Undocumented Student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Receives 2016 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans
Denisse Rojas Marquez, a Mexican immigrant and first-year medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS), was awarded a 2016 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, the premier graduate school fellowship for immigrants and children of immigrants in the United States.
Ms. Marquez became one of the first two undocumented students at ISMMS in 2015. This fellowship will support her continued work toward earning her medical degree, and becoming a doctor in underserved immigrant communities and a leader in shaping health care policies.
Ms. Marquez is among the 30 recipients, called “fellows,” who were selected from a pool of more than 1,440 applicants. With a two percent acceptance rate, this was the most competitive year in the Fellowship's history. The fellows will receive tuition and stipend assistance of up to $90,000 in support of graduate education — in any field and in any advanced degree-granting program — in the United States.
Ms. Marquez was 10 months old when she and her family left Mexico for the United States. In their new home of Fremont, California, her family found new opportunities that enabled her and her two siblings to attend college. Due to her status, however, Ms. Marquez was ineligible for financial aid and often felt discouraged that no career counselor could offer her guidance on her goals.
Remaining steadfast in her aspirations, Ms. Marquez co-founded a national organization called Pre-Health Dreamers (PHD) to provide advising, resources and advocacy for other undocumented students. In just a few years, PHD has reached 652 members in 41 states. Through Ms. Marquez’s leadership, the organization co-sponsored legislation to allow California licensing boards to award professional licenses to undocumented professionals and engaged in institutional advocacy with other academic groups. As a result, more than 50 medical schools will now consider undocumented students for admission.
Paul and Daisy Soros, Hungarian immigrants and American philanthropists, established the fellowship program in 1997 to support the graduate educations of students who were born abroad but have become permanent residents or naturalized citizens of the United States. The 2016 Fellows come from a range of socio-economic backgrounds, and are all naturalized citizens, green card holders, DACA recipients, or the children of immigrants. The fellows are selected on the basis of merit. The specific criteria emphasize creativity, originality, initiative and sustained accomplishments. In addition, they must demonstrate a commitment to the values expressed in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The 2016 Fellows join the prestigious community of recipients from past years, who include U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, leading Ebola researcher Pardis Sabeti, Aspiration founder Andrei Cherny, Oscar health insurance co-founder Kevin Nazemi and more than 500 other New American leaders.
About the Mount Sinai Health System
The Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health system committed to providing distinguished care, conducting transformative research, and advancing biomedical education. Structured around seven hospital campuses and a single medical school, the Health System has an extensive ambulatory network and a range of inpatient and outpatient services—from community-based facilities to tertiary and quaternary care.
The System includes approximately 6,100 primary and specialty care physicians; 12 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 140 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. Physicians are affiliated with the renowned Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is ranked among the highest in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding per investigator. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked as one of the nation’s top 10 hospitals in Geriatrics, Cardiology/Heart Surgery, and Gastroenterology, and is in the top 25 in five other specialties in the 2015-2016 “Best Hospitals” issue of U.S. News & World Report. Mount Sinai’s Kravis Children’s Hospital also is ranked in seven out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 11th nationally for Ophthalmology, while Mount Sinai Beth Israel is ranked regionally.
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