Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

 
 

In observance of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15), St. Jude spotlights the contribution of Hispanic employees and graduate students who bring their talent, passion and expertise to further the lifesaving mission of St. Jude.

 
 

 

Francisco Correa

Franciso Correa

National heritage: Mexican
Audience and User Experience Specialist - ALSAC

When Francisco discovered ALSAC 6 years ago, he didn't have to think twice before deciding that he wanted to dedicate himself to supporting the mission of St. Jude. He takes it upon himself to study the audiences that see or hear St. Jude’s messages, and offer them a web experience that is relevant and interesting. He says it’s difficult to find another organization with such a worthy, humane and necessary mission.

Francisco easily finds the inspiration to work every day. Having the opportunity to meet with families and patients and being able to observe how they cope with their treatment puts everything into perspective. "It feeds you emotionally and makes you feel that you have to give more of yourself to move any project forward and get better results.”

Although he is proud of his heritage, he also identifies himself more as a person of this country, but with a distinct set of attributes and values. Among them, the pride of speaking two languages and being part of a community that has an extremely rich and diverse musical heritage and that values family and friendship in a special way. He also has a deep appreciation for social gatherings and dancing.

"We are not foreigners, we are from here," says Francisco. "We love this country and we have always been willing to defend this land. We have also been part of important and historical changes, technological advances and cultural richness.”

As an example of the Mexican-American cultural duality that exists in his own home and in many others, he points out how interesting it is to celebrate American festivities, adding his special touch. "You end up assimilating the traditions of where you live, but at the same time you bring your own cultural traditions and experiences," said Francisco.

Hispanic Heritage Month has a special meaning for him because it is a good opportunity to recognize Hispanics in this country for their great contributions.


 

Mariangeles Grear

Mariangeles Grear

National heritage: Venezuelan
Development Specialist - ALSAC

Mariangeles was given a second chance at life at age 12, when after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in her home country, Venezuela, she was given only one week to live. Fortunately, she met a doctor who had ties to St. Jude and immediately referred her there for treatment. Since then, the feeling of giving back to ALSAC and St. Jude a little of what they gave her is near and present to her.

At St. Jude, she was given a very small chance of survival. Her doctor, however, called it "a miracle" because when she woke up after a coma, the amount of cancer cells in her body were almost non-existent.

She says that her experience as a patient connects her in a very special way to her work. That appreciation naturally led her to start working at ALSAC in the Memphis office over three years ago.

She is currently involved in 18 fundraising programs, which includes organizing dinners, galas, radiothons, golf tournaments, the St. Jude Leadership Society and Up ‘til Dawn.

Mariangeles enjoys playing tennis and sharing with her family and friends. "For me, being Hispanic is representing the culture and taking pride in my heritage," she said. She says that what makes her most proud is being able to carry the message she carries in her heart, in two languages.

For Mariangeles, working at ALSAC goes far beyond a salary, a degree or a schedule. For her, it's about helping the hospital continue to save lives. "I do dream, like Danny Thomas dreamed, that one day the hospital will close because there is no more cancer," said Mariangeles.

Today, her deep passion and appreciation is reflected in everything she does. As proof of this, more than 200 young students who were raising funds for St. Jude as part of her Up til Dawn program gave her an award with her name: "The Mariangeles Grear Legacy Award," a moment she remembers with great pride.


 

Thelma Velasquez Herrera, MD

Thelma Herrera

National heritage: Guatemalan
Pediatric Hemato-Oncologist
Unidad Nacional de Oncologia Pediatrica, Guatemala City, Guatemala
Master in Global Child Health student

Thelma Velasquez Herrera, MD, has had a relationship with St. Jude for years. The hospital where she works, Unidad Nacional de Oncologia Pediatrica in Guatemala City, Guatemala, is one of 24 St. Jude partner sites around the world.

As a student in the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Graduate School Global Child Health master’s program, Velasquez Herrera has enjoyed learning about the “global” aspects of the management of pediatric cancer: namely the components that rely on international, national, governmental and institutional policies. She hopes to use this newfound knowledge to improve the treatment of pediatric cancer in Guatemala.

St. Jude has been the image of excellence in clinical treatment and research for childhood cancer,” she says. “St. Jude offers excellent facilities, access to world-renowned faculty and the benefit of training online while still being able to work. When I learned about the wonderful opportunity to gain a Master’s in Global Child Health degree, I decided without a doubt that I wanted to do it.”

Velasquez Herrera says that completing her degree will be one of the biggest achievements of her career.

St. Jude has created an environment of cultural diversity that is completely inclusive and prioritizes partnership and friendship among students across the world,” she says. “I can’t think of another center that would be able to create this incredible atmosphere of learning and collaboration.”



Adriana María Porras Moreno, MD

Adriana Moreno

National heritage: Costa Rican
General Medical Doctor
National Children Hospital, San Jose, Costa Rica
Master in Global Child Health student

Growing up with orthopedic shoes and correction bands on her legs, Adriana María Porras Moreno, MD, knew that she wanted to be a doctor. She wanted to help other children like her get the treatment they needed. Porras Moreno is one of the members of the first cohort of students in the Global Child Health master’s program.

St. Jude is a very prestigious and renowned institution,” she says. “This program has provided me a solid foundation to start building more skills to help improve the treatment options for children in Costa Rica.”

Porras Moreno hopes that her time at St. Jude will reveal a deeper insight into independent research methods. She wants to ultimately grow her career, focusing on global health and increasing the treatment options available for children in low- and middle-income countries.

“There are limited options in Costa Rica to gain more formal academic training,” she says. “Being able to engage with so many experienced researchers in the environment that St. Jude has created has been the perfect next step for me.”


 

Alvis Otero, MBA/TM

Alvis Otero

National heritage: Puerto Rican
Development and International Relations - ALSAC

Alvis has lived in the United States for over 20 years, but even before coming to this country, she has been actively involved in the world of volunteering. As she developed in that field, she had a vision that would bring her to ALSAC to educate other foundations on how to raise funds. She is convinced that St. Jude's mission is much more important than what you might want as an individual.

Helping others has always been a part of her life, so she has sought to elevate a message of equality in everything she does. She firmly believes that education and knowledge are fundamental to achieving that equality.

Alvis' focus is on training her colleagues who are helping children suffering from cancer around the world, in countries where the same resources are not available as in the United States.

In one of the programs she has collaborated on, she teaches foundation recipients around the world about fundraising so they can take ideas and implement them in their communities. "It's very rewarding because I know that in some little corner of the world, a child is smiling because they have access to treatments that their hospital can strategically provide now," said Alvis.

Alvis is convinced that even though we may never see the impact of our contribution up close, the purpose of helping others is to focus on the little things we can do, our “grain of sand” as she calls it, to make humanity a little better.

For her, to be Hispanic is to feel pride in her roots, to know the value of love, to be humble and to help everyone be better. She is most proud of having had the opportunity to learn her culture’s values and the ability to love life deeply and passionately.


 

Ana Vazquez-Pagan

Ana Pagan

National heritage: Puerto Rican
PhD student in the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Graduate School

Ana Vazquez-Pagan remembers visiting St. Jude for the first time and being in awe. She has grown up watching the commercials with her grandmother and seeing her donate to the hospital.

“I’ve always wanted to help others,” she says. “Since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to work at an institution that shared my goals. I was so moved when I walked the halls of the hospital and saw the patient artwork and the Puerto Rican flag in the Danny Thomas Research Center. I knew this was where I wanted to be.”

In her hometowns of Caguas and San Juan, Vazquez-Pagan saw first-hand how the H1N1 pandemic affected her family and how difficult it was for people to recover from their illnesses. This experience motivated her to join the lab of Stacey Schultz-Cherry, PhD, in the Department of Infectious Diseases. She is studying how influenza virus infection affects high-risk groups. She has also been able to help with the hospital’s efforts to screen employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve always wanted to make my family and my island proud,” she says. “I want others with my heritage to know that there is an opportunity for them at a place like St. Jude. I used to dream about working here and today I’m doing what I love most at a top-notch research institution.”


 

Javier Peña

Javier Pena

National heritage: Venezuelan
Bilingual Video Producer - ALSAC

Javier has an extensive educational background in music and TV production that began in his birth country of Venezuela and ended in the United States, where he has lived for more than 20 years. In addition to his valuable experience, Javier is convinced that a greater force than himself and a series of signs showed him that St. Jude was where he needed to be. When he entered the hospital for the first time, he felt what he describes as a magnetic force pulling him in. He fell in love with the mission and immediately thought, "God is telling me that this is where I need to be.”

Currently, he is in charge of production for Spanish language TV commercials and feels it is a great privilege to be able to combine his greatest passions: TV production and music composition. As a passionate musician, he lives under the premise that although not everyone is called to play an instrument or sing, anyone can apply the principles of music to their life; on a personal level, at work and in their interpersonal relationships.

In recent years, he has dedicated himself to studying in-depth the relationship between music and emotions, which has shown him the influence music has on the decisions we make. He believes that our reaction to music reflects a map that is in our hearts.

Regarding the process of producing St. Jude’s commercials, Javier emphasizes the importance of listening with the heart instead of the ears. He believes that authenticity is the most important tool to create the empathy, compassion and generosity that must always be present when producing a video. In addition, he composes the music to draw out emotions he wants people to feel.

Javier believes that maintaining the concept of family, as well as constant communication, is one of his favorite Hispanic traditions. For him, being Hispanic in the United States means giving your best every day to make this country better.


 
  1. Miguel Betances

    Miguel Betances

    National heritage: Dominican
    Software engineer – ALSAC

    Because of his experience as a patient, Miguel feels an even deeper connection to St. Jude, which makes it even more meaningful to him to pursue a career with ALSAC. As part of the technology team, Miguel develops solutions to help make it easier and more rewarding for people to learn about St. Jude and support its lifesaving mission.

     “After years of seeing my doctors and specialists use their St. Jude employee ID, it was a surreal experience for me to receive mine,” Miguel says. “I wear it with pride every day”.

    Among his most satisfying career achievements, Miguel cherishes the moment when his technology team asked him to make the first donation through a new system he helped develop. As Miguel said, "As a St. Jude survivor, it was an honor to be part of this new release and look closely at this organization's commitment to continue raising funds to find cures and treat patients around the world."


     

    Emmeline Garcia

    Emmeline Garcia

    National heritage: Mexican and American 
    Senior Liaison, Radio Development Operations Field Development – ALSAC

    Emmeline first heard about St. Jude while working at Univision Radio in El Paso, Texas, helping to coordinate the radiothons that move so many people to help the children relying on St. Jude. That led to a role with ALSAC as part of the Radio team growing Promesa y Esperanza, the fundraising and awareness program within the Hispanic community.

    “When the opportunity to work for St. Jude arose, I didn't think I was going to move to Memphis,” said Emmeline. "But after visiting the hospital, I felt I was more than ready to move."

    Almost 10 years later, Emmeline enjoys giving tours of St. Jude herself, providing the same moving experience to celebrities and donors who visit St. Jude. As Emmeline said, "For me, it is an honor to be part of their visits and witness how St. Jude and its comprehensive patient care exceeds all their expectations."


     

    Victoria Honnell

    Victoria Honnell

    National heritage: Mexican/Spanish
    Graduate School Student

    Victoria Honnell learned about St. Jude at a young age. Her parents were monthly donors and received mail from the hospital.

    “I love the mission,” she says. “It’s a mission everybody can get behind.”

    After growing up in New Mexico, Honnell moved to Memphis to attend Rhodes College. During her senior year, she began a student position at St. Jude that eventually transitioned into a full-time research technologist job working on preclinical trials for rhabdomyosarcoma. After being offered a spot in the inaugural class of the St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, she knew she wanted to stay.

    In June of 2019, Honnell earned a master’s degree as a member of the first graduating class at the St. Jude Graduate School.

    While she misses the culture and food of New Mexico, as well as being around many other Hispanic families, she says she appreciates the rich history of Memphis and loves how quickly the city is growing.

    In her work, Honnell is continually motivated by St. Jude patients and families. While most of her time is spent in the lab, she enjoys how the graduate school coursework has given her more clinical opportunities through following doctors and their patients.

    “At the end of the day, you never forget why you’re here,” she says. “It’s really rewarding knowing the work you’re doing could influence patients’ lives.”


     

    Barbara Mari

    Barbara Mari

    National heritage: Puerto Rican
    Senior Philanthropic Advisor

    Barbara has always been passionate about public relations, event planning and learning about different cultures.  By raising funds and awareness for St. Jude through ALSAC, she found a way to develop her career and further her father’s wish for a world where no child would suffer from cancer, just as he suffered.

    In her time at ALSAC, Barbara has cultivated relationships with St. Jude supporters by coordinating events to raise funds in the Hispanic community, including the FedEx/St. Jude Angels & Stars Gala in Miami. Barbara currently works in Gift Planning, visiting generous people in South Florida determined to help children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

    “It is a privilege for me to hear firsthand what motivates these people to be part of the mission of St. Jude,” said Barbara, “as well as making sure they know that, through their contributions, they are becoming part of the history of St. Jude and the fight against childhood cancer.”


     

    Victor Santana, MD

    Victor Santana

    National heritage: Puerto Rican
    Member, St. Jude Faculty; Senior Vice President, Clinical Trials Administration; Associate Director of Clinical Research, Comprehensive Cancer Center; Charles B. Pratt Chair in Solid Tumor Research

    Victor Santana, MD, was in medical school at the University of Puerto Rico when he first heard about the groundbreaking clinical trials available at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital that were curing children with cancer.

    “From then on, I knew I needed to go to St. Jude if I wanted to advance my career and become a clinical investigator in pediatric hematology-oncology,” he says.

    Once he arrived, Santana realized St. Jude is dedicated not just to curing cancer but to taking care of the whole patient including the relationships between the medical, psychosocial and spiritual needs. After growing up in Puerto Rico, he has an interesting perspective on treating Hispanic patients as well as those of other racial and ethnic backgrounds.

    “I feel that my heritage has made me a better physician,” he says. “When you treat patients who are different from you, it makes you more sensitive to the cultural aspects that impact how you provide medical care.”

    In the 35 years Santana has been at St. Jude, he has had the opportunity to take on many roles, from clinician to investigator to administrator. Holding such diverse positions has kept him intellectually motivated and challenged him to look at things from different perspectives. Not only has he grown personally, but he has seen how the institution has developed.

    “One of the changes I’ve noticed is an increased sensitivity to cultural issues,” he says. “It’s amazing the support we have here for families of all backgrounds and cultures.”


     
  2. Angela K. Carrillo Alocén, PhD

    Angela K. Carrillo Alocén, PhD

    National heritage: Peruvian
    Clinical Research Associate I

    When Angela K. Carrillo Alocén, PhD, first joined St. Jude, she knew she could contribute to important discoveries in oncology and infectious diseases in her role as a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Chemical Biology and Therapeutics. Six years later, the Lima, Perú, native continues that work but with a worldwide view as a clinical research associate.

    “Since I’m from Perú this means a lot to me,” she says. “The Latin American region will benefit greatly from the guidance and assistance that St. Jude can provide. As a scientist, there was a long process until my research discoveries could reach sick children. In this job, however, what I do has a direct impact on the health care and lives of children globally.”

    Carrillo Alocén collaborates with physicians at approximately 30 Latin American hospitals, assisting them in the implementation of quality improvement, therapeutic and non-therapeutic clinical research. Much of this research has never been done in these countries, meaning it is truly groundbreaking.

    “We have the mission to take St. Jude to the world,” she says. “This won’t be an easy task, but we have made great progress. We aren’t just trying to implement St. Jude protocols, but we want to adjust them according to the needs and the realities of these hospitals and countries so they can be successful.”


     

    Sandra Da Silva

    Sandra da Silva

    National heritage: Venezuelan
    Administrative Assistant II

    More than two years ago, Sandra Da Silva found a home in Memphis when she and her husband left behind the economic crisis crippling their home country of Venezuela. And it was at St. Jude that she discovered her mission when she joined the Department of Global Pediatric Medicine earlier this year.

    “What inspires me most in my work is knowing that the small contribution I can make each day with my colleagues is helping St. Jude achieve our goal,” she says. “Our team is incredibly passionate and dedicated to saving the lives of children around the world.”

    Da Silva met a Venezuelan doctor earlier this year who told her about the difficulties he faces in treating children because getting medicine to the country is problematic. But even when he has it, some patients can’t receive treatment because they’re too malnourished.

    “He was looking for ways to help with meals and treatments for families so that he could carry out the protocols,” she says. “That conversation helped me see that there is a reason I’m here at St. Jude, and that I’m going to do what I can to help prevent more children from dying from cancer and other catastrophic illnesses in Venezuela as well as any country in the world.”


     

    Alejandra Gonzalez Ruiz, MD, MIH

    Alejandra Gonzalez Ruiz, MD, MIH

    National heritage: Mexican
    Project Coordinator, Critical Care, EVAT

    Alejandra Gonzalez Ruiz first learned about St. Jude from a piece of mail: a donation request from ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness arm of St. Jude.

    “While I was a physician in Mexico, I had a patient with HIV,” she says. “I saw the stigma that surrounded her treatment and I decided that I had to do something for her and for any patient that needed help. Years later, I received some mail that featured a child from Mexico that inspired me to learn more about the hospital. I wanted to know what else I could do to help.”

    Once Gonzalez Ruiz learned more about St. Jude, she was moved by the vision of founder Danny Thomas.

    “Everyone should have access to health care no matter where you’re from, your economic status or your heritage,” she says. “I feel like everyone at St. Jude is driven by this same goal. Coming here every day doesn’t feel like work—it feels like passion.”

    Working as a project coordinator for the hospital’s Critical Care Unit, Gonzalez Ruiz helps to train physicians and nurses from partner sites in countries around the world to use an early warning system (EVAT) developed by Asya Agulnik, MD, Assistant Member from St. Jude. This system is designed not only to make patient care safer and more effective, but also to minimize costs at those institutions.


     

    Alisha Gray, MPH

    Alisha Gray, MPH

    National heritage: Puerto Rican and Salvadorian 
    Project Coordinator, Sub-Saharan Africa Region and Disease Burden and Simulation Unit

    Alisha Gray, MPH, finds inspiration in stories, specifically the ones that are written daily at St. Jude. But in addition to Danny Thomas’ dream that “no child should die in the dawn of life,” she finds inspiration in the hospital’s place in history.

    “I did a deep dive in terms of trying to better understand why St. Jude was created, and I also discovered that Danny Thomas had another serious goal,” she says. “He wanted doctors, nurses and researchers of color here. That’s huge, especially in the South and at that time. Moving that forward is super inspiring to me.”

    As project coordinator for both the Sub-Saharan Africa Region and the Disease Burden and Simulation Unit, Gray works at the heart of numerous initiatives that will expand pediatric oncology care to low- and middle-income countries. That includes the creation of a pediatric cancer registry that will track patients and help hospitals better understand what resources are needed.

    “It’s a combination of a tool for patient tracking and quality improvement that will empower other countries to improve their care,” Gray says. “I believe in this vision.”


     

    Ana Shuler

    Ana Shuler

    National heritage: Mexican
    Cure4Kids Member Services and Live Events Coordinator

    On Ana Shuler’s first day in Memphis, she was immediately drawn to St. Jude. “I saw the hospital as we were crossing the Mississippi river and I had to know more about that incredible place. Once I started reading about St. Jude, I knew that I had to work here.”

    In the 17 years she has since dedicated to St. Jude, Shuler has been working with a global focus in mind. Early in her tenure, Shuler was promoted to the Cure4Kids team, where she has worked for the past 16 years. Cure4Kids is a web-based platform that provides online medical education and operates as a collaboration and information exchange for health care providers around the world. In her current role, Shuler supports more than 2,100 members worldwide in both English and Spanish and coordinates more than 180 live web conferences each month.

    “Being able to provide support to the Cure4Kids collaborative groups to improve the care needed to effectively treat children worldwide has been amazing,” she says. “I like to feel as though I’m making a difference. Knowing that the training that we provide can positively impact the care of children in low- and middle-income countries is incredible. I like being part of our vision that every child with cancer has access to quality care no matter where they live in the world.”


     

    Cesar Villegas, MD

    Cesar Villegas, MD

    National heritage: Venezuelan
    Clinical Research Associate III

    Cesar Villegas, MD, was first drawn to St. Jude by the stories he heard from survivors. 

    “I have had the opportunity to interact with families whose children were St. Jude patients in my previous experience as a surgeon in Venezuela,” he says. “The way that the families talked about St. Jude was inspiring. It was intriguing for me because they were more than thankful for everything that St. Jude did for them. It made me wonder: what was this hospital, and what can I do to work there?”

    Initially working in the Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control, Villegas recently moved to the new Department of Global Pediatric Medicine. There, he coordinates and implements projects focused on pediatric leukemia in low- and middle-income countries.

    “I was drawn to St. Jude because how they combine basic science, treatment, patient care and research is unique,” he says. “There’s no place like this. I love being able to work with survivors and find out what happened with them. What were the consequences of their treatment, what did they go through, and what obstacles are they facing now? I’ve worked for other institutions and nothing compares to the research that we’re doing here. Because of St. Jude Global, I have the opportunity to give back to patients in low- and middle-income countries and I’m so excited about that.”


     
  3. Fabiola Alarcón-Varkevisser

    Fabiola Alarcón-Varkevisser (right) visiting our partner site in Costa Rica.

    Fabiola Alarcón-Varkevisser (right) visiting our partner site in Costa Rica.

    National heritage: Mexican
    Liaison, Radio Development | ALSAC

    “I think that I get to meet the best of humanity in this work,” said Fabiola, who has worked for 14 years at ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude.

    When Fabiola was growing up in Tecate, Mexico, the little nephew of a family friend got cancer. His family initially couldn’t find him treatment, but when they were able to send him to St. Jude, the news spread quickly. “It always stuck with me,” she says.  

    As part of her work for ALSAC, Fabiola has visited several partner sites in Latin America to help train them on the St. Jude model, an experience she describes as the highlight of her career. “I could see for the first time how St. Jude was this hospital without walls,” she said. “It was life-changing for me.”


     

    Gabriela "Gaby" Maron Alfaro, MD

    Gabriela "Gaby" Maron Alfaro, MD, and patient Camila

    Gabriela "Gaby" Maron Alfaro, MD, and patient Camila

    National heritage: Salvadorian
    Assistant Member, St. Jude faculty ǀ Infectious Diseases

    Gaby Maron Alfaro, MD, remembers the first time she learned about St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. She was a pediatric resident at Hospital Nacional de Niños Benjamin Bloom, El Salvador – the first international site to partner with St. Jude.

    “I knew St. Jude was exactly where I wanted to train,” Maron Alfaro says. More than a decade later, she uses her training as a clinician and researcher to prevent, detect and cure infections in children with life-threatening diseases.

    Maron Alfaro says, “Seeing children who at some point were extremely sick with severe infections doing well is the most inspiring and wonderful feeling ever.”

    Last year, Maron Alfaro completed the requirements to become a certified translator for patients and families with a limited proficiency in English. While Maron Alfaro extends care to families from around the world, she says, "I have a very special place in my heart for our St. Jude Latino families.” 


     

    Gerardo Cantú

    Gerardo Cantú showing St. Jude pride.

    National heritage: Mexican
    Sr. Liaison, Marketing Data and Technology | ALSAC

    On Jerry’s first day in Memphis, after moving there as a child, his father told him the story of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas as they drove past the hospital. "I relate to Danny Thomas being the son of immigrants, even though I was not born in the United States like him," said Jerry who grew up in Monterrey, Mexico.

    Jerry joined ALSAC eight years ago as part of the Donor Services team, answering calls from donors. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of positions, and now he works on innovative solutions to serve marketing with technology. But his favorite things about working at ALSAC are the people, and the opportunities to serve.

    “What I like most is volunteering, especially in the places that host the patients and their families,” he said. “Having contact with the patients and their families is very gratifying.”


     

    Marta Jarquin-Pardo, PhD

    Marta Jarquin-Pardo, PhD

    Marta Jarquin-Pardo, PhD, is managing projects to boost cure rates for pediatric cancers in Central and South America.

    National heritage: Costa Rican
    Program Manager, Global Pediatric Medicine

    Marta Jarquin-Pardo, PhD,  a program manager in Global Pediatric Medicine, uses her scientific and management skills to extend the St. Jude mission to other parts of the world. Eighty percent of children diagnosed with cancer live in developing countries.

    Jarquin-Pardo, a St. Jude employee for 10 years, worked as a scientific recruiter in Human Resources before she moved to Global Pediatric Medicine. Now, she helps manage projects that are designed to increase the cure rates for pediatric cancers in Central and South America.

    "The best part about coming to work each day is when I have lunch outside and see the patients," Jarquin-Pardo says. She recalls watching one patient happily playing in the Danny and Rose Marie Thomas Memorial Garden—living the present moment, enjoying the sunny day.

    Jarquin-Pardo wants to create more sunny days, in countries a world away, for children with pediatric cancer.


     

    Blanca Martinez Jimenez

    Blanca Martinez Jimenez in the halls of St. Jude.

    Blanca Martinez Jimenez is working with Hispanic patients and families as a medical interpreter.

    National heritage: Mexican
    Medical Interpreter, Interpreter Services

    A native of Mexico, Blanca Martinez Jimenez often interprets for Hispanic patients and families. “I can see their faces,” she says, remembering past introductions. “They light up.” 

    A three-year employee of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, she is a graduate of the University of Memphis Health Care Interpreter Program and a Certified Medical Interpreter.

    “I never thought that I was going to be a medical interpreter,” says Martinez Jimenez. Then she watched a poignant story on TV about a St. Jude patient. “It broke my heart,” she remembers. 

    She called Volunteer Services and accepted a position in the Linda R. Hajar Family Resource Center. Even then, she empowered patients and families to take an active role in treatment.

    Eventually, Martinez Jimenez pursued the educational requirements for medical interpretation. Bilingual competence alone is not enough to be a medical interpreter, she explains.

    As a fulltime employee, she delights in delivering good news—telling a patient “no more chemo” and singing the “No More Chemo” song. “We’re like a bridge between the provider and the families,” she says. “I love what I do.”


     

    Enrique Ramirez

    Enrique Ramirez sharing his story at a fundraising event.

    Enrique Ramirez sharing his story at a fundraising event.

    National heritage: Mexican
    Marketing Analyst | Marketing Operations| ALSAC

    Working at ALSAC has a special meaning for Enrique. It means giving back to the hospital that worked tirelessly on behalf of his daughter, Arianna, after she was diagnosed with cancer. 

    When Arianna was 3, she was found to have a rare cancerous tumor and started treatment at St. Jude. Weeks before her eighth birthday, she passed away, leaving an indelible mark on the organization. Mr. Shadyac truly loved Arianna," said Enrique, speaking of ALSAC President and CEO Richard C. Shadyac Jr. “Her picture is in his office.”

    “It’s definitely my purpose in life to help families like mine,” said Enrique. “I speak the same language that patient families speak. I’ve been through everything they’ve been through as a patient parent. I feel like I’m giving back to everything that St. Jude did for us.”

    If Enrique ever switched jobs, he would want to continue working for St. Jude. “I feel like she’s next to me at the hospital. Just having the connection to the hospital is big for me.”


     

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