Mujerona Monday: Meet Thelma Escobar

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From Guatemala to NYC! This week, I talked the amazing, Thelma Escobar, to learn more about how being curios has led to an amazing career as a Scientist!


What is your power word?

I asked my sisters to help describe me in one word and they all said “curious.”

Tell us a little about yourself and why that is your power word.

As a Scientist, curiosity is an intrinsic trait. My curious nature permitted me to marvel at the Moon and Solar System while ignoring the poverty and danger surrounding my upbringing. Moreover, as I progressed through UCLA and Johns Hopkins University, my curiosity in molecular biology assisted me in focusing on my coursework and Ph.D. thesis, disregarding the competitive and hostile nature of some in the scientific community.

Beyond Science, my curiosity has allowed me to challenge the status quo and statistics for an immigrant child raised under my circumstances, asking the questions, why doesn't my brother have more chores? Why can't I apply to the top schools? Why am I being asked about marriage and starting a family instead of what I aspire for my career? Thus, my curious nature will continue to guide my career and life objective to conduct innovative research all the while mentoring, enabling, and supporting a diverse group of students and fellows in their scientific training.

Do you identify as a woman of color? What does being a woman of color mean to you?

I identify as a woman of color as I was born in Guatemala. Being a woman of color means that I have built resilience and grit to pursue a career in Science.

Why are you a part of The Melanin Collective?

I am part of The Melanin Collective because I want to support other #MujeronasPoderosas like my good friend Doris. The MC is needed to build a tribe of powerful women of color so that the generation after us have an easier path forward to accomplish their dreams.

Anything else you want to share with us? 

My earliest recollection of scientific curiosity was when I was 7-8 years old and my father came home one weekend with a series of books that he had obtained from the local swap meet. The books were about the Solar System and although the English words were difficult to discern, I was fascinated by the pictures and would often gaze into the night sky. I thank my parents, siblings, friends, and mentors who have made my dreams tangible and their continued support as I carve this path less traveled.