Silvia I. Salazar

Silvia I. Salazar

Silvia I. Salazar

Power Words

Haz una Diferencia Positiva, Crea tu Futuro, Échale Ganas!
Make a Positive Difference, Create Your Future, Go for it!

Where were you born? 

Ahuachapán, El Salvador

What school did you attend? 

University of California Los Angeles, George Washington University

What gained your interest in the NIH? 

In my familia there are few people who speak English. This meant that those of us who spoke English and Spanish would end up being interpreters in all types of situations such as when our perrita named Pinky had to go to the veterinarian. So when my Mamá went to the doctor or when we would visit our tío or tía in the hospital, I would be asked to interpret. But it was difficult to understand how the healthcare system works because it is very different from the one in El Salvador. Seeing how people in my familia and comunidad had a hard time figuring out how to deal with diseases and how to get the right medical attention got me thinking about what I could do about it. Once I learned about the NIH, I realized that it was the right place for me because the NIH serves the needs of all people living in the United States and their research also takes place around the word.

What kind of work do you do at the NIH? 

For the past 12 years I have worked at the National Cancer Institute in the area of technology and social science research. When someone wants to know how to prevent cancer or they have been diagnosed, they usually go online to look for information. Sometimes they want to know how to find a cancer specialist or what to do about side effects. Or they want to find information in Spanish and English so that their entire familia can understand and make hard decisions about treatment. My job is to make sure the information on the National Cancer Institute websites (cancer.gov and cancer.gov/espanol) and other educational materials provides the information people need.

What message would you like to send to young Hispanics who are considering going to college? 

Growing up in two cultures can be really difficult and confusing. While my Papá and Mamá wanted me to get good grades, they constantly told me that I was still Salvadoran and I had to continue our family traditions and rules such as speaking proper Spanish and behaving like a “señorita.” At the same time, I wanted to hang out with my friends and do the things all teenagers do. I never imagined that knowing two languages and cultures would be a part of my career. Going to college took a lot of hard work. But it is worth it because you will have new opportunities to decide your future. ¡Hechale ganas! and you will see what a difference it makes.