Bill Markowitz Scholarship Award Winners

Bill Markowitz Scholarship Award Winners

Bill Markowitz Scholarship Award Winners 2020


Emely Garcia

The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies has impacted and changed my life for the better. If I had to put a name to describe ISP, it would be a supportive family. Since my first day at John Jay, all I ever received from ISP is love and support. I remember being scared by the image fed to me by my high school teachers that professors in college did not care about students and that they were rude, and then I met the professors in ISP.  They are amazing people and professors, role models, determined, kind, and passionate about the things they do, which are all the things that I aspire to be. They create a welcoming and safe space in which students could share their thoughts, beliefs, and opinions without feeling like they were judging us. They encourage the class to think critically and beyond the facts in situations. I was able to apply the skills I learned in class in my other courses. For the first time, I felt that what I had to say mattered to professors and this encouraged me to speak my mind and ask questions not just in classes but outside in the real world, as well as to questions the things that I don't agree with to make a difference and stop injustices.

ISP is the type of family that cares for you, advises you, guides you, gives you a reality checks when you need one. Most importantly, they help you grow, not just by teaching you the skills you need to succeed, but by teaching you how to be human, how to care for others, how to be emotionally intelligent. I am profoundly grateful for everything ISP taught me; I believe I wouldn't be the Emely I am today if it wasn't for ISP and the support that the program gave me when I first came to John Jay and continues to provide me with now. The skills I learned from ISP makes a better person every day.



Caitlin Garcia

The Interdisciplinary Studies Program has been a massive part of my higher education at John Jay. In my first semester, I took three ISP courses, which allowed me to fully immerse myself in the culture of the program. These courses stood out to me compared to the others because I was able to express myself more interactively with the students and professors. These classes were the highlight of my days because I knew I could communicate and understand real-life topics more profoundly.

During my first semester at John Jay, I questioned whether studying at this specific college was the best path for me. I wasn’t sure if going to college in Manhattan and striving for a completely different career than my sisters was plausible since no one else has tried to before. ISP then asked me if I wanted to be a part of their new ambassador program, intending to help first-year students thrive in ISP classes. I was touched that any of my professors thought to recommend me, and I believe that it was one of the many signs I received telling me to continue going to John Jay. In addition, in my Life Stories class I was able to help write a docudrama on legal and illegal immigration into the United States, a subject close to my heart because of the many people I know who have gone (and in some cases still are going) through the process of gaining residency in a country that currently rejects them. We gave a voice to those who would otherwise rarely speak of their experience. The project taught us how different people from different countries all want a better life. This project has opened my eyes to potentially study immigration law and help those who need their voice to be heard.


Alejandra Lopez-Rojas

“What the hell is ISP?” I remember my mom asking me the first time I told her about the program I had just enrolled in on my second day in New York. Now, two years into my degree at John Jay, looking back at that moment I feel so glad that I just happened to stumble into ISP.

ISP has represented everything I aspired to encounter by coming to the U.S. to study, and whereas some of my other classes have disappointed me along the way, ISP never has. It represents the reason I chose the degree I’m pursuing, the idea that you can go much further if you look at something from more than just one perspective. ISP has been an experience of not only learning to appreciate different points of views, but also learning that I myself have a point of view that is valuable. In almost no other classes but ISP have I actually been asked what I think about something.  For me, ISP has been a breath of fresh air where I know I can freely express myself about a topic we’re discussing because maybe my professors hadn’t approached it the way I did.

ISP is a true community where no one is looking to screw the other person; where you’re not in constant competition to get a higher grade than anyone; where the professors actually know who you are and how you think because you’re not just another head in a classroom.  Without ISP I would’ve never gotten to know some of my favorite professors who I know I can count on for a recommendation letter or to help choose my classes or even just for a chat. Likewise, I never would have met my best friend, who is now my roommate, and neither of us would’ve been able to get the apartment we now live in had it not been for the recommendation of yet another ISP professor. So what is ISP? ISP is a place for everyone to learn and teach each other, because we can all learn from one another.


Mirka Villarreal

The morals, ideas, and passions that shape me are all because of the ISP classes I have taken. To me, ISP is an opportunity to expand your perspectives on the world.  By taking ISP classes, I was able to view situations from a sociological, criminological, and philosophical perspective as well as many more. As I continued my studies here at John Jay, I realized that ISP has provided me with the education necessary to excel in my other classes.

If I had to say in one word what the Interdisciplinary Studies Program means to me, it would be opportunity. ISP classes have provided me with the opportunity to expand my perspectives on different topics. Instead of being a close-minded person, I am able to look at situations with different several lenses thanks to the readings we were provided with. Perhaps one of the most important opportunities that ISP has provided me with was the one to connect with New York. The values, the professors, and the endless opportunities are what persuaded me to choose ISP as a minor so that one day I can provide those opportunities given to me to others. Thanks to ISP, I will become a fierce advocate for justice.