Diana Cantero

Diana Cantero

A ‘09 graduate of CI’s Biology program, Diana Cantero works as a family practice Physician Assistant in an underserved area of South Central Los Angeles.

“I work with a team of doctors and other PAs to provide primary care to patients who otherwise would not have access to healthcare,” she said. “I love my job because I get to make a difference in the lives of my patients by not only treating them, but also by educating them and empowering them to live healthier lives.”

Cantero spends her days examining patients, diagnosing injuries and illnesses, and providing treatment for ailments ranging from the common cold to chronic diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

A first-generation college graduate, Cantero entered CI planning to major in sociology. But after taking a required introductory science course with Angela Chapman, Ph.D., she was hooked on biology.

“I had never considered majoring in a science, but the talent and enthusiasm of the faculty made me fall in love with biology,” she said. “At CI, I was privileged to have small classes and research opportunities that I wouldn't have gotten at any other campus.”

Cantero went on to earn her Master’s in Physician Assistant Practice degree at USC.

“I felt prepared and competent in the science field and this put me at a great advantage when I was going through PA school,” she said. “Having a strong foundation allowed me to be successful in graduate school and as medical professional.”

Cantero also credits influential mentors like Professor of Chemistry Phil Hampton, who guided her to research opportunities and support programs for underrepresented minorities in STEM, such as Project ACCESO.

“Because he took the time to get me involved in this program I was able to get the funding to do research, attend a science symposium, and expand my ambitions to attend graduate school,” she said.

Cantero also enjoyed experiences like traveling to New Orleans with fellow CI students to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

“I will never forget the destruction and devastation I saw, but I will also never forget the fulfillment I felt helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina,” she said. “This experience ignited a desire to help those who are in need and it guided my decision of working in an underserved community now.”