Clinical research internship composed entirely of female high schoolers

Dayanara Ponce,16, from Hidalgo at the at the Edinburg Conference Center on Tuesday, June, 08,2021 in Edinburg. Dayanara and others were part of Junior Clinical Research Internship sponsered by DHR. (Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | [email protected])

Twelve young women from the Rio Grande Valley make up the entirety of the DHR Health and Region One inaugural Junior Clinical Research internship program.

Vice president for research and development at DHR, Lisa Treviño, said Tuesday it is important to empower these young Latinas since Hispanics cover 1% of involvement in clinical research.

“This is an area in which Latinas and Latinos are highly underrepresented and even more so females,” Treviño said. “So, be proud.”

The seniors from the Roma, PSJA and Hidalgo school districts as well as South Texas ISD attended their first day of the four-week program Tuesday at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance, where they were welcomed by their mentors.

DHR Health aims to have its interns gain hands-on experience in clinical research and learn the value of reducing the Valley’s burden of chronic disease to improve public health.

The students will also be exposed to leaders in clinical research from the Valley and all over the country.

In addition to the month-long internship, these 12 women will come back once a month beginning in the fall to continue their research.

Dr. Sohail Rao, DHR Health system president and chief executive officer for research and development, advised the young women that the path ahead of them is not an easy one.

“I am not going to give you any indication that going into science or becoming a physician or becoming a nurse is an easy path,” Rao said. “But what you will gain by the end of this is going to be remarkable.”

In light of difficult journeys, the four seniors from Roma ISD have already begun to demonstrate determination toward their education by traveling two hours everyday to attend.