“My mother’s experience is why I want to go into oncology research,” Torres says. “I’m not aiming to go into research to cure cancer, which is something that may or may not be done in my lifetime…I think that if I can just help one patient the way my mother’s doctor helped her, I’ll be satisfied.”

Torres is one of 83 UCF students who presented at the conference. Aside from Florida Gulf Coast University which is hosting the event, UCF had the most students attending. 

Torres’ path to UCF went through Valencia College, where he earned an associate degree while caring for his mother. He was introduced to research at UCF through the Transfer-Student Research and Integration Program, and worked in biomedical sciences Professor Ken Teter’s lab. Teter, has been recognized for his research excellence, and received UCF’s Reach for the Stars award. He is also well known among students for his guidance and mentoring.

Torres calls his time at UCF conducting research as life-changing.

“Going into a university, I didn’t even know what research was,” Torres says. “I barely knew that I needed research experience for medical school, let alone how to start research. Dr. Teter taught us about research, what science really is, scientific method, hypotheses, and we also learned about lab conduct before we got into a lab.”

Torres believes his experience at UCF, combined with his steadfast commitment to his mother’s care, has prepared him well for a future in medicine.

“I have a lot of time to make up for that I lost, especially near the end of my mother’s life,” Torres says. “I was always at the hospital and so I couldn’t do anything. So since then I’ve been really, at least for her, doing absolutely everything under the sun. I’m super busy now, but I prefer it to be that way.”