Earlham College junior Marisol Cora-Cruz has been selected for the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, one of the nation’s top undergraduate awards given in the natural sciences, engineering or mathematics.
Cora-Cruz is the third Earlhamite in two years to earn the Goldwater and continues the College’s rich tradition of preparing future leaders in science.
“The Goldwater is a great opportunity to further my goal of working in public health to address disparities in healthcare,” said Cora-Cruz, a neuroscience major from Ponce, Puerto Rico. She plans to pursue an MD-PhD program in epidemiology after graduation.
“I am underrepresented in medicine—less than 2 percent of physicians are female Hispanic— and even fewer of those are physician scientists,” she said. “Researchers do an excellent job of gathering data, but I believe that the practice of medicine and public health needs to be more integrated. My hope is to not just serve as a provider, but to facilitate communication between fellow physicians and researchers to implement best practices. I aspire to be a physician-scientist who can assess and translate findings to improve the lives of people around me, especially those who need it the most.”
Cora-Cruz is currently an intern at the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health as part of the Intern Philly program. Her lab is focused on researching factors relating to substance abuse, violence, HIV/AIDS, mental health, and COVID-19 for the city’s Hispanic population. She is also participating in public health research at Earlham and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to help address other health disparities.
“I have helped care for my mother most of my life and moved her from Puerto Rico to the mainland in search of better healthcare,” Cora-Cruz said. “The healthcare system in the mainland has a lot of room for improvement, but it is still an upgrade compared to back home. My hope is to one day return to serve as a provider and perform very needed research with the patients of Puerto Rico. With this, I hope to help improve the systems that have limited our access to adequate care.”
While in Philadelphia, Cora-Cruz is also the coordinating intern for the Earlham Center for Global Health’s externship program, which provides service-learning opportunities for students at local healthcare facilities. She recently finished her role as co-president of TEDxEarlhamCollege, which just finished its bi-annual showcase in March.
“My Earlham education has been instrumental in becoming the person I am,” she said. “Not only have I become more knowledgeable through my classes, but I have had multiple faculty and staff members at Earlham who have helped nurture and support my passions. They have been instrumental in gaining the experiences and connections to help me understand why these degrees are a great fit while also making me a more competitive applicant for MD-PhD programs.”
Goldwater Scholars receive up to $7,500 in tuition support during their senior year of college.
The scholarship program announced that 417 students were selected for scholarships out of a pool of 1,242 nominees from 433 colleges and universities.