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Resilience & Representation

Alexxandra grew up splitting her time between her parents’ home in Lakewood and her grandmother’s home in Compton. Although she was not the most enthusiastic student early on, that all changed when she took her first chemistry course. Suddenly, she was top of her class, winning awards and receiving invitations to exclusive (and, unfortunately, prohibitively expensive) pre-med programs.

Despite her obvious talent and passion, Alexxandra was told pursuing a career in STEM would be too challenging alongside the job she needed to pay for her education at California State Long Beach. She knew she wanted to study biology, but she also knew that Latinx students make up only 11% of medical school graduates in California. She needed support, and she found it through America Needs You.

“I always wanted to pursue STEM. I always wanted to be a scientist or a doctor. And I was always discouraged. ANY helped me flourish.

I did not know how to get into a research lab or even advocate for myself. I was like, what?! I’m not going to go and just brag to some random person. But you have to look at it differently. Now, if someone were to come to me in the street and say, ‘Tell me about what you do. Make it two minutes.’ I can do that because of ANY.” 

At ANY, Alexxandra built life-changing relationships, like the one she has with her Mentor Coach, Tasmin. Tasmin has not only helped demystify the world of medical research, she is currently going through the medical school application process; a process Alexxandra plans to begin next Fall. With her support, Alexxandra has secured an internship in regenerative medicine where she will receive stem cell training and access to an entirely new network of doctors.

“It’s my dream come true that I’m actually going to be in a lab. I still can’t believe it.”

Even as she works to overcome the statistics, Alexxandra is thinking about how she can help others do the same. She currently helps middle school students with their Intro to Biology coursework, providing the encouragement and the representation she never had.

“I’m the first but not the last. I want to make a pathway, let others in so we can have more inclusion and diversity in the fields of medicine, academic medicine, and STEM. People should have opportunities, there shouldn’t be any gatekeeping. The reality is there are a lot of challenges, and if I can help others through my experiences, that would be great, even if it’s something small.”

Support ambitious students like Alexxandra and help us build a more equitable future by making a tax-deductible donation to America Needs You.

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