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Ph.D. Student Beats Odds to Put Science and Community First

December 1, 2014

The odds were stacked against Ruben Rodriguez. When the 27-year-old UC Merced student was still in high school, he was confronted with a sobering statistic that Hispanics receive only 5 percent of all doctorates awarded.

That’s always stayed with me,” said Rodriguez, who was born in Mexico and came to the United States when he was 9.

During his senior year in high school, he missed the application deadline for the University California schools. UC Merced extended its deadline and his English teacher insisted he apply, making it part of his homework.

It worked out for Rodriguez.

He was one of the university’s first undergraduates, graduating in 2010, and he’s working toward his doctorate in Quantitative and Systems Biology, where he’s researching the molecular causes of obesity and diabetes.

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