Diego Alonzo Martinez Mori

Kresge ‘20, molecular, cell, and developmental biology

Diego Alonzo Martinez Mori (Kresge ‘20, molecular, cell, and developmental biology)

When he was a child in Peru, Diego Alonzo Martinez Mori’s mother would sometimes bring him to the medical office where she was a secretary. Seeing the doctors in their white coats helping people, it looked like something he’d like to do when he grew up. Now on the verge of his graduation from UC Santa Cruz, Mori is looking down the path that will take him to that vision.

His family moved to the Bay Area when Mori was 6, and he found a new reason to want to be a doctor: In the U.S. he didn’t meet a single Latinx or Spanish-speaking doctor. Following graduation, he will take a position as a technician at an immunology lab at Stanford. It’s a step in a plan that stretches years into the future, through medical school and doctoral study—ultimately he aims to be an M.D. Ph.D.

Things came together for Mori when he came to UC Santa Cruz. The welcoming campus was where his status as a DACA recipient changed from a source of anxiety to something he might say about himself when he met fellow students (he recently gained legal residency). 

In UC Santa Cruz’s STEM Diversity program, he found his chosen career. The program enabled him to attend conferences of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, where he first met scientists who looked like him. 

“Sometimes you can give people inspiration when they didn’t know they were looking for it,” Mori said.

He hopes one day to provide the same kind of inspiration to future students from underrepresented backgrounds. 

Encouraged by STEM Diversity Program Director Yuliana Ortega to become part of the solution to the underrepresentation of Latinx people in science and medicine, Mori plunged into opportunities to contribute to relevant research.

“Her motivating words helped me realize I could help fix things,” Mori says.

Devoting the next decade or so to his medical training might mean he’ll wait to start a family or a career, but “I know time will pass,” he says. “And I don’t want to give up my dreams because I’m afraid of missing out on something. I just think of the positives and think of the people I want to inspire.”