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Why I March: Moments of discovery, inspiration in immeasurable doses

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Esmeralda Ramirez-Peña is an organizer and volunteer for March for Science Houston.  

As I complete my doctorate degree and prepare for the March for Science Houston,  I reflect on my scientific journey and on the moments that have shaped me into a scientist. I discovered that becoming a scientist isn’t only about designing the best experiment and obtaining the best results.

Moments of discovery do not only happen in a lab. For me, they also happened when I had the opportunity to share my knowledge; and I call this an “opportunity” with intent.

My favorite of these moments have been discussions with curious first graders about the DNA inside of our cells and how DNA is responsible for diversity. During these moments I discovered that a child and a scientist are no different because they both look at the world in amazement seeking answers unstoppably.

Other moments of discovery have occurred when I serendipitously introduced myself to a stranger as a student researching metastatic breast cancer and their eyes light up and proudly reply “I am a breast cancer survivor”.

Through-out my training, I have attended many scientific lectures by Nobel laureates and the “greats” in the field of cancer biology.  I have to confess that the most inspiration and the sense of civic duty have come from conversations with cancer patients. From these conversations I understood that people’s lives depend on scientific advances and that my own journey to make an impact is only beginning.

I will march on April 22nd because I have discovered that if I am to carry the title of a scientist, it is my obligation to share my knowledge, it is my obligation to seek answers, and it is my obligation to listen to the community that needs me.

I will march so that other scientists understand these obligations outside of the lab and I will march so that the community knows who I am and that I am here for them. Most importantly from deep within my heart, I march for all the Mexican immigrant girls pursuing STEM degrees so that they discover their own strength and fight for their dreams.

‍Esmeralda Ramirez-Peña




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