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BROWNSVILLE, TX- A few years ago Herminio Guajardo had to quit law school in Mexico to come to the United States to work.

He took a number of odd jobs in Harlingen and the surrounding area. But he wanted more.

Now, the 27-year-old graduated from of The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College with a bachelor’s degree in biology in May and will pursue his master’s in biomedical research at the University of Pennsylvania.

 “I had many jobs before I came to UTB/TSC. I used to be a gardener, dishwasher, cook, I was a lot of things and now I cannot believe I have even gone to New York City to study and conduct research at one of the best institutions in the world, he said.

Last summer, Guajardo and his classmate Ivan Valdez, were two of six people from a nationwide pool of 200 applicants that were accepted into an internship program with Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences in New York City.

Through the Minority Biomedical Research Support, Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement Program (MBRS RISE), Guajardo and Valdez were able to apply and were accepted to conduct biological and neurobiological research at one of the leading medical institutions in the country.

The objective of the MBRS RISE program is to increase interest, skills and competitiveness of students, increase the number of minorities completing undergraduate degrees, and increase the number of graduates continuing to Ph.D. programs.

“I was very excited and at first I couldn’t believe that I had gotten into Cornell, he said. “I thank Dr.(Eldon) Nelson and Dr. (Luis) Colom, they inspire me to work and UTB/TSC has a quality program.

At UTB/TSC, Guajardo worked in the research lab with Colom, Vice President for Research, but his interest in science began only a short time ago after his mother became ill.

“My mother was in the intensive care unit at Valley Baptist in Harlingen and I realized that science is very important for people, Guajardo said. “They saved my mom’s life and that is how I got interested in science and I noticed how important it was to help others.

When he enrolled at UTB/TSC, Guajardo was simply looking to learn more of the English language, taking English as a Second Language and remedial classes for two years due to the language barrier.

“I then decided I wanted to learn more, he said. “Then I took my first biology class and I fell in love.

Guajardo said he plans to eventually earn a Ph.D. in neuroscience to continue research in that field.

“I feel like this was my second chance in life and I feel blessed for that, he said. “Education is the key to success and I encourage everyone to not give up. Education opens doors everywhere.

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