For Hispanic Heritage month, the ReTOOL Program has decided to feature our young Hispanic/Latinx scientists as they embark on exciting careers. Today’s featured alum is Cristina Orozco.
What are you currently studying/researching?
I am currently a Biology and Sociology dual degree. During my time in the research program I conducted a systematic review on testosterone status and ill health in male Black African populations. This project is still ongoing because I have intentions of publishing. I am also conducting research on the efficacy of the PLTL program at FIU by looking at scientific literacy skills via TOSLS survey implementing a mixed-method approach. I think there is a lot of importance in STEM and non-STEM work and that it should be a priority to be a more well rounded, curious learner and researcher.
Where are you studying/conducting research?
I am conducting my research at my current institution and online.
Who is your science hero?
The meaning of science hero is subjective. To me, my science hero is a youtuber called UnjadedJade. Jade posts videos about spiritualism, academia, self confidence and love, the idea of casual magic, mental health, veganism, nature, self evolution, etc. She is raw and real, does her research, and inspires me to be a better version of myself in every way I can. She is my science hero (and anything hero) because she teaches me to work on myself, which is the single most important relationship in my opinion. A person cannot give from an empty cup. I cannot be the best researcher and scientist, and give my all to these endeavors, without first making sure I am taken care of. Making sure I am okay and being intensely honest with myself, constantly thinking and trying to learn more about myself, is something I try to prioritize. Once I focused on myself in this regard, I saw my relationships thrive and I felt more deeply connected to all kinds of people around me and even with nature and animals, which translated into many open doors academically. UnjadedJade helped me get to where I am in this academic journey and I will always admire and appreciate her for that.
What does it mean to you to be a young Hispanic/Latinx scientist?
I feel empowered knowing I am not just a Hispanic scientist, but a young one. I am so proud of everything I have been able to do. I have never felt fully represented or understood in varying ways because of my positionality as a minority. To know that I have been able to overcome biases and systemic issues against people like me with the help of my parents makes me feel like I have done something powerful with my privilege. There is nothing more I can ask for but to have the ability to fight for the lives of other minorities like me, particularly knowing how far I have come from just a first-generation, Latina girl.
What message would you like to send to young Hispanic/Latinx students interested in cancer research?
I would tell you to keep fighting because we are in this battle for equality and equity not just in cancer research or healthcare, but way beyond that. Keep in mind the ultimate goal, which is to empower communities that are not only sickly, but those that are minorities and sickly since they are the ones that are affected the most by systemic issues. Having passion and love drive your efforts I think will never stray you from where you want to end up.
Do you have anything else you would like to add or mention?
Not at this time