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Vallejo Wins Romero Honor

04/25/13
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Jessica Vallejo '14 hears the applause after being announced as the Romero Scholarship winner. (Photo by Caitlin Cunningham)

By Kathleen Sullivan | Chronicle Staff

Published: Apr. 25, 2013

Junior Jessica Vallejo, who credits her experiences in the Arrupe International Immersion trip to Mexico and a fellowship program on the legal profession with shaping her personal and world views, is this year’s Archbishop Oscar A. Romero Scholarship recipient.

The scholarship, which covers 75 percent of senior year tuition and is awarded to a Boston College junior who demonstrates a commitment to the values and ideals reflected in the life of Archbishop of El Salvador Oscar Romero. Vallejo, was honored with the award recently in a ceremony hosted by the Romero Scholarship Committee. 

Vallejo, from Queens, NY, is a political science major with a double minor in International Studies and women and gender studies. Since her freshman year, she has been active in the student group Organization of Latin American Affairs (OLAA) and serves as editor of Sabor, its Latin America literary/art magazine. She also is involved in the AHANA Leadership Council and the Women of Color Caucus.

Vallejo cites her Arrupe International Immersion trip as “one of the most transformative experiences” of her BC career. “In many of the young women I met in Cuernavaca, I saw myself. I could have easily been them had I been born — by sheer luck — in a different part of the world or had I not been provided with the support and opportunity to attend college.”

Witnessing social, political and economic injustice, she said, “allowed me to see that not only do I have a duty to, but that I could, through my education, do something to help achieve a more just system.”

Vallejo, who plans to attend law school, was a participant in the Lindsay Fellowship Program — a summer educational program for college students interested in careers in the law — where she worked hands-on with both judges and law clerks, took an intensive legal research and writing course taught by a law school professor and interned at the US Attorney’s office. At the conclusion, she participated in a moot court before a federal judge.

“Learning about the law’s power and significance was vital, as it helped me realize that through the law I can work to uplift the Latino community working in a variety of areas and issues that affect our community,” said Vallejo.

In addition to support from friends, Vallejo praises her parents and her mentor, Carroll School of Management part-time faculty member Arivee Vargas ’05, JD ’08 — the 2004 Oscar Romero Scholar — for fueling her passion and work ethic.

“I owe everything I am today to [my parents’] hard work and dedication,” she said. “They have given me more than I could ever ask for, in love, values and motivation. [Arivee’s] guidance, instruction, encouragement and example have given me the assurance that it is possible to succeed as a Latina, and to work to achieve social justice through the law. She has been an incredible support and a huge source of inspiration.”

Also honored at the ceremony was Alberto Vasallo III ’89, the 2013 Rev. John A. Dinneen, SJ, Hispanic Alumni Community Service Award winner. Last year, Vasallo was named president and CEO of El Mundo, New England’s premier Latino newspaper, where he has worked since 1981.

The other Romero Scholarship finalists were Andrea Lopez, a nursing major who is a member of the Voices of Imani gospel choir and president-elect of the Massachusetts Student Nurses Association; Andrea Roman, a political science major who serves as a mentor for the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston; and Victoria Torres-Vega, an applied psychology and human development major who serves as site leader for the Lawrence Recreation Department and advocate for the Lawrence Juvenile Courthouse.