(4-14-99) -- Seniors Akbar Rahman and Joey Shanley, who helped launch a service program in El Salvador, were presented with the first Congressman John Joseph Moakley Award for International Service at a ceremony Monday in Burns Library.
"I commend Boston College for establishing an award acknowledging the importance of social justice, and preservation of human rights," said Moakley, who was given a replica of the award by Shanley and Rahman, "and encouraging students to make a difference in the lives of others, to take a stand against oppression and tyranny, and to respect individual freedom and dignity."
Established last year, the Moakley Award honors a student who has shown a deep interest in and commitment to the promotion of social justice and human rights throughout the world while at Boston College. It recognizes the courage and dedication of Moakley in working for years to promote a just American policy abroad while representing the Massachusetts Ninth Congressional District.
"We should encourage individuals who strive to make our world more compassionate, more just," said University President William P. Leahy, SJ, in his remarks, praising Rahman and Shanley, and describing Moakley as "a person of passion and dedication, and a tenacious advocate for social justice and human rights."
Shanley and Rahman traveled to El Salvador while attending Bellarmine Preparatory School in San Jose, Calif. and worked with the University Chaplaincy to arrange a similar program for BC students. The El Salvador Immersion Experience began last year when Rahman and seven other students visited the country with Prof. David Gill, SJ (Classical Studies), and Graduate School of Social Work student Emily Roy.
Shanley, who is helping coordinate a second trip scheduled to take place in late May, describes the program as "a spiritual journey" which offers insights into the country's political and economic situation. Participants hold weekly meetings and reflections prior to the visit.
Moakley, awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree by Boston College in 1992, is often cited for his response to the 1989 assassination of six Jesuit priests and two women in El Salvador, demonstrating a deep commitment to bringing those involved to justice and to continuing the murdered Jesuits' important work on behalf of the poor.
Rahman, a Presidential Scholar and an International Studies major, has been active in the Chaplaincy's 4Boston Council and Appalachia Volunteer service programs, and served as a Senior Retreat team leader.
"This is not about us, but the idea of justice," he said upon receiving his award, "and that there are people out there without a voice."
Shanley, a Political Science major, has been active with the Undergraduate Government of Boston College's Drug and Alcohol Issues Council since his sophomore year, and was council co-director last fall. He also has served with the UGBC Peer Advising Network and the Ignacio Volunteers. At the ceremony, he thanked Boston College for providing opportunities for international experiences and expressed appreciation to Moakley for "opening the problems of El Salvador up to the world."
During his invocation at the ceremony, University Chaplain Richard Cleary, SJ, recognized University Chancellor J. Donald Monan, SJ, as an "eloquent speaker" for justice following the 1989 murders during his presidency.
Senior Vice President James P. McIntyre, who served as emcee for the event, noted that many of the students in attendance had also participated in Central American service programs.
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