Jeanette Mendez isn’t only a new mother.
Mendez, who has 1-year-old daughter, is making contributions to clinical research at her job and proving that a Latina can enter motherhood and still pursue career goals.
“When she was born it reminded me of my grandmother, who did pass away from cancer. It reminded me of the values she instilled in us, of always being strong,” Mendez said. “And when I had my little girl I was determined to continue my education because that was very valuable in my family. I was also determined to provide for her in such a way that my father couldn’t really provide for us.”
Armed with a bachelor’s in psychology from Cal State University and a master’s degree in clinical research management from Arizona State University, Mendez currently serves as clinical research coordinator at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz.
As part of her appointment she oversees 20 pending and active trials where she is responsible for integrating research with academic and health centers and ensuring protocols are adhered to at all satellite centers. The clinic mainly serves Hispanics.
“I’m doing cancer research because there is a family history of cancer, and there weren’t answers for us when we were younger, with some of the family members who did pass away from cancer,” Mendez said. “I hope that, in the event that my dad or my daughter get cancer one day, I can be educated enough to know the direction to steer and with the proper health care, possibly also incorporate better methods of educating minority groups about cancer care and cancer clinical research trials.”
To continue on this track, Mendez joinedÉxito! 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 appreciated hearing about career tribulations, successes, and passions from Latino researcher role models at the 2012Éxito!Summer Institute.
“That’s the No. 1 thing that the doctor’s here are addressing, that if this is passion, something you’ll really enjoy, don’t let life’s experiences that you think are limitations, don’t let those hold you back,” Mendez said. “Use them to your advantage and make something of them.
“Before coming here I thought that having my daughter was a limitation, and that I wouldn’t be able to pursue my goals. But being here and knowing that the Éxito!staff andÉxito!doctors that work collaboratively with them believe in every single one of us, really pushes you to that extreme to say, ‘You know, I’m going to go back, and I’m going to register for the GRE and apply for my PhD.’”