M. Pérez-Caraballo wanted to be a ballerina.
Later, she wanted to go to college and find ways to improve Latino health.
Both times, Pérez-Caraballo’s mother had the same encouraging words: “Great. Let’s move toward this goal.”
Constant maternal support has given Pérez-Caraballo a passion to follow her dreams.
She has done just that—not only earning a bachelor’s degree in industrial microbiology from the University of Puerto and studying public health and epidemiology as a master’s student at the University of Puerto Rico School of Public Health—but also becoming vested in promoting health education as a way to increase access and resources to those who are at a disadvantage due to health disparities.
Pérez-Caraballo is interested in understanding of cancer health disparities to reduce the Latino cancer burden and plans to work to better understand why Latino youth are not receiving vaccines recommended to prevent cervical cancer.
Her passion about Latino health led her to apply to 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. She wanted and learn more about career opportunities in epidemiology and pursing a doctoral degree.
After attending the Éxito! Summer Institute, Pérez-Caraballo feels she has a better grasp on the skills needed to apply to and complete a doctoral degree and excitement about a career in epidemiology.