Scholar of the Week

Alicia Sanchez      
St. Mary's University

Alicia Sanchez is a Class of 2014 HENAAC Scholar receiving a $1,000 Davila/Treviño Family Memorial Scholarship. She is a senior pursuing her Biology and Mathematics degrees at St. Mary’s University. This is the second year Alicia has received a scholarship from the Davila and Trevino families.

Alicia migrated from Los Mochis, Sinaloa to Phoenix, AZ, with her parents and younger sister, who had cerebral palsy. It is her sister that has been her source of inspiration for her chosen field of study and career aspirations.

Alicia aspires to become a medical scientist and perform neurological research. As an R25 research student in the South Texas Advanced Research Training-Undergraduate (START-UP) Program, at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio she has already begun to establish herself with neuroscientists that could potentially collaborate with her in the future. She has conducted research in two neuroscience laboratories and attended neuroscience seminars, conferences, journal club meetings, and workshops geared towards allowing her to present scientific research. She has worked in Dr. Georgianna Gould’s Lab, comparing the social and repetitive behaviors in naïve C57BL/6 male mice from different suppliers. In Dr. Manzoor Bhat’s Lab, she has enhanced her immunocytochemistry and cryostat techniques to perform intra-cardiac perfusions, the removal of the mouse brain, spinal cord, and sciatic nerve, DNA extraction, PCR, gel electrophoresis, teasing sciatic nerves under the dissecting microscope, and sectioning tissue using a vibrotome.

Her professors characterizes her as a model student, with a strong mathematical foundation and a tenacity for drilling down into content matter, an important quality of a researcher. Scholastically, she has been on the Dean’s List, and received several scholarships including the AT&T Scholarship, USAA Service Scholarship, Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas Scholarship and UPS Scholarship September.

When not in class or in the lab, Alicia is an active member of Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Inc. She also volunteers at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America-Teen Center working with teenagers to promote education and awareness about biases, stereotypes, and virtues. She is a Team Up Challenge Scholar, a service-learning initiative, working in a local high school to design and develop a service project. She has worked with the Hispanic Youth Institute as an RA, during the summer, to support Hispanic high school students across the nation in order to encourage them to pursue a higher education, overcome educational and career barriers, become professionals, and give back to the community. She has volunteered at the child life department at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. She has reached out to a variety of patients, including those with neurological diseases.

She is also a student-athlete on the Women’s Cross Country Team.

Her peer describes Alicia as an “incredibly intelligent individual…relentless in achieving her goals. Alicia will go out into the world as a brilliant leader, and will make significant strides in scientific achievement.”

With her self-determination and nothing-is-going-to-stop-me attitude, Alicia looks forward to opening her own practice and serving the underserved community in ways that physician’s could not serve her sister, Hillary. She is a rising STEM innovator with a fascinating journey ahead of her in neural engineering and become the next MD/PhD to change the face of neuroscience.

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