Rochele Banayo-Carino, ’11 B.A. BiologyRochele Banayo-Carino, ’11 B.A. Biology

By Stephanie Villafuerte

The desire to grow and experience new surroundings is what led CSUCI alumna Rochele Banayo-Carino to leave her San Diego home and attend CSUCI. 

“Moving away from home was terrifying. I left the only community I had known for most of my life and moved three hours away to a place where I didn’t know anyone,” said Banayo-Carino. “As hard as it was, I felt like it was the right thing to do — I needed to experience being out of my comfort zone in order to grow.”

She believes she couldn’t have persevered without the support of her family back home who reminded her of the reason why she was going to college. 

“Growing up with a single mother, there was a huge importance placed on education not only for a better life for myself, but to also find my own niche in which I could reach out and help others,” she explained. 

The first-generation student went on to graduate from CSUCI in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. She credits the University’s intimate class settings and caring faculty for helping her navigate through the college experience.  

“I really appreciated the small class sizes and that the professors knew us by name,” Banayo-Carino said. 

Automatic pipetting machine

She especially credits Associate Professor of Chemistry Ahmed Awad and Biology Lecturer Tom Schmidhauser for helping her feel comfortable.  

“They were always willing to go over material and make sure that we understood the concepts and applied them,” Banayo-Carino said.

She originally aspired to be a geneticist. After graduating she worked in a clinical toxicology lab and then a clinical proteomics lab studying proteins. 

Today, Banayo-Carino works as a senior laboratory automation engineer at Illumina in San Diego where one of her responsibilities includes making the jobs of those in the manufacturing field of biotechnology easier.

“If an operator is required to hand pipette reagents into tubes for eight hours a day, I can come in, find a robotic system that best fits the process needs, and implement it into the area to free up the operator's time so they can do other tasks,” she explained.

Banayo-Carino has also been involved with COVID-19 related projects, working on systems capable of discovering any new strains of the virus, as well as overseeing the compliancy of tools that help ensure the accuracy of COVID-19 tests. 

Banayo-Carino loves her job and intends to stick with it for the long haul.  

“I really enjoy what I do, and I would like to do this for as long as I can. My long-term goals are to be a principal engineer in the field and mentor newer engineers.”

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© Fall 2021 / Volume 26 / Number 2 / Biannual

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