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April 15, 2004 • Volume 12 Number 15

Arivee Vargas '05: "[Archbishop] Romero believed in social change, giving his life for his people because he believed that everyone deserved the gift of love and of life." (Photo by Suzanne Camarata)

Romero Scholarship Winner Sees Future in Civil Rights

A Boston College junior who plans to dedicate her life as an activist for Latin American causes is the winner of the 2004 Oscar A. Romero Scholarship.

University President William P. Leahy, SJ, presented Arivee Vargas with the award at the annual Romero Scholarship Awards Ceremony held March 27 in the Welch Dining Room of Lyons Hall.

The award, which is equal to three-quarters of a year's tuition, is given to a junior who best represents the ideals and values of Archbishop Romero, an activist for the poor in El Salvador who was assassinated in 1980 while celebrating Mass.

The Romero Scholarship winner is selected by a committee of faculty, staff, students and alumni. The Romero Committee also announced Magnolia Contreras '90 as this year's recipient of the Father John A. Dineen, SJ, Hispanic Alumni Community Service Award.

"Romero believed in social change, giving his life for his people because he believed that everyone deserved the gift of love and of life," said Vargas in a recent interview. "His message is very powerful and that's an excellent example of how I want to live my life."

A native of Lynn majoring in sociology, Vargas has been active in a number of international and local service programs throughout her undergraduate career, including the Organization for Latin American Affairs. She also serves as a tutor at the Massachusetts Arts and Technology Charter High School in Boston.

Vargas, whose family is from the Dominican Republic, credits her parents for instilling in her a sense of pride in her native culture and for teaching that it was her responsibility to stand up for other Latin Americans.

"My father would always stress the value of education. He knows a lot of Latin American history and was always telling us the learn more," said Vargas.

An aspiring attorney, Vargas not only wants to earn a law degree, but also wants to earn graduate degrees in public policy and education.

"I want to work as a civil rights lawyer, fighting for policies such as Affirmative Action and immigrant rights," said Vargas, who wants to help formulate educational policies that will "benefit disenfranchised Latino and other AHANA children who are often told in one form or another, that they do not belong here in the U.S. and that they cannot make it."

"I am here to tell them that they can make it, despite the society that tells them they cannot. I am here to tell them to believe in themselves, to love themselves as God loves them," said Vargas.

-Stephen Gawlik

A Q&A with Arivee Vargas can be viewed at on-line.

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