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Good Morning America Online: Undocumented Immigrant Turns PhD Hopes Into Reality

Good Morning America Online and Spectrum News 1 recently featured Lizbeth Sanchez Olivera, a research associate in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai, and Eugenio Cingolani, MD, director of Preclinical Research and associate professor of Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute, discussing the impact of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on Olivera’s life and how it has influenced her career and future aspirations.

DACA gives Olivera—a so-called “Dreamer”—and other adults who came from Mexico to the U.S. as children the authorization to get an education and work in the country legally as undocumented immigrants. The program is in jeopardy because a U.S. federal court judge recently declared it illegal.

Olivera first joined Cedars-Sinai as an intern in Cingolani’s laboratory before he later offered her a full-time job.

“Her story was really compelling to me and her passion, and really wanting to succeed and move forward and learn science and work hard towards it, was what captivated me,” Cingolani said in the Good Morning America Online story.

Olivera told Spectrum 1 reporter Timothy Parker that she is concerned about deportation.

“This is our home, and we hope to better our home through research, academics and medicine,” she said. “So [if] we don’t have DACA anymore, then that would mean that we would go back to our countries—a country that I haven’t even visited since I was 3 years old.”

Olivera is working toward a doctorate at Cedars-Sinai. She told Parker she wants to mentor the next generation to enter the science field.

“There is a lack of Latinos and people of color that are in this field, so I would like to change that,” she told Parker. “I would hope to … inspire students like myself.”

Click here to watch the complete segment from Good Morning America Online and here to watch the complete segment from Spectrum News 1.