When did you first become interested in your field?
I have been interested in medicine from a very young age. I originally wanted to become a veterinarian or a pediatrician, but realized that I was very good at math as well, so I ventured further into physics and settled into biotech.
Do you have any advice for young women interested or going into your field or a message you would like to share with the young ladies watching this?
Don’t mind the lack of color or females in your classes during college. Just believe in yourself and leverage your diversity to find unique opportunities. Most of the time your diversities will actually be your strong suit for scholarships and job opportunities.
How did your experiences (internships, research, etc.) help you decide on a career path?
I was involved in a lot of undergraduate research and realized early on that working in a lab was not for me. So after I graduated, I applied to Master’s programs that specialized in combining biology/medicine and business because I knew I wanted to stay in medicine. I wish I took at least one business related class during undergraduate, such as health finance, economics, or public health, but I was able to take these in my masters program and loved them. Exposing myself to different fields really helped eliminate the “what-ifs”.
How would you define biotech, since it isn’t as well known?
Biotech is a mix of bioengineering/medicine/AI/business/technology. I think biotech and biomed are both very similar. The most important aspects to know if you [might] be interested are the class/job description and company product or vision.
Do you have a woman you look up to/is your role model? If so, who is it and why?
My grandmother migrated to the US from El Salvador during her early twenties. She managed to find work, raise three children, and learn the English language, all while battling a chronic illness. So her strength, determination, and resourcefulness was really inspiring.
Have you ever experienced gender based discrimination? If so, how did you overcome it?
So far, I have not experienced gender based discrimination. I’m sure I will eventually have to face it, but the company I work for, Genentech, has a pretty female dominant presence.
Do you have any stories of a time when you doubted yourself or your abilities? How did you pull yourself out of that and what was something that helped you regain your confidence?
Imposter syndrome is real and perfectly normal during any transition. From high school to college, I was no longer at the top of my class and tests became very hard. I also failed Chemistry my freshman year so I was having major doubts on whether I could be pre-med anymore. But, I made a brave decision to change my major to biophysics and everything worked out. Sometimes you have to venture out of your comfort-zone and experience failures to really grow.
Why did you decide to speak at this event? What motivated or inspired you to share your experiences?
I completely understand the intimidation and doubts when deciding to go into a STEM field/job. I wanted to help ease that anxiety and help motivate fellow girls to believe in themselves and just go for it. Maybe by sharing my story, I can help guide or inspire others.