From Guatemala to Tampa with Love

By Nikki Ross Inda - October 03, 2019

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we strive to promote a culture of diversity and inclusion as we work toward fulfilling our mission to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. During Hispanic Heritage Month, we recognize the vast contributions of the Latino community, including from Moffitt team members like Carla Garcia-Molina.

Born and raised in Guatemala, Spanish was Garcia-Molina’s first language. As a young girl, she aspired to learn how to speak English.  But her dreams did not stop there.

Garcia-Molina visited the United States for the first time as a teenager in 1986. She was in her second year of college at the University of San Carlos de Guatemala and dreamed of moving to America to become a nurse. Two years later, she did just that, migrating to Los Angeles where she enrolled at Pasadena City College in the fall of 1988.

Though she would miss the Guatemalan culture, music, language and her favorite authentic tamales, she set lofty goals for herself. “I believed I could do anything,” said Garcia-Molina.

Garcia-Molina with Moffitt Cancer Center Founder H. Lee Moffitt.

Garcia-Molina ultimately left Los Angeles and moved back to Guatemala because of the rising cost of college — but two months later, she was off to sunny Florida to join her sister. She began working at Moffitt Cancer Center in 1999. She was hired as a part-time coordinator for Moffitt’s Mole Patrol® skin cancer screening program while she continued her studies at Hillsborough Community College. But she ended up leaving Moffitt to focus on school. In 2003, she graduated from HCC and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of South Florida. Garcia-Molina returned to Moffitt working with the Unfunded and CDC Program as a nurse, but still had educational aspirations. In 2014, she earned a master’s degree with an emphasis in public health from Grand Canyon University.  Today, she works as a registered nurse supporting two plastic surgeons in the Breast Oncology Program at Moffitt.

“I have a passion for what I do. I love connecting with people,” said Garcia-Molina.  “Whether in clinic or by phone, I enjoy educating patients about their upcoming procedures or providing them with post-surgical care instructions, which allows me the opportunity to help coordinate their care.”

Though she has celebrated many accomplishments throughout her life, Garcia-Molina is most proud of becoming a mom. As a child, Emanuel Garcia joined his mother to volunteer at many Moffitt events. Last year, Emanuel graduated from the University of South Florida. He is currently serving as an officer in the United States Marine Corps.

André Gide once said, “You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we recognize Carla Garcia-Molina for never losing faith in charting her own destiny.

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Nikki Ross Inda Community Relations Coordinator 813-745-6618 More Articles

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