Apolo Ibanez

The Educational Journey of Biology Student Apolo Ibanez

Monica Alarcon


Apolo Ibanez

Apolo Ibanez in the dissection room isolating and testing a tendon for morphometric analysis at Cal State San Bernardino. 


​Over three decades ago, Apolo Ibanez's parents, Apolo Ibanez Sr. and Felicisima Rincon, decided to leave their hometowns and emigrate from Mexico to the United States. They had little when they arrived in the United States but were determined to start a new life away from the poverty they experienced in Mexico. It was in America where they sought to build and raise a family and where economic opportunities included the right to a world class educational experience. They made many sacrifices along the way but are happy that the outcome of those sacrifices paid off for their children.​

Today…. Apolo is now a senior at Cal State San Bernardino and will graduate with a biology degree in spring 2022. He will be the first in his family with a college degree. His parents are incredibly proud of what he has accomplished and look forward to his future. Apolo is very excited to be completing his final year in college. He views his college diploma as the greatest gift and thank you he can give to his parents. He knows his parents would have loved to have had the same educational opportunity as he. He feels they are living out their academic goals and dreams through him and he is honored to share his diploma with them. He is aware of the sacrifices his parents made for him to attend college and achieve his educational dreams. His parents have inspired him every day to do the best he can.

Overcoming Challenges  Apolo had a difficult transition from high school to college. In his freshman year, he quickly realized how unprepared he was to navigate the educational institution he was suddenly a part of. In the beginning, Apolo had trouble with his classes and needed guidance and curriculum support to get through his first year. His parents had never attended college so he could not go to them for advice on how to succeed and where to obtain resources on campus. Yet, he overcame the difficulties of his freshman year because of the fighting spirit and hard work ethic his parents instilled in him. He did not give up and looked for the resources he needed to be successful. He also believes that this perseverance helped him overcome challenges during the pandemic and quarantine. As a senior, he has now adjusted well to college life. Before the pandemic and quarantine, he was beginning to dive deep into his research skill abilities in Dr. Angela Horner's Functional Morphology Lab, which focused on biomedical research. However, the quarantine created some obstacles for Apolo as he was unable to continue some of his research projects in lab. Although he began to feel discouraged about his research opportunities, he turned to his mentors for guidance during this difficult time.

Mentors… During the pandemic, he has been able to lean on his mentors for support to help him succeed academically and to still continue pursuing his research. Dr. Horner provided him with a research checklist she wanted him to work on during quarantine. Apolo accomplished several of the items on the list including learning how to code using the program R (data science), reading scientific literature papers, managing time, and being a scientific research writer. He is grateful for Dr. Horner's mentorship and positive support during quarantine. Even during the pandemic and no lab access, his research skills improved significantly.

Toward the Future…Apolo will be attending the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology conference in Phoenix, Arizona, on January 3rd where he will present his research on Musculoskeletal Response to Exercise Training in High Runner (HR). After graduating, he plans to apply to graduate schools, continue his studies in the biomedical field and conduct musculoskeletal research. He wants to help as many people as possible. He feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to graduate in biology and wants to find ways to promote diversity in STEM fields. At the moment, he is focusing on helping his younger sister, Marilynn, a sophomore at UC Riverside, continue to adapt to university life and help her succeed academically. 


Apolo Ibanez Contact Information: 

Em​ail: [email protected]