Jessica Soto Perez Tribute

Remembering Jessica Soto Perez

UMBC PROMISE Peer Mentor: Jessica Soto Perez

Jessica Soto Perez was one of the first Peer Mentors for the PROMISE program. She understood and supported the mission of AGEP (Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate) and was pleased to be a part of PROMISE: Maryland's AGEP. She was a friend and mentor to her peers, and a constant source of inspiration for graduate students, undergraduate students on many campuses, as well as members of the UMBC faculty and staff. Jessica was a regular participant in the Horizons programs at UMBC and was a regularly sought after panelist for both the Graduate and Summer Horizons forums. Jessica participated in all of the activities on all of our PROMISE alliance campuses, UMBC, UMB, and UMCP. In addition, she was a participant in the PROF-it, Professors-in-Training, subsidiary of PROMISE. As a part of the PROF-it portion of PROMISE, Jessica received training from the UMBC Faculty Development Center and the University of Maryland College Park Center for Teaching Excellence. Jessica was one of the lecturers for the McNair Scholars Research Course in 2004, and had recently been a participant in the Howard University and the University of Texas at El Paso Preparing Future Faculty Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Summer Institute in Washington D.C. 

This summer, Jessica was one of the Graduate Advising Fellows for Undergraduate Admissions. Jessica taught Saturday classes for the Regional Upward Bound Math and Science center, and was an inspiration to all of the students, especially the young women. Jessica was also a TA in the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering. She loved her research on chromatography and was planning to return to her alma mater, the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, to become a professor. Jessica was a light to all who knew her. She always had a smile, a word of encouragement, a wink, or a laugh. She shared her passion for life. She loved her family and her friends. She loved PROMISE, her lab (Dr. D. Frey) and the people in the TRC building, her department (Chemical and Biochemical Engineering), and her schools (UMBC, graduate school, University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez, Undergraduate). We will miss her!
  • Contribute to the Jessica Soto Perez University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez - UMBC Graduate School Bridge Fund  
    This fund will provide financial support to students from the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez to attend UMBC's Graduate School. Contributions can be sent to:

    Ms. Kim Robinson, Campaign Manager
    Office of Institutional Advancement
    8th Floor, Administration Building
    1000 Hilltop Circle
    Baltimore, MD 21250

    Please make checks payable to: UMBC Foundation.
    Please be sure to write Jessica Bridge Fund in the memo space of your check.
    Contributions can also be made online, .  Check the box marked "other" and write Jessica Bridge Fund in the box.
    Contributions are tax deductible.

Here are some of our PROMISE: Maryland's AGEP memories. Thank you for allowing us to share them with you.

(1) Jessica and Alisha get ready to board the bus for Coolfont. (2) Rob (PROMISE Inter-campus Liaison), takes pictures with everyone in PROMISE that weekend in March, here is his picture with Jessica.

(1) After dinner with (First Row) Tip, Curtis, Jessica, Delphi; (Second Row) Gloria (UMCP), Vera, Rob, and Sonia. (2) Jessica smiles after giving her presentation at the Graduate Student Research Forum at UMBC, April 2004. 

1) A PROMISE photo with students from all three campuses: Left to right: Erica (UMB), Jessica, Kim (UMB), Curtis, Ulunna (UMCP), Delphi, Sly, and Sean (UMB);

Jessica and Sean (Graduate Student at UMB) construct a mindbending puzzle with their team at Coolfont.

(1) Peggy, Curtis, Sean, Jessica, Bernard, and Vera talk at one of the houses at Coolfont. (2) Sly and Jessica play Scrabble at the PROMISE Family and Friends Cookout and Recognition of Graduates. Jessica also had her dominoes that day for anyone who wanted to play!

(1) Sly, Jessica, Willie (UMCP), Angela (UMCP), and Shahza play scrabble. (2) Sly, Vera, and Jessica 

(1) Keondra, Sonia, Vera, and Jessica, (2) Jessica and Dr. Tull discuss her future plans after a Success Seminar on Finances, this discussion was about becoming a professor, connecting with industry, and buying many acres in Puerto Rico with enough space for horses!

Jessica and Sonia on the bus during the PROMISE trip to 
Coolfont in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.

Jessica's RESEARCH:
Bioseparations and chromatography, separation and purification of biopolymers, novel methods for chromatofocusing, design and optimization of ion-exchange processes. Her most recent poster was: "Behaviour of the Inadvertent pH transients formed by a salt gradient in the ion-exchange chromatography of proteins."

Campus Mourns ...
(Excerpts from the UMBC website, 2004)
The UMBC administration, faculty and staff are grieving for the tragic loss of student Jessica Soto Perez. Ms. Perez, an outstanding, 26-year-old Ph.D. student in the department of chemical & biochemical engineering, was the victim of a fatal shooting.
Ms. Perez earned her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez prior to coming to UMBC. An active and engaged member of the UMBC community, Ms. Perez was a graduate teaching assistant in the department of Chemical & Biochemical Engineering and served as a peer mentor and counselor to other graduate and undergraduate students. She also served as a senator in the graduate student association.
"Our Jessica was dear to all of us and this will be hard to deal with," said Govind Rao, chair of chemical and biochemical engineering. "While every such tragedy is senseless, hers seems particularly more so, given her absolutely positive and life-embracing spirit. While this is hard for us, it is even more important to keep her family in our thoughts and prayers, as it must be far worse for them."
University Counseling Service (410-455-2473 or ext. 5-2474) has trained counselors available to lend support to students, faculty and staff who knew Ms. Perez or who are otherwise affected by this incident. University Counseling Service hours are Monday ­ Friday, from 8:30 a.m. ­ 5:00 p.m. No appointments are needed.

Jessica's funeral was held in Puerto Rico on July 8, 2004; San Sebastian Memorial Home; Route 111; Kilometer 17.4; Barrio Guatemala; San Sebastian; Puerto Rico 00685

We invite PROMISE members to offer tributes to loved ones who have inspired them.

When a student goes to grad school, he/she is usually thinking about the excitement of new classes, the promise of the Ph.D., the effect that he/she will have on the world with newly acquired expertise. But when "life happens" (e.g. a loved one passes away) it is unexpected, and unplanned. This site is dedicated to those loved ones who have passed away, to those persons who are alive and continue to encourage, and to you, the grad students who are determined to press forward to continue to achieve your goals.

Feel free to post thoughts, photos, stories ... your tributes.