First-year UC Riverside School of Medicine medical student Norma Espinoza was presented with a scholarship from the National Hispanic Health Foundation (NHHF) at their 14th annual California Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship Gala on Nov. 18, 2021 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.
Espinoza is a first-generation college student from Northridge, Calif. She attended UCLA as an undergraduate, getting a degree in psychology, before arriving at the UCR School of Medicine. She applied for the award because it best fit the qualities that she represented – a Latina in the healthcare field.
“I recognized that immigrant people like myself needed doctors that represented them and could connect with them on a cultural and spiritual level,” she said. “That really inspired me to want to be an advocate for my community.
In the fall she received word that she had been selected for the scholarship, which amounts to a total of $15,000 over three years, and that she would be one of 11 students recognized at the annual west coast celebration.
“It was a great surprise, and I was honored knowing that I was recognized for the efforts I made in my community. It was nice to know I had a group of people supporting me in my journey,” Espinoza said.
“Financially, it’s always nice to have a little bit of help, but more than anything it shows me that as a minority, it made me feel less like I’m the only one. There are other people with similar stories and backgrounds as myself also pursuing medicine,” she said.
The NHHF is the philanthropic arm of the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA). The scholarship program was established in 2004 for medical, nursing, dental, public health, and health policy students with outstanding academic records, leadership, and a commitment to serving Hispanics and is the only Latino scholarship only given to graduate students in healthcare disciplines in the U.S. Since its founding, the NHHF has awarded just over $1.5 million to 306 awardees.
Eleven additional recipients from the east coast were honored at a similar gala in New York on Dec. 2, 2021.