PSU BUILD EXITO Graduates Its Largest Cohort of Student Trainees

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Portland State University’s BUILD EXITO graduated their largest cohort of student trainees this June. Fifty-two students completed the three-year research training program, embarking on new adventures. The following celebrates the stories of several recent alumni from the BUILD EXITO Class of 2019. 



Eleanor Adams graduated with a bachelor’s degree in honors health science with a minor in chemistry, and another bachelor’s degree in honors Spanish. Adams plans to pursue both a medical degree and a master’s degree in public health. Adams’ ultimate goal is to help build a more equitable health care system through research. 

The recent graduate sees herself working in a setting such as Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center in Oregon, which cares for migrant and seasonal farm workers in Washington and Yamhill counties.

(Adams pictured working in her research lab)


Elizabeth PerezElizabeth Perez

Elizabeth Perez is the first in her family to complete a college degree. Perez moved to Portland to work and enrolled at Portland Community College (PCC).  She transferred to PSU and completed the BUILD EXITO program this spring.  

“Being first-generation, I didn’t know all the different possibilities available to me,” Perez said. “I thought I wanted to be a lab technician, but BUILD EXITO took me into a totally different direction.”

This year, Perez will enroll as a Ph.D. student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS) program at Harvard University. Her goal is to become a professor and also pursue science policy. 

(Perez pictured with her acceptance letter from Harvard)




Sulema RodriguezEXITO Alumni, Sulema Rodriguez 

Sulema Rodriguez graduated with a bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing sciences, with a minor in psychology. Though she received offers from graduate programs at New York University and Columbia University, Rodriguez chose PSU to earn her master’s degree in speech and hearing sciences this fall. Her goal is to get her Ph.D. and become a speech pathologist who can work with both English- and Spanish-speaking patients.

Her research comes from her own personal experiences with speech difficulties – a stutter that presents challenges in her daily life.

“Before I heard about BUILD EXITO, I honestly wasn’t sure how I was going to get through college because of my speech impediment,” Rodriquez said. “The program helped me pay for college, and I got a lot of help from some great people in the process.”






EXITO Alumni, Kara Gallemore 

BUILD EXITO alumna Kara Gallemore will pursue a master’s degree through the Masters of Public Health program in Epidemiology at the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health this fall. Gallemore expressed how integral the EXITO program was to her professional and personal growth.

“Through the program, I was able to connect with the science community, and learn invaluable skills that are propelling me into my future,” Gallemore said. 

Gallemore said the program helped her with her self-confidence and self-efficacy as a scientist. 

“The most important lesson I learned in EXITO was that I am capable. I am a scientist now, not because I know how to run data through a program and get an output—and actually understand what it means—but I'm a scientist because I know that I am capable of understanding complex problems that require thoughtful solutions. That's what science is all about." Gallmore said.







Teala AlvordEXITO Alumni, Teala Alvord 

This fall, EXITO Alumna Teala Alvord will join the Masters of Public Health program in Epidemiology at the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. Gallemore said that being part of the program, and especially working with her research mentor, helped her develop a sense of belonging in the sciences.

“We talk a lot in EXITO about struggling to belong in science, and suffering from imposter syndrome,” Gallemore said. “All of us feel it from time to time, and it’s a powerful demotivator. Working with [my research mentor] Dr. Marriott has shown me that I do belong, that I am capable, and I am valued. Her vulnerability with me, treating me as an equal, has been life changing. I can call myself a scientist with no doubt in my mind and she’s been a huge part of that."

(Alvord pictured at last year’s APHA conference)







EXITO Alumni, Henry Wu

Recent EXITO Alumnus Henry Wu received offers from Washington State University and Texas A&M University, but ultimately chose the University of Michigan Ann Arbor to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry.

(Photo from Wu's visit to Florida for the 256th ACS National Meeting & Exposition)







EXITO Alumni, Carole Salmo

Carole Salmo gained admission to three different schools of dentistry: Oregon Health & Science University, the University of Washington and Roseman University.

(Salmo pictured with her three graduate school acceptance letters)

The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.
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