Ileana Cepeda: Former Rugby Player Now Tackles Health Disparities

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Ileana Cepeda, a former rugby player, cares about tackling health disparities from many angles, the same type of caring she learned from her abuelita.

Cepeda serves as a research associate for the JUNTOS Against Cancer initiative at the University of Kansas Cancer Center and JUNTOS Center for Advancing Latino Health. She is also part of the new Health Equity Steering Committee for the Cancer Center.

Additionally, she supports the PeRson EmPowered Asthma Relief (PREPARE) Study at the American Academy of Family Physicians as the bilingual research associate. Cepeda received her master’s degree of public health from Kansas State University in 2017 and her bachelor’s degree in biology from Newman University- Kansas Catholic College in 2015.

To further her experience and education, Cepeda 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 and optional internships 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.

“The [Éxito!] program has provided me with the tools and guidance for when I start applying for doctoral programs next year,” said Cepeda. “It is a wonderful learning experience.”

She also had some advice for those thinking of applying to the program.

“This program will provide you guidance and the tools needed to continue your education and the next steps in your career. ¡Si se puede!”

 Editor’s Note: This is the story of a graduate of the 2018 Èxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program at UT Health San Antonio, the headquarters of the Salud America! program. Apply now for Èxito! 2019.

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28

percent

of Latino kids suffer four or more adverse childhood experiences (ACES).

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