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Project STRIDE

We expose and engage high school students in clinical research.

We expose and engage high school students in clinical research.

2020 Project STRIDE Cohort 

Afia Ahmed

My name is Afia Ahmed and I am a rising senior at the California Academy of Mathematics and Science. After taking biotechnology courses for the past two years, I’ve learned to love researching in a laboratory, and I aspire for a career in healthcare.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has piqued my interest in the spread of misinformation about diseases and the harmful effects that this spread has on society as a whole. With social media serving more and more as a “news source” for many people, I hope to raise awareness for medical misconceptions, as well as emphasize that medical misconceptions exist for a variety of diseases, from COVID-19 to cancer.

My goal, at the end of my research, is to create a resource that is easily accessible to anyone with an internet connection, as well as anyone with a social media account, that combats medical misconceptions with real data and statistics, but is still visually appealing to a variety of demographics. I am excited to be working with Professor Teklehaimanot on this project.

Jesse Amaya

My name is Jesse Amaya. I am a senior at King Drew Medical Magnet High School. I have a passion for psychology and I am interested in pursuing a career in that field because understanding the human mind is the key to truly healing the people around us.

My parents came to America from El Salvador to pursue a better life for them and me. They managed to give me a good life in Willowbrook, which is not far from the CDU. One thing I noticed growing up is how the people around me, from family to friends, neglect their mental wellbeing because they don’t have the privilege to focus on their mental health. I hope to help underprivileged people maintain their mental health.

Karla Cornejo Argueta

My name is Karla Cornejo Argueta, and I am an upcoming senior at Alliance Piera Barbaglia Shaheen Health Services Academy High School. I am interested in researching my community and what health policies can improve living conditions in neighborhoods where minorities live, and where poverty and disparities exist.


I am currently interested in pursuing a career as a biostatistician. As I was diving into a public health internship during my junior year of high school, my interest in improving the conditions of the communities interacting with and other communities that are struggling to have proper conditions grew.

I have been interested in research for over a year, and however, now I want to focus on something that can bring change. Through Project STRIDE, I will be working with Mr. Watkins and Mrs. Caffey-Fleming, researching specific public policies and their effects on the community.

Courtney Hammond

My name is Courtney Hammond, and I am a rising senior at King/Drew Medical Magnet High School. I found out about Project STRIDE through the Medical Careers Program at my school, where I did cancer research previously under Dr. Pervin.

My motivation for doing research is a mix of my family and my future career. I want to be a forensic scientist or a physician, and conducting research is an excellent experience to have because, in either of those positions, I would have to know how to look for data and apply it to my situation.

Growing up, my close family members all have various types of chronic illnesses, so I want to conduct research that could aid in finding a cure. This summer, I have been paired with Dr. Lockett to tackle the topic of global health. With the current pandemic, I would enjoy doing research that possibly finds ways to slow the spread of diseases.

Brooklyn Jackson

My name is Brooklyn Jackson, and I am a rising senior at Notre Dame Academy High School. I am interested in pursuing a career in medicine. Through my research, I plan to learn more about global health issues and how I can help the communities around me.

While getting to know more about Project STRIDE, I recognized that this was an opportunity for me to learn about different aspects of the medical field. I have learned through different volunteer and summer programs that I genuinely do want to be an aid to the people who need it most.

Even though my goal in the future is to become a pediatrician, I still want to take the time to learn and be of help to as many people I can, and this research program is taking me on the right path to becoming an excellent physician.

Iliana Nava 

My name is Iliana Nava, and I am a rising senior at King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science. During this program, I would like to research cancer, specifically, on the effect of inhibiting MCT4 for treating diseases with high levels of glycolysis and MCT4 expression.

Cancer has always been a significant and prominent health problem in my family, so I hope to conduct this research for the wellbeing of the people that I love and the community around me. I aspire to one day be a trauma surgeon. Although my research topic and my career aspirations do not correlate, I believe that this program will help me further my knowledge of medicine and help me achieve my goals.

Miracle Ogbonnaya 

My name is Miracle Ogbonnaya. I am a rising senior at King Drew Medical Magnet High School. I had never really been interested in research, and it is mostly because I never really realized what role research plays in the medical field.

I aspire to major in Pre-Med when I go to college so that I can one day become a Neonatologist. Now that I am in the Project STRIDE program, I think that I will be able to explore the area of research in the medical field and find out if it is something I can also include in my future career.

Research is something that can help change the lives of people, and I hope that through my experience in this program, I will be able to learn more about how I can also do the same in the future. This summer, I am working with Dr. Kermah and Ms. Bailey to conduct a research project on childhood trauma, and I am excited to see what I will be able to discover.

Daniela Perdomo

My name is Daniela Perdomo, and I am a rising senior at Alliance Piera Barbaglia Shaheen Health Services Academy. I want to pursue a career in political science because it will allow me to explore my interests in defending people's corresponding rights and ensuring they receive the justice they deserve during a crisis.

Minorities make up an underserving population that lacks access to health care. A career in political science will allow me to study many ways to advocate for people seeking access to health care, as well as resources that can be distributed to individuals who are disproportionately affected by certain diseases.

I am confident that I have the analytical ability and logical reasoning for my defendant's case within the health sciences, in which I am optimistic. As a participant of Project STRIDE, I will have the opportunity to learn more about health policies and be able to help others in low-income communities.

Cynthia Rojas 

My name is Cynthia Rojas, and I am a rising senior at the California Academy of Mathematics and Science. I am interested in clinical research, specifically regarding mental health.

My grandmother, whom I grew up with, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and although the disease took a toll on her everyday life, I believe mental health played a huge role in extending her life expectancy.

This summer, I will be working with Dr. Bazargan on a project related to the wellbeing of college students. In the future, I hope to attend medical school and work towards my dream career as an anesthesiologist. My long-term goal is to contribute to the research for a cure for Alzheimer's disease.

Daniela Torres 

My name is Daniela Torres, and I am currently a rising senior at King Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science. Although I am not sure of the career path I want to head in, it is clear that I want to pursue the medical field.

The medical field is continuously developing and expanding, and there are always new things to learn and new challenges to overcome. The most important aspect of the medical field that captivates me is the opportunity to help others.

The Medical Careers Program through my school has allowed me to see an immense variety of careers I am eager to explore. This research opportunity will expose me to an experience that could potentially impact my career path, defining my future. There are millions of questions to be answered, many of which can be answered through research.

Project STRIDE will create an opportunity in which I can research the relationship between the endoplasmic reticulum and the carf gene with the development of cancer, which I will be studying under Professor Hasan.

2020 Project STRIDE II

Luis Mancilla

My name is Luis Mancilla, and I am currently an undergraduate at the University of California, San Diego. My intended major is applied mathematics with interests in research. Previous research opportunities have enlightened me on the importance of understanding the health issues within vulnerable communities.

As part of the 2018 Cohort of Project STRIDE, I worked with Dr. Houston on an ongoing research project related to HIV/STD rates amongst African American and Latino young men who have sex with other men. This research opportunity has influenced me to take part in Project STRIDE II as an undergraduate to further my research knowledge.

I believe mental health is one of the most sensitive and least advocated health issues. Therefore, this year I will be working under Dr. Chavez, a psychologist who specializes in mental health, to understand the underlying stressors for particular communities or groups that leads to mental illnesses.

Alondra Mendez 

My name is Alondra Mendez, and I am a rising junior at the University of California, Los Angeles, with an intended major in Psychobiology and a double minor in Chicana and Chicano Studies and Global Health.

As a high school student, I participated in Project STRIDE. I had the opportunity to research breast cancer development with a focus on the effects of nicotine and high fat. This experience provided me the opportunity to learn about laboratory techniques and procedures; it gave me the confidence and skills necessary to both enter and succeed in my laboratory courses at UCLA.

Now, as an undergraduate in Project STRIDE II, I plan on continuing to research this area. I am studying the role of specific genes in cancer cell proliferation pathways to understand this disease better. I look forward to gaining new experiences and knowledge about research.

My long term goal is to enroll in graduate school with a focus on Public Health. I believe this research opportunity will serve as an educational experience that will provide me with resources and support to continue my journey in pursuit of a career in the health field.