Richard Gamarra

New York native Richard Gamarra spent seven years in prison after falling victim to the lures of gangs, drugs, and money.
But he used his time in prison wisely.
He continued his education and took an interest in public health, specifically the effects of drugs, violence, mass incarceration, and solitary confinement on mental health.
Now outside of the prison walls, Gamarra has overcome his early-life troubles with an encouraging, pay-it-forward attitude and continuing to seek a master’s degree in public health at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
Gamarra wants to tackle important research questions on quality of life, access to care, and mental health. He is an intern at NYC Health + Hospitals and also has gained experience as a community health worker with the Coming Home program at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s to improve access to health care among men and women leaving prison.
He wants to do more.
That’s why he applied for the Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program, which recruits 25 master’s-level students and professionals for a five-day Summer Institute to promote doctoral degrees and careers studying Latino cancer.
“[Éxito!] definitely helped me make a decision regarding my future,” Gamarra said. “I was debating with myself as to whether or not I would pursue a doctoral degree because I was not sure what I would focus on.”
He also learned of the tremendous needs for Latino researchers to fill gaps in current research.
“[Éxito!] helped me see that I could answer personal questions and address personal interests while conducting research to help the community,” Gamarra said.