Robin Gottleib

Dalisa Espinosa '10

Dalisa Espinosa ’10 would never have imagined as she sat in Mr. Dalton’s biology class during her freshman year that she would one day pursue a career in the sciences, but that initial spark continued through her time at Berkshire and beyond.

Espinosa received a B.A. from Skidmore College in molecular biology and a master’s degree in biomedical sciences from Rutgers University. Following graduate school, Espinosa was a clinical researcher at NYU Langone’s cardiology department, working on clinical trials focused on Takotsubo Syndrome (also known as Broken Heart Syndrome), a condition which weakens the heart’s main pumping chamber.

In 2019, Espinosa transitioned to research project manager at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center where she works within the leukemia service. Though her current role does not directly collaborate with patients, she enjoys working in clinical research administration.

Espinosa grew up in Brooklyn, NY before attending Berkshire. She joined the DEI Alumni Council in 2021 and currently serves on the Council’s Career Networking and Mentorship Committee. Espinosa lives in New Jersey with her husband Javier. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and trying new and interesting cuisines.

Please see the Q and A below to read more about Espinosa’s career, her time at Berkshire, and her thoughts on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

What led you to attend Berkshire School?
My first introduction to boarding school was through my mom's best friend. She had already sent her kids to boarding school and introduced the idea to my mom. I grew up in a strict household so when my mom agreed to boarding school, I was shocked. However, education is particularly important in my family, so if it meant I was going to get the best opportunities, my mom was all in. With the help of my mom’s friend, I applied to boarding schools throughout New England. I was very unfamiliar with the entire process, so imagine my surprise when I received my acceptance letter to Berkshire. I remember being so excited about this completely new experience, but also so scared about stepping outside of my comfort zone. 

What initially sparked your interest in science?
My freshman year I took biology with Mr. Dalton. He was always looking for new ways to present the material and keep us engaged, even if it meant taking a walk in the woods. It was the most fun I have ever had in a biology class.

Dalisa with her husband, Javier

Can you tell us a bit about your current research?
At Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, I work on many clinical trials at a time, ranging from phase I to phase III. Many of our trials provide treatment to patients with acute myeloid leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, myelofibrosis, or myelodysplastic syndrome. In early December, the FDA granted approval of a drug for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, which was extremely exciting for my team. This approval is a step toward providing an effective line of treatment for CLL that was not previously available. 

Martin Luther King Day was last Monday. As someone who identifies as Latinx, what meaning does this holiday personally have for you?

MLK Day is always a reminder that as a country we have come a long way, but there is still so much work to be done collectively. It is also a reminder that change can start small; even if you are one person, you can promote positive change within your community. That is the main reason I decided to join the DEI Alumni Council because Berkshire is a community that I was once a part of (and still am, now as an alumna), so if I can help make it a better place for everyone, why not?  

What are your fondest memories of your time under the Mountain?

There were very few people who looked like me when I was at Berkshire, so building friendships and a strong support system was very important to me. I met my best friend at Berkshire, and to this day we talk almost every day. Another fond memory is from dorm wars. It was the one time of the year I was most excited about even though it was often freezing outside. Seeing everyone come together and just have fun with friendly competition was always the best time. Lastly, the dorm parents, especially during weekend check-in hours. I still daydream about Mrs. Bush's waffles and homemade whip cream!