Born and raised in Carson, California Ms. Barrientos is a first-generation college student whose parents emigrated from Guatemala and raised her to understand the value of an education.
She took a path that may seem familiar to many, entering higher education through a Community College. She attended El Camino College, where she took courses for five years and explored the path shewanted to follow. She then transferred to the University of California, San Diego where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Physiology and Neuroscience.
A McNair Scholar , Barrientos is studying a region of the brain called the ventral pallidum in search of relationships that may shed light on addiction, depression, and more. Her research recently won an award at the recent national conference of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).
“I hope to be a source of strength and encouragement for others who struggle through education—especially those of ethnic and gender minorities who share many of the insecurities that once plagued me,” said Ms. Barrientos. Her goal in life is to leave the world a better place than when she entered it and create curiosity through science education.
Ms. Barrientos volunteers in a program called Alternative Breaks. As part of the program, she used her spring break to travel to Quito, Ecuador to teach English to students.
Her advice to students planning to attend college: “As long as you work hard and you do something that you are motivated for, that you are passionate for, you are going to make it. You can do it!”