Good evening. I am Daniela Barbosa. I graduated Guadalupe Regional Middle school in 2011.
It’s funny how it all started…
As we all may know, Brother Arthur is a very serious person. I had never seen him smile. Not in sixth, seventh, or even eighth grade. Little six grade me, feared him… Terrified. A day before I took my first science exam with him, I begged my mom to get me out of Guadalupe. But like all mothers, she knew what was best for me, and she told me to relax, believe in myself. Take the exam, and if after that I didn't want to be in Guadalupe, only then could I switch to a public school. I took the exam, and after receiving my scores, I decided to stay.
Guadalupe held annual science fairs. These were opportunities for me to play with my silly dream of being a scientist. You would think that an aspiring scientist would do well at a science fair, or at least I thought that. But it was hard. I didn't know what to research or even where to start. I tried, and tried to be one of the top competitors. But every time, I was unable to win anything but a ribbon to commend my effort, my participation. I felt like a failure.
Speaking of failure, I thought I was destined for these kinds of experiences. I was a Latina -- a poor, small-town Hispanic girl from the Valley. I was of low socioeconomic status, to the point where my family ate almost the same meals for days. My father had only a high school education; my mom had even less. I thought that my fate was predetermined by my culture, and that success was meant for the elite in our society.
Guadalupe was my turning point. They shared their gift of caring throughout the community, especially the students from GRMS. I remember waddling every Thursday from Guadalupe’s gym to my car with a basket filled with nonperishable food to take home. I didn’t realize how important that food basket was for my family… It made some of my meals for the week, and put something in the kitchen cabinets.
Furthermore, Guadalupe gave me the strength to fight for my education with their lovely staff, encouraging teachers, coordinators, and principle. They focused on making sure we were close to our roots, as Hispanics, to never forget our family, to always have hope, but especially, to have faith. GRMS implemented into all of us that a strong education is key for our success, that hard work pays off in the end, but most importantly, they gave me their full support throughout my career.
Guadalupe's support has snowballed into a series of fortunate events, an adventure that I call my success story. Now, I am studying Biomedical Sciences at the University of Texas - Rio Grande Valley. I joined the RISE program as a freshman and have been doing research in a bioengineering lab ever since. The summer of my freshman year, I landed a research internship at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. There, I learned independence, and found my passion for research. After that, I landed another summer internship at Brown University, an Ivy League school in Providence, Rhode Island. This summer I was accepted to five different summer research internships: University of Iowa, University of Virginia, Baylor College of Medicine, UT Southwestern, and UPenn. After reviewing all the summer internships and getting accepted into my top choice, I’m thrilled to become part of UT Southwestern’s 2018 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship.
I feel lucky to have landed these research opportunities, but my success story doesn’t end there. As a researcher, we attend national science conferences where we present our research and network with great minds across the country. Out of the already bright individuals that make up the conference attendees, many scientists are awarded based off the quality of their research. Mind you, I was once a middle school girl who never won a science fair. That made me even more excited when I was awarded not one but two national conferences -- ABRCMS and SACNAS.
Looking back, I didn't realize how something as small as food baskets could become something so big. They nourished me, not just as a person who needs food to eat, but as a human who needs an occasional nudge, a little push that says, "Hey, you can do this." All of you may experience doubt -- the belief that for some reason, however ridiculous it might be, that you are not enough to accomplish things on a grand scale. But I can tell you, if Guadalupe can turn me, a once-scared small-town girl who feared things like being hungry and Brother Arthur's exams, I can tell you that at Guadalupe, you can go places. All you need is great friends, family, and a lot of hard work.
I’d like to thank Guadalupe all its funders, donors and partners because if it wasn’t for every person sitting in this room, I wouldn’t be here today in front of you sharing a part of my life.