Senior wins Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Stephanie Lopez, a Fresno State senior, has made history by becoming the university’s first student to be awarded the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship.IMG_5678_Web

Lopez, a double major in political science and mass communication and journalism, will receive a full-ride graduate scholarship to attend Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, one of the world’s leading universities, in the fall.

Lopez will pursue a one-year master’s in philosophy in Latin American studies at Cambridge’s Pembroke College. She is one of 95 students worldwide who received the award. Forty students from the United States won the honor.

Encouraged by Dr. Bradley Hart, a mass communication and journalism professor and The Collegian’s faculty adviser, Lopez took the leap of faith and applied last year. After getting accepted into Cambridge University in November, she chose to apply for the Gates Scholarship.

“Why not?” she said.

“The whole Cambridge thing was overwhelming in itself. But to get the Gates, I was literally in shock. I didn’t want to believe it until I saw their press release came out.”

Lopez received the news on Feb. 4 – the official announcement was released on Wednesday. A total of 800 U.S. scholars applied before being narrowed down to a shortlist of 89 who were then interviewed in Seattle by U.S. and Cambridge academics.

Professor Barry Everitt, provost of the Gates Cambridge Trust, called the U.S. scholars the “future leaders who will change the world for the better.”

“They 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,” Everitt said.

Among the 40 U.S. students selected, 35 institutions were represented, with five of them boasting first-time recipients, including Fresno State. Of the 35 institutions, 22 are private and 13 are public.

Lopez is a Fresno State scholar in the same recipient pool among the likes of students from Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She said it proves “Fresno State students can really do anything they set their mind to.”

She encouraged students to not be discouraged by college rankings about which universities have better opportunities, but to, instead, use the resources available at Fresno State, especially the support of professors.

A year-and-a-half ago, Lopez was unsure of what to do with her life after graduation. That changed thanks to her professors, family and friends.

“I feel very blessed and honored to have got this very prestigious and highly competitive scholarship,” Lopez said. “I know I couldn’t have done it without all the great people that really supported me.”

She also said her success came from not “overthinking” the situation or being wrapped up in expectations.

“Great things can happen, regardless of what you think,” Lopez said.


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