Meet Xiomara, a ResearcHStart Student

“I want to be a pediatrician or oncologist. That is part of the reason of why I joined here.”

Those are the words of Xiomara, a high school student in the researcHStart program. Xiomara is one of the seven students in the University of Illinois Cancer Center (UI Cancer Center) program. Like many other high school students, she has many hobbies – baking, drawing, reading, and watching movies. However, Xiomara chooses to spend her summer at UI Cancer Center by taking part in her other favorite leisure activities, developing research skills in breast, colorectal, cervical, and other cancers.

“We had lectures in this program where we learned about breast cancer and its relationship with ovaries, so I think that’s really amazing how so many areas of the body are connected with each other. Colorectal cancer is part of my research, where I am learning about the cause of diagnosis. I am also learning about cervical cancer, because a family member was affected by it and I wanted to find out more about it.”

Xiomara, who has a variety of diverse career paths in her family, is first generation in her family en route to becoming a healthcare professional.

“For three years, I was a part of the Medicina Academy Apprentice Program, which is a part of the Hispanic Center of Excellence.” Both programs are led by the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and are dedicated to paving a path for Latino students toward the medical field, by providing mentorships and enhancing their medical background from the 9th grade.

“The programs teach students about medical terminology and medical students come in to speak to us. My mentor told me about the researcHStart program and I became really interested in the oncology track. Since this program was cancer-specific, I knew it would be a good opportunity for me and my future.”

ResearcHStart is a program that offers junior and senior high school students, in Chicago and Urbana-Champaign, with an early opportunity to dive into cancer research. Through this program, students learn about cancer immunology, pharmacogenomics of anticancer agents, bioengineering, experimental cancer therapeutics, cancer disparities and more. After eight summer weeks of full-time research, researcHStart graduates are steps closer toward their education in healthcare.

Applications for entry into the competitive program will open again in late Fall 2019. Visit our website for more information about our educational programs.

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