UK international student Sofia Gonzalez was awarded the Emergency Student Fund Grant funded by the Institute of International Education (IIE) this year. This grant was funded to help students from Venezuela who are experiencing financial struggles due to the current political crisis in their home country.
Gonzalez was one of the 59 outstanding Venezuelan students enrolled in a U.S. institution to receive this award for showing great dedication and involvement in the community. Throughout her years at the University of Kentucky, Sofia has grown to become a leader not only among her international peers but also among her female, Hispanic engineer classmates.
“All my involvement on-campus has been directed to impacting people in a positive way,” Gonzalez said. “With my studies and research, I want to be able to impact my field and improve living standards for everyone.”
As an engineering major, Gonzalez has made the Dean’s list multiple semesters proving herself academically. She also started to get involved as soon as she arrived on campus. First, she joined the International Student Ambassador program with the International Center. Since then, she has also been the public relations chair of the Society of Women Engineers, a resident advisor in Woodland Glen IV and in Lewis Hall , member of the International Student Leadership Team (ISLT) and is now the president of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), an organization she founded her junior year.
Karen Slaymaker, assistant director of International Student and Scholar Services, had been following Gonzalez’ journey and knew she could be a well-deserving winner, so she brought the IIE award to her attention.
Gonzalez expressed gratitude toward the International Center’s staff, for believing in her and advocating on her behalf for this scholarship.
“This award will allow me to finish my education at the University of Kentucky and follow my next educational journey as a Ph.D. student in Chemical Engineering,” Gonzalez said. “Without their support, I don't know where would I stand now. I am forever grateful for their support and encouragement.”