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Spotlight On … Mayra Tenorio Lopez ’15

Mayra Tenorio Lopez ’15 was named a Gates Cambridge Scholar, the third Swarthmore alum to receive the honor. As a master of philosophy student, Tenorio will explore how indigenous women in Guatemala use their bodies to resist gendered violence within their community.

What does this honor mean to you?

Being named a Gates Cambridge Scholar is an immense opportunity for me to develop as a scholar, and it also gives me the big responsibility of finding ways to bridge the new set of skills and voice I will gain with the larger communities I want to serve. 

How has Swarthmore shaped your career—and your life?

Swarthmore encouraged me to see myself as capable of producing knowledge, which very much widened a world of possibilities for me. The various people that make up Swarthmore—professors, administration, staff, students—are the ones who I will always be thankful to because it was their mentorship and constant support that allowed me to get to where I am today.

What advice would you give current Swarthmoreans hoping to follow in your path?

Never let fear or doubt limit you. I still struggle with insecurities about what I am doing, where I am going, or whether I have the right qualifications, but I try to not let it stop me from pursuing new projects or opportunities. I was never sure that I could get the Watson Fellowship or that I would even move past the first round of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, but my approach was to at least try and take it a step at a time. 

Anything else you’d like to say?

I've had various students ask me for advice on the application process for fellowships and scholarships. My No. 1 recommendation is always to learn how to tell a good story. A story that will reflect who you are, what your passions are, and where you want to go.