Sep 10, 2021 10:00 AM

Read Time: 4 minutes


2021 PathMaker Program Scholars

We were thrilled to have our 2021 PathMaker Programs for Cancer Research Scholar and Bridge students on campus this summer. The program promotes individuals from underrepresented groups pursuing careers in a biomedical or cancer-related research field.

The PathMaker Scholar route provides cancer research experience for high school and undergraduate students. The PathMaker Bridge track supplies cancer research experiences and guided curriculum development for secondary school science teachers.

Some of our PathMakers share what they learned about cancer research—and themselves—during their time at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI).

Trish Luu

“I have discovered that a lot goes into research. A lot. Not only are you working in a lab—a wet lab for me—but you're also having to review papers or review the reviewers’ comments on a paper. I have a huge amount of respect for researchers and scientists.”

Trish Luu


yousuf haidari

"Five years ago, I was in the streets of Afghanistan selling ice cream, and now I spent the summer researching one of the deadliest diseases in the world. I love medicine and my hope is to become a doctor to help patients in my community and in Afghanistan."

Yousuf Haidari


manette perez

"I've learned that even failures can be exciting in cancer research. If something doesn't work the way we thought it would, we can analyze it, figure out why, and then try a different approach. Of course it's frustrating, but it's also amazing to see the work amount to something."

Manette Perez


pendeza mulibea

"I was surrounded by the best of the best. I absolutely loved the PathMaker Program. The opportunity to be there, living with individuals who are like-minded. I was surrounded by awesome people. Then, to walk to HCI and be in that building with different mentors, exploring different interests, and talking to different people—it was just phenomenal."

Pendeza Mulibea


abdul mansoor

"I had no previous knowledge or experience in research before this, but now I'm working in a laboratory doing cancer research. It is amazing to have these kinds of opportunities right out of high school."

Abdul Mansoor


lydia altamiranda

"This summer, I've learned how capable I really am. When I started the program I didn't know anything about cancer or research, so I was overwhelmed working in the lab. At first, I didn't think I could do it, but then I decided I could, and I did."

Lydia Altamiranda


natalie flores

"It has been such a blessing for me to be a PathMaker student and have this research opportunity at such a young age. It has pushed me to my limit, but in a good way. I've realized how much potential I have. Within this program—with all the mentors, leaders, and other PathMaker students—I've learned that I can do hard things. Anything is possible."

Natalie Flores


kristin lillywhite

"Even scientists make mistakes. The process of science takes longer than I expected, but scientists are resilient and creative people."

Kristin Lillywhite


deb smith

"I teach a lot of growth mindset for my students—teaching them that anything is possible, to keep going when it gets hard. Teaching that is one thing, but to go into a lab where I had no idea what was going on and had to learn new procedures and protocols, made it real. I had to work really hard on having a growth mindset and a positive attitude. I had to keep telling myself to keep going. It really gave me more empathy for my students. I think that realization, plus the incredible experiences that I had, will provide a renewed enthusiasm this school year. The added knowledge that I have, combined with new ways of looking at and explaining things—I can hardly wait to get started."

Deb Smith


kimberly mccollum

“My background is in ecological field research. When my students came to me for help in biomedical research, my knowledge was theoretical. Working in this lab gave me the opportunity to develop some of those skills and become more comfortable being able to mentor my students with those kinds of research interests. It has strengthened my content knowledge in an area where my students need me.”

Kimberly McCollum

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Cancer touches all of us.

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