Patricia Dionicio: Forging a Path to Better Health for Latinos


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Challenged by her sister to keep an open mind, Patricia Dionicio is taking that advice and forging her own path toward improving Latino health.

Dionicio, who earned the Gates Millennium Scholarship in high school, is currently a master’s-degree student at California State University, Long Beach.

She already is looking for new ways to address cancer and obesity. Whether it means using technology to overcome barriers to care for Latinos, or creating global-level telemedicine programs, all options are possible for her. Dionicio also recently collaborated on a study up for publication in the Journal of Telemedicine and E-Health.

To further her experience and education, Dionicio 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, optional internships, and ongoing networking and support 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.

Éxito! has changed my entire perspective on what a successful individual looks like,” Dionicio said. “For the first time in my life, I can see myself succeeding in a career. I can see my friends and family as well as strangers who are Latinos succeeding. I can see us all succeeding.”

Éxito! has given me the tools, knowledge, and network to face the academia world and not be scared,” she added. “If anything, this institute has made me choose more realistic goals that will influence my success in the long run.”

For those applying next year for Éxito!, Dionicio has this advice:

“Listen and soak it all in because it will be over before you know it. But you will end Éxito! as a different person, a person that will be your own best hype person! Also, teach others back home what you have learned at Éxito! because they need this information just as much as you do!”


Editor’s Note: This is the story of a graduate of the 2019 Èxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program at UT Health San Antonio, the headquarters of the Salud America! program. Apply now for Èxito! 2020.

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