Program Awards Two Alliance/Merck Ciencia Scholars from Elizabeth

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Alliance/Merck Ciencia Hispanic Scholars Selected, Supporting Future Leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Fields

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Two remarkable Hispanic students who graduated from Elizabeth high schools and have commenced their college careers this fall were announced as Alliance/Merck Ciencia Scholars. According to Dr. Jane L. Delgado, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, “These students will redefine the frontiers of science. I have no doubt they will be the next generation of Nobel prize winners, lab directors, professors, and health professionals leading scientific discovery that improves our health and well-being.”

Each Alliance/Merck Ciencia Scholar recipient will major in a STEM field and will receive up to $42,500 in college scholarship and summer research internship support over the next four years. In addition, the Alliance announced that 25 Hispanic college students majoring in a STEM field are recipients of a $2,000 Ciencia National Scholarship to help them complete their education.

The local scholars announced today are Yahira Mendoza, a graduate of Alexander Hamilton Preparatory Academy, and Janelle Rivera, a graduate of Elizabeth High School.

In their applications, these students wrote about the family members and mentors who inspired and guided them, as well as their aspirations for degrees and ultimately careers in the STEM fields.

Mendoza, described by her teachers as resilient and intellectually curious, plans to major in Mathematics and would love to teach in an urban district. She is confident she can make a difference in helping students understand the subject and hopes to improve the lives of the next generation of learners by helping to educate them.

“I want to thank the Alliance/Merck Ciencia Scholars Program because they gave me the help I needed. I feel blessed and till this day I can't believe that I was recognized,” said Mendoza. “With your help and the support of my family I know will give my best in everything.”

Rivera has always loved animals and after discovering her passion for biology she intends to double major in Animal Science and Biology to pursue her dream of becoming a veterinarian. Rivera hopes to be an inspiration for all Hispanics who want to push past life’s obstacles and follow their dreams.

“I believe The Alliance/Merck Ciencia Program will help open the doors to many opportunities within my major,” said Rivera. “It has been great financial assistance and has given me the honor of being in college. The program has placed my dreams at reach and I truly appreciate it!”

The Alliance/Merck Ciencia (Science) Hispanic Scholars Program is made possible by a $4 million grant from The Merck Company Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck, a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. This is the largest grant to date that The Merck Company Foundation has made in the field of Hispanic education. The Alliance, along with its supporting arm, the Health Foundation for the Americas, is partnering with The Merck Company Foundation to implement the program.

Today’s announcement marked the fourth of five groups of Ciencia Scholars. Over a five-year period, the program will provide a total of 50 promising Hispanic high school students from Brownsville, TX; Elizabeth, NJ; and, Los Angeles, CA, with up to $42,500 in college scholarships and summer research internship support to pursue STEM degrees (up to $20,000 in scholarship, and up to $22,500 in internship support). The program will also feature mentorship opportunities and an annual Ciencia Scholars symposium. In addition, a total of 125 Hispanic college students with a declared major in a STEM field will receive $2,000 scholarships. More information is available at

NOTE: The application period for the 2012-2013 scholarship application cycle is currently open. The deadline for all completed applications is March 31, 2013.


About the National Alliance for Hispanic Health
The National Alliance for Hispanic Health (the Alliance) is the nation’s foremost science-based source of information and trusted advocate for Hispanic health and well-being. The Alliance represents thousands of Hispanic health providers across the nation and provides services to more than 15 million annually, making a daily difference in the lives of Hispanic communities and families. For more information, call the Alliance’s Su Familia National Hispanic Family Health Helpline at 1-866-783-2645 or visit Like us on Facebook ( Follow us on Twitter (

About the Health Foundation for the Americas
The Health Foundation for the Americas (HFA) is the support organization for the National Alliance for Hispanic Health. HFA encourages philanthropy that invests in the human and social capital of community-based organizations that deliver innovative solutions for health and well-being in the Americas. For more information, visit

About the Merck Company Foundation
The Merck Company Foundation is a U.S.-based, private, charitable foundation. Established in 1957 by the global research-driven pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. Inc., the Foundation is funded entirely by the Company and is Merck’s chief source of funding support to qualified, non-profit, charitable organizations. Since its inception, the Merck Company Foundation contributed more than $524 million to support important initiatives that address societal needs consistent with Merck’s overall mission to enhance the health and well-being of people around the world. For more information, visit

Alliance/Merck Ciencia (Science) Hispanic Scholars Program
2012 Alliance/Merck Ciencia Scholar Profiles – Elizabeth, NJ

Yahira Mendoza
Alexander Hamilton Preparatory Academy, Elizabeth, NJ

Dangerous road taken by some in urban environments sparks young woman’s desire to reach them through education. Yahira Mendoza, 18, graduated from Alexander Hamilton Preparatory Academy in Elizabeth, New Jersey. She received a 2.9 GPA while participating in soccer, an after school dance group, a beach cleanup group, and volunteer work with the elderly at her church. She also babysat and worked at Home Depot. She plans to major in Mathematics Education and would love to teach math in an urban district. Her teachers describe her as resilient, positive, mature, and intellectually curious. Yahira has learned a lot about the path she must avoid through family members’ mistakes. Seeing how a few bad choices can destroy lives, she has since felt compelled to take her education seriously and move toward her goals. She has watched students struggle in mathematics and believes that she could make a difference and help students learn the significance of the subject in their lives. She wants to improve the next generation of learners and break the cycle of misfortune that she has seen affecting the Hispanic community.

Janelle Rivera
Elizabeth High School, Elizabeth, NJ
Biological Sciences

Desire to study animals in depth is inspiration to pursue dream career as veterinarian. Janelle Rivera, 17, graduated from Elizabeth High School in Elizabeth, New Jersey. She received a 3.5 GPA while volunteering with the Boys & Girls Club and the Humanitarian Club, a group that volunteers with various different organizations on the weekends. She intends to double major in Animal Science and Biology for a pre-veterinary program. Janelle’s teachers describe her as eager, cooperative, questioning, and a very mature person with a pleasant personality. She has learned from growing up in a diverse country that we should appreciate and learn from the different cultures that surround us. In middle school, Janelle moved to Puerto Rico, her parents’ land of origin, and struggled to fit in because of her American ways. Ultimately, she found her experience invaluable because she learned to understand and embrace her roots. Ever since she was young, she has loved animals, and after discovering another passion in biology, she is pursuing her dream job as a veterinarian. Janelle hopes to be an inspiration for all Hispanics who want to push past life’s obstacles and follow their dreams.

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Marcela Gaitan
National Alliance For Hispanic Health
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