Full Name: Carlos Mendez
Hometown: Acapulco/Gro, Mexico
School: City of Hope Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences
My family and I migrated from Acapulco, Mexico to our home Southeast Los Angeles in 2004. Thanks to all the sacrifices my parents have done since arriving in Maywood, California, we are currently celebrating my recent graduation from Bennington College with a concentration in Molecular Biology and Chemistry. During my undergraduate career, I was privileged to work in various laboratories at Bennington College, University of Southern California, and City of Hope, where I was able to collaboratively contribute novel knowledge in the understanding of HIV-1 restriction, skin cancer initiation and novel treatments for triple negative breast cancer. My teams' findings have led to co-authored publications in The Journal of Biological Chemistry, Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, and The Journal of Student Research. In addition, a group of Bennington students and I established an advocacy organization for the isolated, undocumented Latino migrant workers living near Bennington, Vermont, utilizing resources from the College and the town to build a community of support for recreation, education, and health care services. I will soon begin a PhD program in Cancer Biology at the Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences at City of Hope this Fall of 2015. The dream is to contribute novel findings in cancer research to advance our understanding of this malignant disease affecting our communities and to develop novel therapeutics and technologies.
When I am not working in the lab or advocating for immigrants' rights, you will most likely find me dancing.
What advice would you give to future undocumented students applying to graduate programs?
My advice for anyone interested in pursuing a PhD in science is to first truly experience the magic and pain of science by working in a laboratory during or after college. By doing so, you will not only be able to confirm if science is a career you want to pursue but also create a supportive network of mentors from professors, current grad students and post-docs that will facilitate the application process and your transition into graduate school.