Sowing the Seeds of Education
As a child, Victoria Cavanaugh ’07 was awed by a documentary about a lay missionary in El Salvador who, along with three religious, was murdered by Salvadoran troops. Little did she realize that the seed for her future nonprofit, Nuestro Ahora or “Our Now,” was sown that day.
The story of that martyr, however, continued to inspire her and as a Boston College junior she studied at the country’s Jesuit-run University of Central America (UCA). There Cavanaugh worked at Comunidad Oscar Arnulfo Romero, a home for children and orphans named in honor of the slain archbishop. She soon discovered that almost none of its secondary school graduates had the means to continue their education—and her mission became clear.
Using money cobbled from summer and school jobs, Cavanaugh funded the first scholar at UCA in January 2007. Nuestro Ahora now supports two scholars, whose annual costs amount to about $3,300 a year each. She hopes to sponsor three additional students in January, and spent much of last summer back home in western Massachusetts making presentations to local parishes, asking not only for financial assistance, but, she says, “thoughts and prayers.”
Now a graduate student at UCA, Cavanaugh keeps in contact with Nuestro Ahora’s many friends and supporters through her blog: nuestroahora.blogspot.com.
Below, she offers some reflections:
What is the most satisfying moment in your professional life?
Founding Nuestro Ahora and watching it go from a mere idea to a reality in such a short time.
In your personal life?
The moments I spend with kids at the orphanages. Their hugs, smiles, stories, and struggles move me greatly.
What is your best BC memory?
Early morning rows on the Charles River with the women’s crew team.
What is your next goal?
Working with scholarship students to develop a formal mentoring program to increase the educational opportunities available to youths still in Salvadoran orphanages.
What was the last book you read?
Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez.
How have you changed since graduation?
I speak Spanish more.
What is the most important lesson in life?
Giving freely and without expectation liberates others to respond freely, perhaps even greatly.
What do you look forward to each day?
Conversations shared over dinner each night with the scholarship students.
Who has influenced your life the most?
My grandparents, for their unconditional support. My parents, for their example of faith and sacrifice. And my younger brother, for always challenging me to do better.
Where is your favorite spot on the BC campus?
St. Mary’s Chapel.
Where do you most like to travel on vacation?
Cape Cod and the Adirondacks with my family.
Who would play you in the film version of your life?
Where did you live freshman year?
Keyes South on Newton Campus.
How much can you sing of the BC fight song?
I don’t sing much, but I can hum the refrain.
What is something your friends don't know about you?
I’d love to train to bobsled or play ice hockey in the Olympics.
What is the one meal you could eat for the rest of your life?
What is the latest song on your iPod?
If I had an iPod, it’d be Guardabarranco’s “Casa Abierta.”
How do you relax?
Running and daily Mass.
What is the one thing everyone should do?
To borrow from Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”