Nilka Montero '22: Improving the Lives of Others


As a first generation student, Nilka Montero ’22 is acutely aware of the social and economic gaps that can affect low-income families. Her parents encouraged her to succeed academically and helped her to develop into an exceptional student, and Montero is committed to using her education to improving the lives of others.

Montero is passionate about closing devastating gaps in U.S. healthcare. The Orlando, Florida, native chose Rice because of its unparalleled opportunities for pre-med students, its reputation for innovative policy intervention and its proximity to the Texas Medical Center.

“When I was growing up, healthcare was a struggle,” Montero explains. “We often didn’t have health insurance, so my parents never went to the doctor, and my extended family is slow to trust medical professionals. I want to eradicate the barriers that stand between so many Americans and good healthcare.”

Montero is a FLI (First Generation Low-Income) ambassador for Student Success Initiatives.

Currently a social policy analysis major, Montero’s goals are ambitious and two-fold. She wants to pursue a master’s degree in public health and to attend medical school. “I want to be able to interact with patients and to take that medical experience into the policy world. I want to use my knowledge to benefit the communities that need healthcare resources so badly.”

Montero also chose to attend Rice because of a generous financial aid package. It was during her freshman year that she learned about The Rice Investment. “I distinctly remember when I found out about it,” Montero remembers. “It was in the evening, and I was with my roommate in our room. We saw the Thresher article about The Rice Investment, and we both started crying. It was a really great moment.”

For Montero, The Rice Investment struck a number of chords. She was relieved to know exactly how her financial aid would be administered over her four years at Rice. She was happy for friends whose financial burdens would be lightened, and she was grateful that the university was taking the initiative to make Rice more accessible to students from different backgrounds.

“I am amazed by the generosity of those who are willing to contribute to my education and my future,” Montero says. “The Rice Investment is giving so many talented students the opportunity to succeed.”

To learn more about supporting The Rice Investment, reach us at 713-348-4600 or



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