Twice in a Generation
Scientist sisters Andrea ’23 and Diana Cando ’24 are first-generation students with a lot in common, and even more in distinction.
Extrovert and introvert. Urgent care medical specialist and orthodontist’s assistant. They express the qualities that make them so individually unique in the nuances of their similarities.
Among the significant similarities these sisters share is their dream to be a doctor, their fervor for research and science, their fascination with Pink Floyd, and their love of Ursinus College.
Andrea, the extroverted neuroscience major with a Spanish minor, works at a local Patient First urgent care center when she’s not volunteering at Reading Hospital. “I’ve been there for a little over a year now, and my obsession grew,” says Andrea. “You have dozens of patients at the same time. To me, it’s exhilarating.”
Her career in the medical field started long ago, however, when she played “Doctor” with her mother at the age of five. The sisters’ mom, Diana Torres—from whom the two developed their love of rock music from the 1960s and 70—immigrated from Ecuador and raised her daughters in New York before moving to Reading, Pa.
“Here at Ursinus,” Diana says, “everyone is a friend.”
Diana, the introverted biology major, loves dental cleanings.
“I just scheduled mine earlier than usual,” she says. “I love having conversations with the dental hygienists. I’m like, ‘How do you like your job?’ ‘What do you do?’ ‘Can you walk me through the procedure?’”
She first found her love for dentistry when Andrea acquired braces. Andrea remembers, “She wasn’t the patient, but she would ask the orthodontist a bunch of questions.”
Diana says, “I learned to love it when I was—I think I was 14.”
Now, Diana works at an orthodontist’s office in Norristown, where she flourishes in the one-on-one environment. “I know all of my patients by name and what school they go to … I like that I get to see them grow.”
Andrea says she also enjoys the potential for relationship building between physician and patient. “I do want to experience that at some point. But for now, I like the chaos.”
In addition to their medical work off-campus, both Cando women also fill a litany of roles at Ursinus. Both Diana and Andrea work as residential advisors.
“Different settings,” says Diana.
Andrea laughs. She points at Diana. “She’s on Main Street.”
Diana responds, “She’s got the chaos.”
When Andrea is not ordering triages or lab work at Patient First, she looks after the first-year students of Paisley 2 (in BPS). Diana serves as the RA of the Olevian house on Main Street, which she describes as, “much more relaxed.”
Both are active researchers on campus. Andrea works in Associate Professor of Biology Beth Bailey’s lab, and Diana researches alongside Professor of Biology Rebecca Lyczak.
“The research we do gets you one step closer to lessening the complications in pregnancy,” Andrea says.
Alongside their research, studies, and jobs on and off-campus, both Diana and Andrea still find time for community service. They played instrumental roles in developing the new Virtue community service club on campus. Andrea is the vice president; Diana is the social representative.
The club was co-founded by their classmates, Abigail Coachi ’22 and Zenya Yanoff ’22, as a way to offer virtual service opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, the club is setting its sights on providing direct relief to Haitians impacted by natural disasters. They’re kicking off this year with a donation drive for the Haiti Arts Relief Project (HARP), a student-run organization empowering amateur artists in Haiti.
What gets these sisters through their frantic schedules? For both, it’s their peers.
“Here at Ursinus,” Diana says, “everyone is a friend.”
Andrea nods and adds, “The support we offer each other student-to-student is really, really great.”
Attending college in the Covid era has its special set of challenges.
“Ever since I came here, everyone has been very encouraging of what I want to do, who I want to be, and who I am right now,” Diana says.
“I think that’s really special.”
What brings you joy?
Diana: “My family brings me the biggest joy in life. Having both my mom and sister present in my life is all I need to motivate me to be my best self and continue succeeding in life.”
Andrea: “As Diana mentioned, my family brings me joy and hope. Being first-generation and the first sibling to undergo the college process was difficult and overwhelming but having them there as support was amazing.”
What is most unique about your story?
Diana: “Having my sister tag along on my college journey (and I on hers) is something so unique and special because I have someone to look up to. But I also have someone to lean on who knows me better than I know myself.”
Andrea: “Having my sister here is a special and unique experience. I guide her and warn her of the do’s and don’ts of college. In a way, you can say I have paved a pathway for her so that her experience would be smoother than mine. At the same time, she helps me when times get tough as the older sibling and the one that must experience everything first (i.e. medical school applications, XLP, classes and which professors to take and not take). It is a nice balance, and I would not change it for the world.”
What does it mean to be a “Bear for Life?”
Diana: “Being a Bear for Life means having the confidence and resilience to continue with your path whether that is educational or personal because a Bear never gives up and a Bear never forgets where he or she came from. We are courageous individuals that never forget our time as Bears because a being a Bear is for life.”
Andrea: “Being a Bear for Life means going beyond adopting the ‘Ursinus way.’ What we learn here is what will serve us for life. A private liberal arts college strives to create well-rounded citizens of the world. Thus, being a Bear for Life means living up to the Ursinus way. It means living up to the best version of yourself. We take what we learn and make it our own. Our experiences and memories mold us into our best self with a dash of Ursinus Bear within us.”