Denisse Rojas receives The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans

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One of the most prestigious fellowship for graduate studies, The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, announced their 2016 recipients.The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans offers a grant of $90,000 to immigrants or children of immigrants in the United States. Previous recipients of the Paul and Daisy Soros fellowship include U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Pardis Sabeti, the leading Ebola research, and over 535 other new American leaders. Among the recipients is our Pre-Health Dreamers founding member Denisse Rojas Marquez. Out of 1,446 applications, 70 finalists, only 30 selected, Denisse was the only DACA recipient this year. Denisse is currently attending Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. She is one of two undocumented students attending this institution. Denisse is the second DACA recipient to receive the Soros Fellowship and the first to be attending medical school.

Denisse immigrated to Fremont, CA from Mexico at the age of 10 month old with her family. The limited healthcare access her and her family received due to their undocumented status inspired Denisse to pursue a medical degree and serve underserved immigrant communities advocating for health policies that serve all patients. Her undocumented status made has made it difficult to navigate higher education as it made her ineligible for financial aid and was often discouraged due to the lack of counselors with the knowledge to guide her. Moreover, due to the lack of immigration policies, her family was separated as some left for Canada. Nonetheless, despite these many obstacles, Denisse graduated from UC Berkeley in 2012 and is now in medical school at Mount Sinai. In 2012 Denisse also founded Pre-Health Dreamers, a national organization that provides advising, resources and s advocacy for other undocumented youth pursuing a career in the health sciences.

In the three years of existence for Pre-Health Dreamers, its membership has reached over 600 among 41 states. Through the leadership of Denisse, PHD has made incredible advances to health careers for undocumented immigrants. The Association of American Medical College (AAMC) included DACA recipients as eligible for the Free Assistance Program (FAP) application for reduced medical application fees. The Medical School Admissions Requirement guide (MSAR) contains information about which schools consider applications from DACA recipients. Currently there are 50 U.S. medical schools that consider DACA recipients for admission and at least 8 dental schools will consider DACA applicants for admissions. PHD has also co-sponsored legislation allowing CA licensing boards to awards professional licenses to undocumented doctors.

“Receiving this Fellowship represents years of hard work and sacrifice my family made to strive for a better life and overcome enormous potential of the undocumented community and our already significant contributions to this country as New Americans!” - Denisse Rojas