CSN grad to take on cancer

College of Southern Nevada 2011 graduate Maryknoll Palisoc proudly states her goal is to help find a cure for brain cancer.

While it may be tempting to dismiss this as a bright-eyed 21-year-old science student’s daydream, Palisoc need only talk about her upbringing and her brief two years at CSN and it’s easy to believe in her. It is easy to see she will accomplish impossible feats.

She doesn’t jump at the chance to discuss the hardships of growing up in the Philippines, where she and her family lived up until two years ago. It is only when she is asked to describe her mother’s role in instilling the value of education in her that Palisoc opens up.

“There was a time in my life when my family used to illegally occupy this lot near the freeway. My father built a shack, and we lived there for five years. Every rainy season, our place flooded and my mom had to carry me and my other sisters on her back so we wouldn’t miss the Jeep that brought us and the other children in the neighborhood to school,” Palisoc said. “She would wrap our shoes with plastic bags so they didn’t get dirty before we got to our classrooms.”

The work ethic and moral values instilled in her by her family, the hardships she experienced growing up and her personal desire to be civically engaged have contributed to Palisoc’s success at CSN, where she became the first student in Nevada to receive the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship this year.

The $30,000-a-year scholarship combined with her 3.9 grade point average and dizzingly long list of commitments gave Palisoc a broad range of choices to select where she wanted to obtain her bachelor’s in science degree. She will start at Ohio State University this fall.

Then she wants to get a Ph.D. and an M.D. Then she wants to do biomedical research and be part of a team of scientists who find the cure for brain cancer.

She and her family arrived in Las Vegas from the Philippines when she was 19, and that same year she began her education at CSN. She learned English quickly and put herself on the educational path to become a doctor and obtained her associate degree in chemistry in May.

Her list of accomplishments during her two years at CSN is long: president of the Chemistry Club, student government senator, AmeriCorps member, math tutor, Nevada INBREA Biomedical Student Pipeline Program participant, project coordinator of Shots 4 Tots, Phi Theta Kappa member, operations chair for the American Cancer Society at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, volunteer medical oncology assistant at the Nevada Cancer Institute, Outstanding Student Award recipient and Regent’s Scholar Award recipient.

The professors and staff at CSN helped her reach her goals and some became mentors.

“On top of learning the course material, they showed me the various pathways that I could take to become a scientist,” she said.

CSN Counseling Director Jason Cifra and English Professor Dr. Dorothy Chase helped her apply for scholarships and to apply to top research schools throughout the nation. Other CSN staff became “second mothers” to her.

CSN provided the highest quality learning environment — one in which she developed a close relationship with her peers and the faculty and staff, Palisoc said.

“The quality of education at CSN is above standard and it taught me more than I needed to know,” she said. “Sure four-year institutions will teach me in more advanced classes, but there will be no other schools that I can sincerely call a family.”

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