Even successful Latinx physicians are often overwhelmed by the responsibility that inevitably comes with being one of the first in the family to reach seemingly insurmountable milestones—graduating from college, becoming a doctor, or publishing in academia.

“Being the first and only Latina in the department—or sometimes the entire medical center—can lead to fatigue and unanswered questions,” said Dr. Carla Minutti, a pediatric endocrinologist and researcher at Rush University Medical Center.

Many underrepresented and underserved communities have significant barriers to enroll and complete degrees in many disciplines and modalities of healthcare, not the least of which is a financial one.

Program History and Advancements
  • In 2018, after only celebrating one year since MOLA’s founding, we received a donation from Salesforce to facilitate our inaugural scholarship award.
  • Since 2019, we are honored to count on a partnership with the Michael Reese Research and Education Foundationfor scholarship funds to provide scholarships for even more students and support their paths towards a successful healthcare career.
  • In 2020, the Dr. Pilar Ortega, MD Scholarship was announced in honor of MOLA’s Founding President.
  • In 2021, the Epicenter for Action Research has supported MOLA’s access to the organizational platform, in order to facilitate MOLA-MRF Scholar programming and management.

By offering scholarships on an annual basis, MOLA, in partnership with the Michael Reese Research and Education Foundation (MRF), aims to offer an important and meaningful source of support for our talented youth in order to reduce the overwhelming cost that many students face in the process of seeking a degree in healthcare. The MOLA-MRF Scholars Program is a meaningful investment in the talent needed to address health inequities. MOLA-MRF Scholars will also be the future leaders that will move forward MOLA’s mission of addressing the health needs of Latinos with the most need in Chicago and beyond.

“Our scholarships are much more than financial support,” states Dr. Pilar Ortega, MOLA’s Founding President. Selected scholarship recipients become MOLA-MRF Scholars, which means they are guided and supported in designing and conducting a research project with impact for Latinx health. “We want to prepare our Scholars to become leaders at the forefront of health education, research, and clinical care by and for Latinx groups.”

According to Dr. Jonathan Moreira, who chairs the MOLA-MRF Scholarship Subcommittee, “I joined MOLA so that we could help develop and mentor the next generation of Latinx healthcare leaders. There are few things as professionally rewarding as helping these vibrant young Hispanics and Latinos find their voice!”

On June 11th 2022, MOLA celebrated the 2022 MOLA-MRF Scholars at Center on Halsted. Click here to view the Photo gallery!

MOLA and MRF Leaders with the 2022 MOLA-MRF Scholar Recipients

*Note: Dates provided below are approximate and may vary year to year.


The MOLA-MRF Scholar Program includes the following elements:

  • Application review by Scholarship Subcommittee, Finalist selection (may include brief interviews and/or submission of additional material), and Notifications of acceptance (January-February)
  • Accepted Scholars participate in the MOLA Scholarship Celebration to inaugurate the start of the program (Spring)
  • 1:1 Scholar-Research Mentor pairing. Scholar preferences and areas of interest are taken into careful consideration and matched with MOLA Research Mentors (Spring)
  • Project idea development and progressive supervision by experienced Latinx health researchers who supervise the Scholar Program (Spring)
  • Implementation of project idea with structured submission deadlines for progressive research components approximately between April and October. Structured deadlines are provided for all Scholars, but individual Scholars are encouraged to work with their Mentor and Supervisor to tailor deadlines as needed to their specific project and scheduling needs.
  • Research in Progress monthly presentations and weekly virtual check-ins with MOLA-Scholar cohort and supervisors. Scholars hone their research and presentation skills and troubleshoot issues that arise during their research in a low-stakes positive learning environment in which peer and supervisor feedback is shared for everyone’s academic development and growth. Scholars must attend a minimum of 50% of check-in meetings and present at one Research in Progress session. (June-August)
  • Presentation at the MOLA Latino Health Symposium. Abstracts, which are submitted by Scholars in preliminary form in June, are scored by blinded reviewers. Selected abstracts are assigned as oral or poster presentations at the Symposium and are eligible for academic awards based on symposium presentation judging results. (October)


MOLA’s Scholars program will provide financial support ranging from $3,000 to $10,000 per calendar year to be applied to tuition and/or living support for  full- or part-time Hispanic/Latinx students enrolled in accredited health technical, undergraduate, or graduate programs, including but not limited to medical school. Half of the scholarship is awarded at the start of the program and the second half is awarded upon successful completion. MOLA Scholars commit to completing program requirements as described above. Approximate time commitment for completion of the scholarly project is estimated at a minimum of 5 hours/week over 6-month period per schedule arranged by individual awardees between March and October, 2021. Failure to adhere to program requirements may result in the forfeiture of awarded scholarship.


  • Hispanic/Latinx heritage
  • Demonstrated interest in pursuing a health career
  • Demonstrated interest in service to the Hispanic/Latinx community
  • Student must be currently pursuing higher education in a healthcare field and in good academic standing. (Technical, Undergraduate, Graduate programs, including medical school, will be considered)

The following components are part of the online Scholarship application form. Please note that the form must be completed all at once (you cannot save and submit later).

  1. Demographic information will ask basic information about you.
  2. Educational information will ask about your educational background and schools you have attended.
  3. Scholarship and Academic/Professional Development will ask about your individual academic plans and dreams with four short essay questions. We want to get to know what sets you apart and why MOLA’s scholarship opportunity is right for you!
  4. Indicate your commitment to complete a scholarly project that includes a minimum of 5 hours/week over 6-month period per schedule arranged by individual awardees between March and October, 2021. Awardees will be assigned a MOLA physician or health professional mentor to supervise and guide their work.
  5. Indicate your commitment to present project at the MOLA Latino Health Symposium in the Fall of the following calendar year (October, 2022, exact date TBD.)

The following materials should be submitted according to the instructions on the MOLA Scholarship website, via email attachment to [email protected]. Please include “YOUR NAME – MOLA SCHOLARSHIP SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION” in the subject line of your message, all materials must be submitted via email. If a candidate needs an alternative way to send materials (e.g., through physical mail), they should contact us for specific instructions by emailing Please note that applications will not be considered “complete” until all materials have been received.

1) 2 letters of recommendation (Note: must be on institutional letterhead and signed by the letter writer).
2) Letter of good standing from your current educational institution or other documented proof of good standing.
3) Most recent academic transcript.
4) Up-to-date Curriculum Vitae.
5)    [Optional] Documentation that demonstrates financial need, if applicable. Acceptable documentation includes FAFSA form, and/or may also include income tax statements or other documentation demonstrating financial need. Applicants are invited to include a written statement explaining financial need. However, official documentation such as a FAFSA form or income tax statements must supplement the statement.

Deadline: Monday, December 19, 2022

  1. Selected finalists may be asked to submit additional material and/or participate in a brief interview with members of the selection committee.

Please submit application and all supporting documentation by Tuesday, December 19th, 2023. Please note that incomplete applications will not be considered. Recipients of the MOLA Scholarship will be notified at the MOLA Anniversary and Awards Event in the Spring, 2024 (exact date TBD).

Q: Does my recommender have to send their letter of recommendation to the scholarship committee email ([email protected]), or do I send it for them?

A: We accept letters both ways, either sent directly by the letter writers or included by the applicant in the single email with all supporting documents. *Most importantly, the letter should be written or typed on an institutional letterhead and signed by the letter writer.

We also request the following for the subject line of the emails that include application documents sent by either yourself or your recommenders: “APPLICANT NAME – MOLA SCHOLARSHIP SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION”. This is to help us streamline the process and ensure that we can organize all your materials properly.


Q: Is this scholarship exclusive to Chicago residents and/or students attending a school in Chicago, or may any student apply granted that they meet the other requirements?

A: There is actually no geographic requirement to be eligible. Having said that, when they apply, scholars must agree that if they are selected, they will:

  • work with a MOLA mentor, so if they are not based in Chicago, mentoring meetings and check-ins will be remote (because of COVID, the program as a whole will most likely be remote regardless)
  • attend the March scholarship celebration (this year it will be remote, so it won’t require travel costs)
  • attend the October symposium


Q: How many MOLA Scholars will be selected for this upcoming cohort?

A: We wish that we could provide a spot to as many applicants as we desire, but based on the number of mentors and scholarship budget, we will grant spots to around 10-15 applicants.


Q: What is a letter of good academic standing and how do I obtain one?

A: A letter of good academic standing is an official document from your academic institution that can be requested through your registrar.

Q: is the scholarship open to undocumented/DACA students?

A: Yes it is! All students who apply to our scholars program are considered for regardless of their citizenship status.

The Pilar Ortega MD Scholarship aims to recognize a MOLA Scholar who uniquely exemplifies the following 3 qualities:

  1. Leadership: demonstrates exemplary and passionate leadership, inspires others, paves a path and innovates when necessary, and welcomes challenges.
  2. Academic vision: demonstrates intellectual curiosity, asks excellent questions and seeks their answers in an evidence-based fashion, demonstrates strong commitment to disseminating knowledge through activities such as teaching, research, presenting, and/or publishing.
  3. Meaningful action: as an agent of change, is not satisfied with knowledge alone, but rather converts knowledge into action to make an impact in the community.
During the course of the MOLA Scholar program, MOLA’s executive committee will actively review feedback from Scholar program supervisors, mentors, and peers to determine who will be recognized with the annual Pilar Ortega MD Scholarship, which will consist of an additional financial stipend and will be awarded on October 7-8, 2022 (during the Symposium).

MOLA and Michael Reese Scholars Program.