Fresno State senior Stephanie Gabriela Lopez was awarded the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, a full-ride graduate scholarship to Cambridge University, making her the first Fresno State student to receive the prestigious academic honor.
The scholarship is awarded to 95 students worldwide each year. Lopez was announced yesterday as one of 40 United States students representing 35 institutions. The other 55 Gates Scholars from throughout the world will be announced later this year.
They were selected based on outstanding intellectual ability, leadership potential and a commitment to improving the lives of others.
Professor Barry Everitt, provost of the Gates Cambridge Trust, said the new “U.S. scholars are an outstanding group of individuals from a very diverse range of backgrounds who are both intellectually exceptional and show a dedication to improving the lives of others. We look to them as future leaders who will change the world for the better.”
The Gates Cambridge Scholarship is considered one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world and is very rare for a student from the California State University system to earn, said Dr. Bradley Hart, a Fresno State Mass Communication and Journalism professor and interim director of the department’s internship program.
“With this accomplishment, Fresno State is joining an elite group of universities prominent on the international stage,” Hart said. “Stephanie’s success is an amazing testimony to the potential of Fresno State to produce world-class scholars and, in many ways, her story encapsulates the ideals of the American Dream.”
Lopez, 22, is a first-generation college student whose family fled El Salvador in the late 1970s during the civil war and now resides in Fresno. Her first language is Spanish. She graduated from Erma Duncan Polytechnical High School in Fresno in 2009 before enrolling at Fresno State, where she is pursuing a double-major in Political Science and Mass Communication and Journalism.
She will attend Cambridge’s Pembroke College to study for a one-year master’s in Philosophy in Latin American Studies. Her academic goal is to obtain a doctoral degree in Political Science. She intends to become a university professor and researcher.
“I am honored to be selected as a Gates Cambridge Scholar,” said Lopez who is currently an intern for Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) in his district office. “Receiving such a prestigious and competitive scholarship is such an amazing opportunity that will allow me to grow both intellectually and personally at one of the best universities in the world.”
She credits “all the great people who believed in me and supported me throughout the years,” especially her family, friends and professors.
“I think this just proves that Fresno State students can do anything they put their minds to,” she added. “We just have to go out there and try, regardless of what we think our odds are.”
Her research interests include social movement theory, democratization and citizenship, especially as they pertain to Latin America and the Middle East. While at Fresno State, she conducted research centered on indigenous social movements in Latin America and published a number of articles in local newspapers.
Fresno State is one of five institutions recognizing their first-ever Gates Cambridge Scholars. Other institutions include University of Puget Sound in Washington, University of Wyoming, Carleton University in Ontario, Canada and the Medical College of Georgia.
For more information on the U.S. Gates Cambridge Scholars visit www.gatescambridge.org or Hart at 559.278.1160.