Estefania Puerta has received $90,000 from The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, the premier graduate school fellowship for immigrants and children of immigrants in the U.S. Of 1,775 applicants, Puerta was one of 30 to receive this prestigous fellowship -- a decision made on the applicants' potential to make significant contributions to U.S. society, culture, or their academic field.
Estefania received her Bachelor of Science from the Community Development and Applied Economics (CDAE) department at UVM in 2010, majoring in Community and International Development. A standout student, teaching assistant, and community member, she remained in Burlington after graduation to deepen her pursuit of art, establish performance art events in Burlington, and strengthen the already vibrant Burlington art scene.
Born in Colombia, Estefania immigrated with her mother to Boston at the age of two, trailing her father, who had come to the U.S. the year before. Finally reunited, Estefania’s parents set out to pursue a future in which she could be the first in the family to graduate from college and have a better life.
It was during high school that Estefania discovered her love of art and literature. Art gave Estefania a new world to discover and cultivate. She went to the art museums in Boston and learned about art history, including the lack of inclusion and representation of women artists from different cultural backgrounds.
After high school, Estefania pursued a degree in community and international development at the University of Vermont. Not only did she get hands-on experience working with vulnerable populations, but she was also able to take art classes and cultivate her love of creative expression. As fruitful as this time was, Estefania was still unable to pursue certain endeavors due to her immigration status. She is grateful for the professors who pushed her to improve on her work and keep pursuing her dream.
Since graduating from college, Estefania has become a U.S. citizen. With the newly found privilege of citizenship, she is committed to ensuring others are given the same encouragement and support she was given while living in the shadows. Estefania has finally been able to follow her dream of being an artist. She is currently pursuing her MFA in painting and printmaking at the Yale University School of Art. She hopes to deepen her critical approach to her art practice and create space for more immigrant Latina artists in the art world.