Liliana Martinez: Determined to Improve Latino Health


MartinezLiliana Exito 2018 participant
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Determination is what Liliana Martinez is all about.

She found a model for determination in her brother who, despite spending time incarcerated, went back to school and became a successful teacher.

Martinez proved her own determination when, as a native of Mexico who immigrated with her family to the United States at age 6, she worked with undocumented students to pursue passage of the DREAM Act and mentored high school students to pursue higher education.

And, perhaps most impressively, she will be passing her determination on to the next generation, too, as she is resolute in wanting to teach her first child the indigenous Nahuatl language spoken by her Mexican grandmother.

Martinez is a current graduate student in the master’s degree of public health program at the University of Utah. She is the first in her family to pursue a master’s degree and hopes to work with underserved communities to address health disparities.

To further her experience and education, Martinez 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.

“When I applied to the [Éxito!] summer institute I knew that I wanted to work in cancer research focusing on Latino communities, but did not even considered applying to a doctoral program.” Martinez said. “The [Éxito!] summer institute has showed me the importance of applying to a doctoral program and that it’s possible for me to do it.”

“I think the most important thing that helped me decide to apply to a doctoral program was knowing that everyone’s path is different, but con esfuerzo todo es posible.”

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

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