Steven Lopez’s migrant parents beamed with pride as they dropped him off for his first year at Stanford University—in the same region of California which they had picked fruit from years before to make a living.
Appreciating the sacrifices and hard work of his parents to give him a better life and opportunities, Lopez dedicated himself to his studies and earned a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from Stanford University. In addition, Lopez obtained a master’s degree in public health and public policy from the University of California, Berkeley.
With this level of education, Lopez worked as a fellow for the CDC in Laredo, Texas, coordinating the creating and implementation of a citywide obesity prevention initiative in collaboration with The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Now Lopez is a community health policy planner for the San Mateo County Health System, evaluating, developing, and planning health policy initiatives. He and his colleagues are looking at public health prevention from a very primary perspective—the way cities are built, the access we have to physical activity/nutrition opportunities, etc.—in order to prevent obesity, diabetes and certain cancers from even occurring.
Knowing his skills and his vast potential to earn a doctoral degree, several Laredo-area faculty members encouraged Lopez to apply forÉxito! 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.
“The [2012Éxito! Summer Institute] played a very important role in guiding my next steps by: exposing me to other Latinos who have overcome barriers and life challenges; showing me various research interest and perspectives worth pursuing in a doctoral program; and providing me a network of students and professionals willing to be serve as mentors,” Lopez said.
He added: “Éxito!has increased my understanding of the opportunities that might be available once I pursue a PhD. I think, for me, that’s been a great gift, because sometimes you get ‘siloed’ into thinking what the opportunities may be, but this has expanded my understanding of what I can do with a PhD.”