Thursday, January 4, 2024

UTSA grad Joshua Lazaro prepares for Ph.D., begins career at Centers for Disease Control

UTSA grad Joshua Lazaro prepares for Ph.D., begins career at Centers for Disease Control

MAY 23, 2023 — From clearing Rocky Mountain trails to attending medical research programs at Stanford and Yale, Joshua Lazaro ’23 recently has earned his bachelor’s degree in statistics and data science with a concentration in biology. His next stop will be the start of his Ph.D. program at Stanford University and a career at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this fall.

Searching for the American dream, Lazaro’s parents left their hometown of Huitzuco in Guerrero, Mexico at 18 in hopes of a better life. Despite his parents’ demanding jobs as a house cleaner and a construction worker, they provided Lazaro with endless support, helped him develop an affinity and passion for mathematics and instilled in him the persistence to pursue a degree in higher education.

Originally a cybersecurity major then an environmental science major, Lazaro did not have many academic inspirations or connections growing up as a first-generation student and Mexican American. It wasn’t until he became more involved at UTSA in different organizations, like the American Statistical Association (ASA), that he discovered his true academic passion.


“I did not know that you could combine statistics with biology and computer science and get meaningful results for the future of cancer research.”





After attending his first ASA meeting and hearing guest speaker Henry Miller, a computational biologist, speak about the usage of statistical modeling in biological systems to help identify where tumors are in the body, Lazaro’s career path shifted.

“I did not know that you could combine statistics with biology and computer science and get meaningful results for the future of cancer research. That is what really inspired me to pursue a passion in statistics and data science,” he said.

During his time at UTSA, Lazaro continued his involvement with ASA as well as the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), where he served as president of a minority student chapter in ACM.

While encouraging current students to get involved, Lazaro’s biggest takeaway from his student organization experience is to try everything you can, even if it does not correlate with your degree program.

“I believe students cannot be what they cannot see. If they see someone doing something unique, like how I was able to learn about bioinformatics from the guest speaker in the ASA meeting, then students will see what they can become and open their eyes to endless opportunities,” said Lazaro.

Knowing much about career exploration because of his own experiences, Lazaro’s first internship was with the Rocky Mountain Conservancy’s Conservation Corp in Colorado. Lazaro values the unique opportunity he had there to conserve nature trails and work outside while the world was shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The next year Lazaro accepted an internship at the Stanford School of Medicine, where he practiced bioinformatics and utilized machine learning algorithms. The following summer he conducted cancer research at the Yale School of Medicine under the Medical Research Scholars program.

Upon graduating from UTSA, Lazaro will be working at the Centers for Disease Control and will be attending the Stanford School of Medicine to obtain his Ph.D. in biomedical informatics.

Reflecting on his UTSA journey thus far, Lazaro admires the strong Hispanic culture that the university embraces. Growing up in the small town of Magnolia, Texas, he and his family were some of only a few Spanish-speaking residents. The embracement of the Hispanic culture, along with the accredited programs at the Carlos Alvarez College of Business, are what ultimately led him to choose UTSA for his undergraduate degree.

Lazaro acknowledges that there were integral faculty and staff members who made his journey a successful one. He credits Jerome Keating, professor of management science and statistics, as one of his favorite professors and mentors in the statistics department. He also was impacted by Margarita Gomez and Patricia Sanchez of the Bicultural-Bilingual Studies department for being imperative to his and other first-generation students’ success.

— Rebekah Alegria



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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.


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