Diana Flores

Diana Flores

Some of Diana Flores’ extended family members didn’t want her to go to college.

They thought she should stick to a traditional Latina role—wife and mother—instead of “wasting” money and time on education.

But Flores’ mother and father encouraged her to pursue the educational career path she was passionate about.

With their support, she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in public health (environmental health sciences and global health) from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

“It was actually empowering, because I reached a point that nobody else in my family had achieved yet—getting a master’s degree,” Flores said. “So hopefully that caused [my extended family members] to see that moving away from home, going to school, wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but is serving as an inspiration to the children of those who didn’t exactly support school at the beginning.”

Through her educational background and experience, Flores interned in occupational health for the California Department of Health, where she evaluated the usability of ergonomic jack hammers. She also worked as a teacher’s assistant for undergraduate molecular cell and developmental biology courses at UCLA.

She now aspires to earn a doctoral degree.

That’s why Flores applied for and was selected to join Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training, which aims to increase research in Latino cancer disparities by encouraging master’s-level students and health professionals to pursue a doctoral degree and a cancer research career.

She said she was impressed by hearing from Latino professors, researchers and academics during the 2012Éxito!Summer Institute.

“You hear about the struggles they went through, and some of them pursued their PhDs when there wasn’t programs likeÉxito!, or there weren’t other programs, and I heard their struggles and how they went about it, it’s very inspiring,” Flores said. “You know, if they were able to do it at a time they didn’t have the support, then if I put my mind to it then I should be able to do it as well.”