By Austin Elizabeth R.

Before living in the US, Ann Marie Pendergast lived in El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Brazil, but she had big dreams for her future. Her father worked for the government which allowed her to live in many places. She grew up speaking mostly Spanish, and a little bit of Portuguese; her father spoke English. The schools that she attended were all religious, private schools. But, after she finished high school, Dr. Pendergast decided that she needed come to the US in order to get a higher education.

Coming to the US was not very hard for Dr. Pendergast. She was a US citizen because of her father’s government service and she had an American Passport. Dr. Pendergast also knew what to expect because she had visited the US a couple of times when she was vacationing in Florida. But, she was only able to understand English, not speak or think in English. She took some classes when she arrived in the US in order to become better at speaking English.

While in the US, Dr. Pendergast attended several different schools. She began school at Georgetown, which was where she learned English, then she went to Cottey College, a private women’s college in Missouri. She attended Cottey for two years, then she went to the University of Michigan where she got her B.S. in Chemistry and minored in Molecular Biology. Finally, she earned her PhD from the University of California, Riverside. After that, Dr. Pendergast became a Postdoc at UCLA. Lastly, Dr. Pendergast came to Duke and began working in labs as a scientist.

Looking back at her experiences, Dr. Pendergast can notice a few differences between her life in Latin America and her life in the US. The main difference is that she has had to learn to cook and clean, for when she was a child in Latin America, everything was done for her by the “staff”. Dr. Pendergast has adjusted to her new life in the United States, but she misses both the “staff” and her family. Whenever she gets a chance, she likes to take her husband and 15 year old daughter to visit El Salvador because that is where her mom lives, but she has not been back to Brazil or Costa Rica since she left. Dr. Pendergast currently works at Duke as a Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology and takes every chance she can to help her daughter follow in her footsteps.