Biology is His Destiny
Diego Pajares Herrera believes that his immense curiosity and love for science are genetic traits, inherited from his grandfathers. “One of my grandfathers is a chemist,” says Diego.
The other, who planned to study medicine and was accepted by a prestigious university in Peru, captured the imagination of his young grandson when they took walks together in the park.
“He had so much knowledge,” recalls Diego. “He knew about insects, plants, animals… everything.” Though that grandfather was unable to pursue his dream career and became an accountant instead, his grandson is on track to fulfill his own destiny.
Diego graduates with his Associate in Science Degree in Biology and with highest honors. He transfers to the University of Michigan on a full scholarship and will major in cellular molecular developmental biology.
“My goal is to be a researcher for NASA in the field of genetics,” says Diego. A fan of science fiction, especially the X-Files television series, Diego said those sparked his interest in genetics.
Diego came with his family to the U.S. shortly after he graduated from high school in Peru. Though he had studied English, Diego was not accepted to the university he wanted to attend, because his English skills were not strong enough.
Discouraged, he took time off from school for a while, then enrolled at PCCC in 2019, starting out in ESL classes and progressing academically to become a top student and member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
Once influenced by a knowledgeable biology instructor in Peru – “I wanted to be just like him” – says Diego, he has continued to be inspired by PCCC professors who show passion for the subjects they teach, among them science professor Fred Safarowic.
“I like that he tells about his own life and accomplishments and encourages us to continue on our paths,” says Diego.
As a member of the B2B science club, Diego worked closely with biology professor Kala Mayur on a research project about bioorganisms that was presented in a student research event with Fairleigh-Dickinson University.
“I had to do a presentation online,” he said. “It involved hard data and was pretty cool,” says Diego, satisfied with the outcome.
As a work-study at PCCC, Diego handled lab preparation for both chemistry and biology, setting up the labs and preparing solutions. “I enjoyed doing it and will have a work study opportunity at the University of Michigan, too,” he says.
The young researcher hopes to continue his education up to the PhD level. He also looks forward to traveling widely and satisfying his curiosity about other cultures, especially Japan and Egypt. “There is so much mystery about Egypt,” he says.
Though excited about going to a prestigious university program, Diego says he will miss his mother and sister and knows they will miss him, too. He is especially grateful to his mom. “She moved our family to the US, so we could have a better life. I want to thank her for all she has done for us.”
As he prepares for his next academic adventure, Diego offers some parting words about PCCC. “My experience here has been wonderful; I really recommend this place. They encourage you a lot here and care about your progress.”