Latina in Science: Dr. Audelia Munguia!!
Name: Audelia Munguia Hometown: Saginaw, MI Education: (College/s name/s) Undergrad: Grand Valley State University (Allendale, MI), Grad: Wayne State University School of Medicine (Detroit, MI) Current Status: PhD Postdoctoral Fellow When did you start work/school at Mayo Clinic? October 2004 How did you become interested in or hear about Mayo Clinic? A friend was attending Mayo medical school. What do you do here at Mayo Clinic? What is your area of specialty? I am a postdoctoral fellow in Steve Russell’s lab in the department of Molecular Medicine. I am currently, working on enhancing the therapeutic efficacy of oncolytic viruses for the treatment of multiple myeloma. Do you participate in any organizations, societies, clubs, memberships, professions at Mayo Clinic and/or Rochester community? I am member of MFA and MFRA. Every year I volunteer as a judge for the Rochester regional science fair. How does working at Mayo Clinic Rochester location differ from your hometown or where you attended school? Even though I was born and raised in MI, it is much colder here in the winter months. I have always lived in a big city with a population of at least 100,000 people. Rochester is definitely much smaller and more intimate than any other city I have ever lived. The diversity of people that work in the labs here at Mayo Clinic, such as a large population of postdocs/grad students from other countries, is not much different than that of labs that I have worked at in Detroit, MI and Miami, FL. However, the diversion of people in Rochester and surrounding towns is extremely different than the towns I have lived. Rochester seems to be very conservative and not open to alternative lifestyles. In addition, there seems to be less people of color than other cities I have lived. Do you consider yourself diverse? Yes, I am a Mexican-American woman. What types of hardships or hurdles did you have to overcome to get your education or profession at Mayo Clinic? Did your diverse background have a role in these hardships? I was the first person in my family to go to college and graduate with a bachelor’s degree and a PhD. I do not come from a family of educated people. My family has made a living as migrant workers and working in the factories at General Motors. For me one of the biggest hurdles was figuring out how to apply to colleges, financial aid, and what was needed to continue on with graduate school. I worked many jobs during my undergraduate education to finance my education. I don’t think my hurdles are not much different from other first generation college students that come from middle class families. However, as a Hispanic woman scientist I have had to overcome many obstacles. I have had to become accustomed of being the only minority in both the classroom and laboratory setting. At times it was difficult to deal with the alienation that I feel by being one of only few who share my cultural values. Overcoming these obstacles has only inspired my desire and determination to preserve and achieve my goals. How has being from a diverse background helped you succeed in getting your education or profession at Mayo Clinic? Yes, I was a McNair scholar, which is a federal program that gives first generation college students a chance to perform scientific research with a stipend. In addition, when I was in graduate school I was an IMSD fellow. Coming from a diverse background, do you feel that people treat you different at Mayo Clinic or Rochester, MN? In general, I have not really felt that I have been treated differently because of my diverse background. Most of the time I don’t let people’s comments get to me, I have learned to pick my battles. However, there was one lab technician who was born and raised in Rochester, tell me that I spoke English very well for a Hispanic and that my accent was barely noticeable. I proceeded to tell her that I was born and raised in Michigan, a state that is about a 10 hour drive east of Rochester. Do you feel that diversity plays a role in the education you are receiving (grad/med school, IMSD) or as a professional at Mayo Clinic? If yes or no, explain. Personally, as a postdoctoral fellow, I do not believe that diversity plays a role in my job at Mayo Clinic. However, I have seen diversity play a role in some professions here at Mayo Clinic. When I say diversity, I mean both gender and ethic diversity. I have seen instances where female faculty members do not receive the same respect as male faculty members even if the female faculty member is more successful than her male counterparts. I believe this discrepancy occurs throughout the scientific community not just as Mayo Clinic. Do you think Mayo Clinic and/or Rochester, MN and/or your program is diverse? Does this affect you? Would you change it or leave it the same? If you would make changes, what would they be? Please explain. I don’t believe that Rochester, MN is diverse. I believe it is becoming more diverse than it was 4 years ago. I think the pre-PhD students and postdoctoral fellows are diverse at Mayo Clinic. I don’t let the level of diversity effect what I want to achieve in life. I have overcome many hurdles to get where I am today. It would be great if Mayo Clinic could recruit more females and ethic minority faculty members. Interview taken by Brittany Alexander (Intern of Office of Diveristy ) and Jessica Silva (Blog Manager and Grad Student)