As a teenager working part-time in his family’s accounting business in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Edoardo Ortiz always thought he’d have a career at a Big Four accounting firm. But when he enrolled in the University of Puerto Rico in 2012, he decided that he wanted to have a different kind of impact by helping the territory’s economy stabilize and grow. He broadened his focus beyond accounting, adding classes in economics and finance to his undergraduate course load and earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
After graduating with honors in 2017, Ortiz learned about a unique opportunity to continue his education: the HBCU and HSI Bridge Scholarship program through the University of Chicago Professional Education.
Bridge Scholars are graduating seniors or recent alums of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) and Hispanic-serving institutions (HSI) who are selected to spend a year as UChicago graduate students-at-large. The program launched in 2015 with half-tuition scholarships and now offers full tuition to enable a more diverse group of scholars to take part. In 2018–19, two-thirds of the scholars continued on to graduate programs — and all of them chose to remain at UChicago.
Ortiz’s resolve to advocate for Puerto Rico strengthened after Hurricane Maria struck the island just as his Bridge year was beginning. He says that the Bridge Scholarship made an extraordinary difference to his future by providing the financial aid he needed to continue his education at a top school and boosting his confidence that he could pursue a master’s degree.
“I wish more people from the [Caribbean] islands would take advantage of the Bridge program to learn and to broaden their perspective. I’m very grateful I was able to do so, and I’ll do all I can to encourage others to do the same.”
After his Bridge year ended, Ortiz considered his options and decided to stay at UChicago to earn his MPP at the Harris School of Public Policy. “I chose Harris because I wanted an institution that would challenge me to develop a broad skill set of analytical tools with which to work on tangible policy solutions,” he says.