FORT BUCHANAN – Stephanie Silvagnoly, a native of the El Tuque de Ponce neighborhood, made history by recently becoming the first young Puerto Rican to be selected at the United States level, to receive a full scholarship from the Army to study optometry.
“For me it was always a dream to be a doctor, but I didn’t know how I was going to achieve it,” said the woman from Ponce in written communication, and who is a product of the Jardines de Ponce Public High School.
From humble origins, Silvagnoly decided to join the Army Reserve in search of professional and personal development opportunities.
“I joined the Reserve in 2015 as a private, because I wanted to have contact with other cultures, other realities as part of my growth,” added Silvagnoly.
As a member of the Reserve, the young woman participated in several missions, including a humanitarian mission in Guyana and the activation after Hurricane Maria on the island.
“Those experiences in uniform have made me a better person and professional, sensitive to the great need that exists in other regions of the world,” said the student.
While serving in the Reserve, the young woman graduated Cum Laude from the University of Puerto Rico in Ponce with a bachelor’s degree in Natural Sciences, with a concentration in biomedical, becoming the first member of her family to obtain a university degree.
“Thanks to my grades, I was able to enter Inter’s Optometry program, but I didn’t know how I was going to pay the tuition. My only plan was student loans, ”said the young woman.
It was in the United States Army Health Professions Fellowship Program that Silvagnoly saw his dream come to fruition.
“I competed last year, but they didn’t pick me. It is a very strong competition. However, I didn’t let that put me off. I applied again this year and, thank God, I was selected, ”the young woman said excitedly.
As part of the process of receiving the approximately $ 100,000 scholarship, which includes tuition, books, fees, and a monthly stipend, the United States Army promoted Silvagnoly to the rank of Second Lieutenant.
“My only concern now is concentrating on my studies and doing a good academic job. Once I graduate, I will serve in the active Army, where I will gain many more personal and professional experiences, ”said the young woman.
The Health Professions Scholarship Program, by its name in English, assists students from the United States or Puerto Rico, to complete their preparation in general medicine, dental, veterinary medicine, nursing, psychology or optometry.
Those interested in applying can visit https://www.goarmy.com/amedd/education/hpsp.html