Rochele Banayo-CarinoRochele Banayo-Carino

By Stephanie Villafuerte,
English major, Communication minor
Communication & Marketing Intern

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.

She especially credits Chemistry’s Ahmed Awad and Tom Schmidhauser of the Biology program 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.”

She also plans to pursue a graduate degree and advises new grads starting out in the biotech field to be willing to start in an entry level position.

“Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom. I started as an operator on the floor, processing specimens in a clinical lab and running the instruments. I found that having that foundation of how these instruments and systems fundamentally worked and how it affected operators on the floor gave me a clearer goal of what was important. Our systems are only as good as the people who can use them.

“Be vigilant and be open,” she continued. “There are many new opportunities out there, even if they don’t align with what you think you want to do, you never know what you’ll like until you try it. Don’t be afraid to network. The biotech industry seems big but is very small, and you’ll end up working with people in multiple areas.”

Back to Top ↑