August 10, 2009

Diverse Tex-Mex Pre-doctoral Student in cancer genetic research: Jessica Monique Silva



Please enjoy my interview............... 🙂

Click on the link to hear the interview or silva-interview.  (If you have difficulty viewing the movie, please try this link: silva-interview-v6.)

If there are any new or interested graduate students out there with questions PLEASE ask away! Also, new graduate students (MGS, MSHS, MMS, MCME, MSGME, or others)....good luck on taking your first grad courses and remember it may seem hard and you may stop to think if you belong in grad school...but dont worry, YOU DO, we all go through this! Just keep your head lifted high and push through it.

 If you have problems opening the is a quick and nice summary of video!


When did you start work/school at Mayo Clinic? 2004 participated as a SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship) in Rochester, then came back 2006 as Pre-doctoral student

How did you become interested in or hear about Mayo Clinic? I heard about Mayo Clinic when I worked as a student technician in a medical oncology laboratory at UTHSCSA (University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio) while in college. I then applied to be a SURF! 

What do you do here at Mayo Clinic? What is your area of specialty? Currently, I am a fourth year pre-doctoral student in the BMB department with my focus in Cancer Biology (Genetics). My area of interest is focusing on identifying new novel long non-coding transcripts which I term NNK-induced transcripts (NiTs) and their association with cancer. 

Do you participate in any organizations, societies, clubs, memberships, professions at Mayo Clinic and/or Rochester community? At Mayo Clinic I participate in the IMSD program and manage the best blog in the world!? (By this I mean the Diversity Blog…for those of you falling to sleep…ha). In the Rochester Community, I am a Nursery Minister and a Social Justice Minister at Pax Christi Church. I am also a member of American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) and a proud Cambridge Who’s Who Member among Executives, Professionals, and Entrepreneurs. 

How does working at Mayo Clinic Rochester location differ from your hometown or where you attended school? Well, where do I begin…1.) I hadn’t seen snow since I was 5 years old!!! Yup, this poor little Tex-Mex girl has been freezing her tush off here in Minnesota. I was actually known as the “crazy Texan girl who was taking pictures in the snow” during Mayo Graduate School’s interview weekend. It has been very cold here in Roch but I have become a little more accustomed to it as the years fly by. 2.) Rochester community is very different than San Antonio. It is predominantly Mexican American population with lots of culture and great Mexican food! Not to say Newt’s hamburgers aren’t great, but you need to go up to the cities (Minneapolis) to get some flavor! I tend to put lots of pepper and jalapenos on everything I eat 🙂 

Do you consider yourself diverse? Well, do you think I’m diverse???…………I love Country, Spanish Rock, Mariachi, Tejano, and Hip-Hop music. I own two pairs of cowboy boots (one is made of lizard) and several cowgirl hats. I love archery (I have a hot pink bow with matching arrows) and have been to the shooting range. I can dance to just about anything salsa, tango, waltz, swing, hip hop, cumbias, etc. The majority of my sentences contain “Ya’ll”, “Porecito/a”, “Si/No”, “Mija”, “Darling” or “Sangwich”; not in the same sentence of course and not in that order. (ha) I talk really loudly and I use insane gestures with my hands when I talk. I love science and own the Journal of Science’s Human Genome Project T-shirt that has Chromosome 1 covering it entirely! (It’s pretty awesome!) Finally, I love cooking and I love eating very spicy foods!!! I think that’s fits me……Tex-Mex Woman in Science!

What types of hardships or hurdles did you have to overcome to get your education or profession at Mayo Clinic? Well, to begin I didn’t grow up with lots of money; my parents divorced when I was very young and we moved into our grandmother’s house in a pretty bad neighborhood. I started working to support myself when I was 16 years old and continued working full time throughout college until I came to Mayo. My mother was also diagnosed with cervical cancer while I was in college and I took very good care of her. (She has been cancer free for 7 years now!!!) Although, there were many hurdles and hardships throughout my journey to get to Mayo, my strong religious beliefs and lots of love and support from family, friends, and great mentors allowed me to be where I am today. 

How has being from a diverse background helped you succeed in getting your education or profession at Mayo Clinic? I am a recipient of the AACR Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award. I am also an IMSD fellow and I run this blog…….woohoo! 

Coming from a diverse background, do you feel that people treat you different at Mayo Clinic or Rochester, MN? Honestly, YES of course. Not always in a negative manner but if there is a program, group, committee, or club that contains anything to do with minority students (being the only Mexican in the graduate school...currently) my name tends to be called upon. I’m just extremely happy that I enjoy being an advocate and I have a very good way of getting my voice heard! In Rochester….lets just say, I stand out in a crowd. 

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. I don’t think diversity plays a huge role in the education I am receiving. I think I am fortunate to have been accepted into the Mayo graduate school program and think they push all of us to be the best we can actually be and even better. The IMSD program however, does stand out in the aspect that we get to meet several successful researchers and doctors of diverse backgrounds. We also have a very nice community of diverse students who get to come together and help each other out. 

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.  Mayo Clinic is diverse, with people coming from all over the world….Rochester not so much. I do think the graduate school has some diverse students but I can count them in one hand. I think it would be nice to see more familiar brown beautiful faces; however I think the times are changing and things will hopefully be different in the future. One thing to note…is that there are many females compared to males in the program, which I think personally, is awesome!! YOU GO GIRLS!! 

If you have any other comments/points/reflections about diversity, education or Mayo Clinic please use this space to comment. With all in all said above, Rochester may not be the most diverse place, may not have the best enchiladas verdes or tamales, and may not be the sunniest or hottest place in the world. However, the WFMC (World Famous Mayo Clinic) is located in Rochester and the best graduate program, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine Graduate School, is in Rochester so what else could you ask for…there’s low crime rate, no traffic, you can get anywhere in 5 minutes, all roads/buses lead to Mayo, its inexpensive to live, and if all this doesn’t help you can always go to Mayo Jacksonville or Mayo Scottsdale locations! ….One thing to note is that you will get the best education here at Mayo, whether it is in medicine or basic science, and this will always open many doors for you in the future!! 

 Your TEX-MEX Queen, Jessica Monique Silva   

Updated: 8/12/09

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