​Manuela Soto

Manuela Soto

My name is Manuela Soto and I am going to be a third-year student in the Albert Dorman Honors College at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, New Jersey. I am majoring in biology with a concentration in neurobiology and an educational path in medical humanities. After finishing my undergraduate studies, I want to attend medical school so that I can become a neurologist. Not only do I want to be a physician with this specialty, I also want to focus on research and diagnostics, especially in the area where neurology and psychology meet. A large part of my educational and career goals have stemmed from the experience that my family and I have lived through because of an accident my father had at work.

My father used to work for a company that did overhead door installations, but in 2006 he suffered an injury that changed my family’s life forever. While working, one of the pieces of equipment that my dad was working with broke, and the resulting debris severely injured his face. My father lost an eye and almost his life, and he had to go through multiple surgeries to restructure his damaged nose and eye socket. I was seven years old at the time and my younger sister was five, and it was difficult for us to understand the gravity of the situation beyond the fact that our dad had been hurt and our lives would be different. My mother now had the task of not only being the sole financial provider for the family, but also of raising two young children and caring for my father. It was a struggle for all of us but we had to learn to adapt to the changes that resulted from my father’s accident.

Even now, years after the accident, life for my family is still far from easy. My father is now unable to work due to his overall health condition. Additionally, we have a new family member to take care of, my one-year-old baby sister.

Receiving the Kids’ Chance of New Jersey scholarship is priceless to me because of the sense of security that has come along with it. It will allow me to afford expenses that aren’t covered by my scholarship without worrying about how it might hinder my family’s day-to-day living expenses. Since my younger sister will hopefully be attending university as well in two years, this financial assistance with my learning expenses now is extremely helpful so that there will be less of a financial strain on my family when it is my sister’s turn. I am so thankful for receiving this scholarship because of how it has lifted a weight off of my family and will allow me to continue studying without the fear of being unable to pay for it.