ECC Alumna Recipient of $90,000 Fellowship

Silvia Huerta Lopez, Essex County College Class of 2014, is the recipient of a $90,000 award from the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans. She is one of only 30 recipients out of nearly 2,000 applicants to receive the 2023 Fellowship. 

Silvia, who is in the Harvard Medical School joint Harvard-MIT MD/PhD program, applied for the Fellowship last Fall upon hearing about it from someone she works with in the school lab. “At that point, I just said to myself I hope I get it and I waited, she recalled. She was notified in early April, prior to the formal announcement from the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans.

“Congratulations to Silvia Huerta Lopez. All of us at ECC are very proud of her. Her accomplishments are a testament to the strong academics and student support we provide at Essex County College,” said ECC President Dr. Augustine A. Boakye.      

“It’s amazing to receive this Fellowship. To me, what’s so special is that the Fellowship is for immigrants and children of immigrants,” said Silvia, who was born in rural Mexico. Her family came to the United States when Silvia was 6, settling in Perth Amboy, NJ, a city with a large Spanish speaking population, which helped ease the transition of uprooting from another country.

After earning her A.S. in Biology, Pre-Medicine, Silvia received a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Transfer Scholarship worth, at the time, $90,000. She transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, earning her Bachelor’s degree in Biology in 2017. The Fellowship will go a long way toward Silvia being able to earn her doctorate in Neurobiology, she said.

Since the Fellowship’s founding 25 years ago, the program has provided more than $80 million in funding, and recipients have studied a wide range of fields from medicine, the arts, law and business.   

“My and Paul’s experiences as immigrants informed our desire to give back by investing in the accomplishments of New Americans. It has been a joy to see how our Fellows leverage their education over the years to make a deep impact across communities. I’m delighted to welcome this year’s Fellowship class.  As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of Paul’s passing, it is gratifying to see how his legacy lives on through every Fellow,” said Co-Founder Daisy Soros. 

While at Harvard, Silvia co-founded Quetzales de Salud, a non-profit organization that aims to improve access to primary medical care for undocumented immigrants through medical accompaniment. The organization supports Spanish-speaking patients through one-on-one phone calls with medical trainees before, during, and after clinic appointments or hospitalizations to ensure they have the resources and services to receive quality medical care.

Once she completes her Doctorate studies, Silvia wants to work with underserved communities and immigrant populations.

“Essex County College provided me with a solid foundation to help me work toward my goals and dream. I owe so much to ECC and all the people I met while a student,” said Silvia.