Growing up in a low-income household in San Jose, California, Sintia Marquez Jimenez ’22 learned that money often influenced important decisions. This realization became deeply personal when she secured the highly competitive Hunsaker Scholarship Prize, an award that meets the recipient’s full demonstrated financial need for all four years at Redlands.
“Being a first-generation student, you can only dream of getting a scholarship like that that enables you to go to college,” she says.
Marquez Jimenez chose to pursue dual degrees in economics and public policy with the goal of returning to her hometown to help people in her community. Combining her personal experiences with these two fields encourages her to think analytically about the world and fuels her passion to help those who are systemically disenfranchised.
“Realistically, I know that I have to be able to put things into practice and I realized that I could do a lot of good with those majors combined,” she says. “I didn’t really know what economics was and had never heard of public policy before I got to Redlands, but I’ve worked really hard to understand everything and have learned a lot by going to my professors’ office hours. They’ve given me a real-world perspective.”
One course that stands out in her mind is Pregnancy and Health with Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Jennifer Nelson. Marquez Jimenez recalls that being able to see the natural interplay of economics and policy at work changed the way she understood the world.
Over the summer, Marquez Jimenez was given another opportunity to flex her intellectual muscles when she was selected to attend University of Chicago’s inaugural Expanding Diversity in Economics Summer Institute. The three-week-long program aims to identify and support talented undergraduate students from a broad range of backgrounds. Out of more than 200 applicants, 45 students were chosen to participate, and Marquez Jimenez was one of only four third-year students in attendance.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the institute was facilitated remotely. For nearly 12 hours a day, Marquez Jimenez and her cohort studied economic theory, analyzed data, and listened to lectures from leaders in the field.
“One of the speakers talked about how exposure to literary works affects children,” she says, recalling University of Chicago Professor Anjali Adukia’s lecture. “Using economics, she explained how the presence of characters with different skin colors influences how kids see themselves.”
In addition to getting an introduction to graduate-level economics, Marquez Jimenez was able to network with students and faculty from across the country. The cohort continues to meet monthly for professional development workshops, virtual networking, and research opportunities.
Marquez Jimenez notes that her accomplishments are a direct result of the relationships she has been able to build and rely on at Redlands. Her advisor and first economics professor, Nick Shunda, helped her navigate the opportunities available to her—including the summer institute. David Boies Endowed Chair of Government Art Svenson became the first professor to get to know her on a personal level, speaking to her about the breadth of courses offered at Redlands during the Hunsaker Scholarship luncheon. Staff members in Campus Diversity and Inclusion—Interim Director Monique Stennis, Interim Assistant Director Peter Tupou, and Chaplain Emeritus John Walsh—have been “tremendously influential” and have changed how she interacts with others for the better.
“At a bigger school, I don’t know if I would be able to have the same relationships with faculty and students,” she says. “People here actually know me, and I’m able to talk to them about what’s happening in my life, and they support me. That’s the difference—I’m able to make my voice heard.”
Looking to the future, Marquez Jimenez knows that her success hinges on her ability to be flexible—a skill that she was able to practice at length during the pandemic while balancing school, work, and extracurricular activities.
“I’m learning how to take the lead and take care of myself in the process,” she says. “It’s not about where you see yourself, but what you do with what you’ve been given and how well you can adapt. Based on everything I’ve learned at Redlands, I know I can do that in the future.”