Jeslie Ramos Cartagena

When many people get a flat tire, they call Triple-A for help.

Well, Jeslie Ramos Cartagena can change her own flat tire, thanks to her single mom, who raised her and taught her many practical skills, none more important than “independence.”

Ramos Cartagena, born and raised in Cayey, Puerto Rico, is turning her independent nature into perseverance as she works non-stop toward her goal to reduce cancer health disparities.

In 2016, she completed a bachelor’s degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) in Cayey. She earned her master’s in epidemiology from UPR’s Medical Science Campus in 2018.

To further her experience and education, Ramos Cartagena applied for the Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program.

The Éxito! program, led by Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez at UT Health San Antonio with support from the National Cancer Institute, recruits 25 master’s-level students and professionals each year for a five-day summer institute, optional internships, and ongoing networking and support to promote doctoral degrees and careers in Latino cancer. A recent study found significant increases in summer institute participants’ confidence to apply to a doctoral program and academic self-efficacy.

“[At Éxito!], it was empowering knowing such amazing people that are at the same place as me,” Ramos Cartagena said. “This week give a new perspective of the world. Hearing the struggles that my partners had to overcome was really powerful.”

Already gaining experience as a study coordinator at the Comprehensive Cancer Center of the UPR, Ramos Cartagena aims to achieve a doctoral degree and launch culture-infused studies to boost cancer screening and education among Latinos. Truly, the “dominoes” are lining up for success for this Puerto Rican native.

To next year’s Éxito! participants, Ramos Cartagena has this advice:

“Enjoy this unique experience.”