Rosa Espinales moved from Ecuador to the United States in 2015 in pursuit of a better education. “I was always at the top of my class so my father thought studying abroad would help me grow professionally and personally,” she said. After spending a year learning English, Espinales applied to Mercy College and majored in health sciences. She always knew she wanted to be a doctor and her dream was starting to take shape.
Espinales is from a small town in Ecuador where there is no public transportation or hospital, requiring people to travel for about an hour for medical care. “When I was young, my mom experienced a still birth and I was so sad because I was not able to help her,” she explained. “In that moment, I realized how important it was for me to study medicine because I can’t bear to see people suffer.”
After Mercy College, Espinales began working as a medical scribe for CityMD. One of the leadership team physicians, Dr. Michael Tafoya, heard that she was interested in applying to the CUNY School of Medicine. He encouraged her to apply for the Summit Health Cares’ Dr. Marcia A. Sherman Scholarship to assist with tuition. He even wrote a letter of recommendation for her. And from there, everything started falling into place. Espinales received the scholarship in the summer of 2021 and began working towards a Master of Science in the Physician Assistant Program.
“Because I’m a foreign student, tuition is twice as much,” Espinales said. “Before I was accepted to CUNY, I was working seven days a week to save money for tuition. I’m so excited to get the scholarship.”
Not only is Espinales a first-generation college student, she’s also one who can boast consistent top grades. She is dedicated to working hard and fulfilling her dream. She’s slated to graduate from CUNY in the Physician Assistant Program in 2024. “I plan to specialize in general surgery; that requires two more years of school,” she clarified. After that, she hopes to obtain a Visa to work in New York. “I always dreamed of working at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in the surgery department,” she added, with a smile. And we have no doubt she will.
The Dr. Marcia A. Sherman Scholarship was started in honor of former Summit Health physician, Dr. Marcia A. Sherman. The scholarship honors a female medical student of color who embodies Dr. Sherman’s determination to overcome the obstacles that many newcomers face, providing access to funds that will help them through medical school. Rosa Espinales has overcome many obstacles in her quest for a better education. We can’t wait to see her join the ranks of the health care leaders of tomorrow.