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Student Rui Soares Awarded 20th Romero Scholarship

Soares: "Award is such a blessing"

University President Willaim P. Leahy, SJ, greets Romero Scholarship winner Rui Soares '13 and his mother, Miriam. (Photo by Caitlin Cunningham)

By Reid Oslin | Chronicle Staff

Published: Apr. 12, 2012

Rui Soares, recipient of the University’s 20th annual Archbishop Oscar A. Romero Scholarship, says he is honored – and inspired – to have earned the esteemed academic prize.

“To win an award that carries Archbishop Romero’s name is such an honor to me because of the man who he was,” says Soares, a psychology major from Bayonne, NJ enrolled in the University’s pre-med program. “This man strived for the greater in life: the Jesuit ideal, the magis. To be given this award is such a blessing. It makes me feel like I have to carry it on, to keep going on with my life by focusing on what he preached, aspiring not to have more, but to be more.”

The Romero Scholarship is given to a third-year student who best represents the ideals and values of Archbishop Oscar Romero, an activist for the poor in El Salvador who was assassinated in 1980 while celebrating Mass.

University President William P. Leahy, SJ presented the scholarship award — three-quarters of a year’s tuition and a $1,000 gift certificate for the BC Bookstore — to Soares at a March 31 dinner and ceremony held in the Murray Room of the Yawkey Athletics Center.

Romero Scholarship winner Rui Soares '13 (Photo by Caitlin Cunningham)

Soares grew up in Miami, Fla., and Bayonne, where he attended Jesuit-run St. Peter’s Preparatory School in Jersey City. His mother is a native of Honduras and his father came to the United States from Portugal. “I want to show that anyone can make it out of a rough life if they so choose, with determination and a strong work ethic,” Soares wrote in his Romero scholarship application essay.

While at Boston College, Soares has been involved in a variety of service and community activities in addition to handling a challenging academic major. He has been a tutor in the University’s 4Boston program, a translator for non-Spanish-speaking doctors at a hospital clinic, program director and resident assistant for the Multicultural Leadership experience and a varsity sports cheerleader. He is also a member of the Organization of Latin American Affairs (OLAA) and has been on the Dean’s List for academic achievement in every semester since he enrolled at BC.

“I want to become a physician in the future,” says Soares, “but I want to do that especially in the Latino community. That’s where I come from. I’m a first-generation college student and a first-generation American.”

Soares, who received the Romero prize on the day that he celebrated his 21st birthday, says he was especially thrilled to accept the award in front of his mother and many campus friends who were among the 200 persons attending the dinner. “It was an amazing event, and the scholarship was the icing on the cake,” he says with a laugh. “And there’s no pun intended.”

A record 29 students were nominated for the Romero Award, notes Dining Services Employee Relations Officer Marcela V. Norton, who has served on the Romero Scholarship Committee since 1990 and co-chaired the selection group for the past three years.  

Besides Soares, this year’s scholarship finalists were: Jorge Miranda, a political science major who was co-chair of the recent Hispanic Heritage Month among his many other service activities; and Jonathan Rodriguez, a theology major who is director of the University’s AHANA Leadership Council and a social justice advocate. Both Miranda and Rodriguez will receive a $1,000 BC Bookstore certificate and a smaller scholarship award.

As part of the Romero Scholarship activities, more than 70 OLAA alumni, including five former Romero Scholarship recipients, attended a reunion event at the Boston College Club the night before the awards dinner. The inaugural winners of the Romero Scholarship, 1993 alumni Fernando Pinguelo and Yukmila Soriano, were unable to attend but sent video greetings to congratulate this year’s winner.  Pinguelo is currently an attorney in New Jersey and Soriano is a physician in Seattle.