Nicole Serrant Ayes: Improving Access to Cancer Care Services


Ayes Nicole Exito 2018 participant
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Nicole Serrant Ayes is always up for a challenge.

In fact, she’s already proven this by taking the challenging trek up Machu Picchu.

Serrant Ayes also spent two years as a biologist and a research assistant at a Veteran’s Affairs Hospital collaborating in different cancer projects. With two grandfathers who survived prostate cancer, she is now determined to help others at risk, by improving access to services.

She is currently finishing up her master’s degree of public health in epidemiology at the University of Puerto Rico-Medical Sciences Campus.

To further her experience and education, Serrant Ayes 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.

“I never thought that five days could make such difference in me. I came back to my home and just by reading my notes, I realized that I was already convinced to pursue a doctoral degree, I just needed the push for confidence to actually believe that it is possible. Éxito! gave me hope and confidence to continue my education,” Serrant Ayes said.

“I think the program works because the staff makes everything very personal and individual. You don’t feel invisible. You feel important and appreciated for who you are.”

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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