Campus & Community

Isis Rivera '20 on the Impact of the Boston Scholarship

Simmons senior Isis Rivera ’20 has been telling people she wanted to be a veterinarian ever since she was seven years old. That goal, and her broad interest in science, put her on a path to TechBoston Academy and from there to Simmons, where she’s now pursuing a Fulbright Scholarship.

“It’s fair to say that Simmons led me to Fulbright in a kind of literal sense,” says Rivera, reflecting on her experience at the University.

Rivera learned about Simmons — and its Boston Scholarship Program — from uAspire, a nonprofit that helps high school students overcome financial obstacles that could derail their plans for college. Aware that Rivera wanted a small college (preferably local) with the right science courses for an aspiring veterinarian, a uAspire advisor encouraged her to consider Simmons and apply for the University’s merit-based Boston Scholarship. Simmons granted her admission and the Scholarship.

“I don’t think it would have been feasible to attend Simmons without it. It would have cost too much,” says Rivera.

The Boston Scholarship is a competitive, four-year, full-tuition award specifically designated for students from Boston public high schools and charter schools who have achieved academic excellence. This year, 40 candidates applied for 9 to 15 spots.

Now in her fourth year at Simmons, Rivera is a biochemistry major on the pre-veterinary track. She says developing close relationships with faculty has been a highlight of her time at the University.

“I’ve found a lot of really, really cool faculty here, and mentors in those faculty,” says Rivera. She credits her professors with being particularly supportive as she navigates medical care for an ongoing condition.

Rivera says her professors have influenced her growing interest in the environment, ecology, and sustainability. For her Fulbright application, she’s chosen a master’s program in global sustainability and environmental change at the University of Helsinki in Finland. (For now, at least, Rivera is “still a little bit on the fence” about pursuing veterinary school — especially considering the expense.)

Dr. Nakeisha Cody, director of undergraduate research and fellowships at Simmons, has been working with Rivera on her Fulbright application. Dr. Cody also works closely with all students in the Boston Scholarship cohort.

“This group of students is already very talented, and we want to continue to provide them with enhanced support to help them further thrive at Simmons,” says Dr. Cody, emphasizing the importance of “community building, strengthening the cohort model, and creating pathways or linkages to postgraduate opportunities.”

“These students perform exceptionally well at Simmons when we think about traditional measures of student success, such as first-year retention, GPA and even graduation rates,” says Dr. Cody. She notes that the Boston Scholarship is an important expression of the University’s commitment to the Boston community.

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