Puerto Rico native Roger Figueroa could be called a modern-day pioneer.
With limited resources and limited knowledge of English, he ventured to the U.S. seeking better career opportunities and a better life.
He’s already having great success, completing his master’s degree in health and kinesiology at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and he working as a research assistant on several studies, including one testing faith-based methods of preventing obesity and another to reduce barriers to physical activity among Latino children.
Through his career networks he learned about Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training at UT Health San Antonio, 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.
His experience, level of education and networks not only qualified as a participant for the 2012 Éxito! Summer Institute, but also earned him admission to the Illinois Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Program at the University of Illinois in Fall 2012.
“[Éxito!] made me strongly consider doing cancer research throughout my PhD program and beyond,” Figueroa said.
Roger went on to earn his his PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As of 2018, he is doing a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Traineeship at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“Éxito! was one of the best things that has happened to me, as a person and as a professional,” he said.