2018 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Jonathan Marquez was born in Houston to parents who migrated there from Mexico and Colombia. Despite a lack of financial means, Jonathan was able to attend Yale University where he arrived with a suitcase that contained everything he owned, having never stepped foot on a university campus before. After falling in love with biology, Jonathan majored in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. He conducted research in the lab of Martín García-Castro, studying neural crest cells that play a role in the early development of a variety of tissues. Inspired to pursue clinical and research training to address pediatric diseases though developmental biology and genetics, Jonathan joined the MD/PhD program at Yale.
Jonathan completed the PhD portion of the program in Mustafa Khokha’s Lab, which is part of the Pediatric Genomics Discovery Program that works with young patients suffering from unknown diseases to investigate a potential genetic cause of each of their mysterious conditions and model these to understand underlying developmental mechanisms. He will complete medical school in May of 2021 and will begin a residency training program in pediatrics.
Why did you apply to The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans?
I applied to the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships because I had met a number of previous Fellows who had been inspiring individuals and had expressed how valuable they found the Fellowship. By applying to the Fellowship, I hoped to join a group of people who were both leaders in their fields and had similar interests in advocating for the future of immigrants in this country.
Who has inspired you from the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship community?
I have been deeply inspired by the other Fellows in the community. Their dedication to improving the world for others both within their fields and beyond is a source of motivation for me in my own pursuits.
You’re now finishing up the second year of the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship program. Has the Fellowship been what you expected?
In many ways, I think it would have been difficult to have known what to expect of the Fellowship. I think the relationships formed with others and the conversations generated by putting this community together is a unique experience that can’t be anticipated.
As a New American, why has it been important to have The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships community?
Many of us New Americans typically find ourselves in institutions where our experiences are different from those of our peers, which can make it difficult to connect with others. The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships community is a space where I could reflect upon many of the experiences that I have had and what they mean for myself and others who have experienced similar things.
Do you have any favorite memories from the past two years as a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow?
One of the many great memories I have related to the Fellowship is one time when a local group of Fellows in New Haven went on a tour of the Glass House and afterwards the other Fellows surprised me with a cake for my birthday. It was very kind and thoughtful of them and it speaks to the overall feeling of the community created by the Fellowship.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of applying to The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans?
Do it! Even the process of applying is incredibly rewarding. I had never had to be so purposefully introspective with regard to my life as a New American, prior to beginning the application process.
How do you plan to stay active with the Fellowship community in the years to come?
I definitely plan to keep in touch with the other Fellows that I have met through the many events we have had. I also look forward to connecting with past and future Fellows through the initiatives developed by the PDSFA, our alumni association.
What does The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans program mean to you?
It means having a community of people with a diverse set of experiences as New Americans who are there for each other while also hoping to make positive impacts on the world. ∎