Rosa Cobian Aguilar: Overcoming Adversity to Promote Health


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Rosa Cobian Aguilar, like many Latinos, immigrated from Jalisco, Mexico, and grew up with no insurance and big struggles for healthcare access.

But she overcame this adversity, with help from her hard-working, hyper-organized, Zumba-dancing Mom.

Now Aguilar is a first-generation college grad who is working on her master’s degree in psychology at San Diego State University, working in the Cancer Disparities and Cancer Communication Research Lab.

After college, she worked as a case manager and Spanish interpreter, at a community mental health clinic. She aspires to continue working in health disparities research and assure research findings reach underserved communities.

To further her experience and education, Aguilar 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 empowered me to be the strong Latina that I am in all places,” Aguilar said. “This will include in a PhD program, where I will be an asset by verbalizing the needs of my culture. I am now extremely motivated to build my CV in the next year and apply in the Fall of 2020.”

Cobian Aguilar is setting her goal to pursue research in clinical psychology and increasing cancer screening among the underserved.

She had some advice for future Éxito! participants:

“This program will change your life. Go into it with a positive attitude and open mind and you will leave there will all the positivity you need to be successful.”


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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By The Numbers By The Numbers



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

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