Dr. Marcella Cervantes is a new assistant professor in the Albion biology department. With her Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Washington, she plans on having an immediate effect on students’ educations. Cervantes says she hopes to stay at Albion College for a very long time. She fell in love with Albion because of the priority students are given over research and because she simply felt “comfortable” here.
Cervantes was raised by a large, loving family that consisted of three protective brothers and an older sister. She was born and raised in the suburbs of Houston where she developed a passion for biology, played clarinet and listened to folk music. Even at a young age, Cervantes’ mother encouraged her and her siblings to spend their free time learning.
“She had decided very early on that she was going to treat us like her students, like a classroom,” said Cervantes. “She would round us up every afternoon and we’d have reading, but we didn’t think it was strict. It was just the way it was.”
Being a fourth-generation American did not always give Cervantes the ability to explore her Hispanic roots, but it also did not mean her family avoided learning about other cultures. The Cervantes family had the luxury to enjoy distinct cultural dishes.
“My [mother] would pick a particular nationality of food and learn that. So then we would eat that for dinner every night for weeks. We had French, then that led to Vietnamese and then she did Mexican… so we grew up eating everything.”
In her early high school years, Cervantes found a love for biology because it pushed her like no other subject. During her time in high school, she motivated herself to perform well academically because college was always in the back of her mind. It was her goal to become the first college graduate in her immediate family. When graduation finally rolled around, Cervantes attended the local community college because she did not have the funds to pay for a four-year institution.
Despite having some financial constraints, her grandparents helped pay for her tuition in community college which eventually helped her transfer to the University of Houston. In her junior year of college, she decided to pursue a masters, which led her to the University of Oregon. Finally, after working for her Master of Molecular Biology, she went off to the University of Washington where she finished her education.
With her choices of Oregon and Washington for post-baccalaureate studies, Cervantes wanted to see how geographically far away she could go from home. Now that Cervantes is here in Albion, she hopes to make a lasting impact on students and become an Albion College Briton for many years to come.
For any students interested in getting to know Dr. Cervantes even more, she is hosting a “Lab Open House” on November 8 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Kresge room 071. Students will get the opportunity to chat with Cervantes and learn what her research consists of.
Photo by Christian Marquez