With encouragement toward higher education from his El Salvadorian mother, Paul Afnan earned a bachelor’s degree in conservation and resources studies and made the dean’s list with a 4.0 GPA at the University of California, Berkeley.
He knew he wanted to make a difference in people’s health.
So he interned with a scientific agency in Managua, Nicaragua, where he enrolled children into a dengue/influenza cohort study and created a predictive model for patients with febrile illnesses.
Afnan then moved from San Francisco to Houston, where he interned in infection control at Memorial Herman Hospital. Here Afnan conducted an environmental study examining Staphylococcus aureus samples and performed data extraction from medical records to research the risk factors of ventilator-associated pneumonia.
He also wanted to help family members who were struggled with cancer.
That’s why he is seeking his master’s degree in public health at The University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston. He expects to graduate in 2013.
To further explore pursuit of a doctoral degree, Afnan applied for and was accepted to joinÉxito! 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.
During the 2012Éxito!Summer Institute, Afnan was exposed to the necessary tools, information, and leaders in public health who were able to provide him with the assistance he needed to pursue a doctoral degree and a research career.
“The Summer Institute gave me an idea of where I wanted to focus my research,” Afnan said. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions.”