Seniors to Remember: Matthew Alonsozana
Hometown: Elkridge, Md.
Major: Economics, philosophy
Notable Activities: Presidential Scholar; UGBC vice president; Student Assembly president; Asian Caucus of Boston College co-president; David L. Boren Scholarship for study in China; Aquino Scholarship; founder, American Enterprise Institute Executive Council at BC; marshal, Order of the Cross and Crown.
Post-graduation Plans: Serve as Republican legislative aide at Joint Economic Committee on Capitol Hill, or in congressional election campaign. Expects a career in politics.
Overview: With near-perfect SAT Scores (2390/2400) and conversational skills in Spanish, Mandarin and Tagalog, Alonsozana came to BC with plans of following his parents’ footsteps and being a doctor. But his political and social involvement at BC led Alonsozana to realize he wanted to affect the lives of people by giving them a voice. Alonsozana’s entrepreneurial spirit inspired him to start a college counseling company that he ran for three years. While studying in the Philippines he created an initiative to improve health access for 100,000 Manila residents and assisted World Bank policy recommendations on typhoon damage; he also spearheaded a $10,000 campus fundraising effort for typhoon relief.
How did your experiences at Boston College influence you to change your future plans from medicine to politics?
I came into BC wanting to be a doctor just like my parents. Some of my earliest memories were walking around hospitals with my mom and dad. One thing that I’ve always wanted to do was help other people, but I don’t think I had the opportunity or the time in high school to really discern what that meant. At BC, I definitely had those opportunities. Getting involved with the Asian Caucus and UGBC changed my perspective. What got me out of bed more and more were not necessarily my lectures but the different events I coordinated, the advocacy activities we pursued, and the Romney and Brown campaigns. The political bug bit me hard. It became more important for me to give people a voice.
Who has had the most profound influence during your time at Boston College?
The first person is Fr. James Keenan, director of the Presidential Scholars Program. I think he has a knack for understanding when highly ambitious and highly energetic people need to calm down and put things in perspective. An invaluable resource for me was to be able to walk into Fr. Keenan’s office and just talk, and to realize that at the end of the day the most important thing is not to have a perfect life but a full life. In terms of translating that to student life and the academic side of things, I think Gus Burkett, the director of the Student Programs Office, has really been a source of support in terms of translating my passions into ways that I can help the student body.
How do you think your activities influenced your four years at BC?
As I got more involved in my activities, I was more and more enthusiastic about applying what I had learned in the classroom through what I was doing. I’ve always been someone who’s wanted to create things and someone who’s wanted to leave a legacy. And yet, even though we create and craft unique policies and programs and events, those things only last for a couple of years and maybe they get a mention in The Heights or the Chronicle. However, the most important things for me, especially though my activities, were the people affected, the friends I’ve made, and the mentees I’ve instructed. And through those activities in which I met most of them, we’ve had a dynamic conversation, pulling in a lot of different elements of life.
What do you think you’ll miss the most about Boston College?
I will definitely miss the community the most. I devoted myself to the community as much as I could for my four years here, meeting people to the point where I walk across the Quad and am able to have conversations with dozens of folks – and then I’m late for class almost every time because I want to make sure everyone’s all right. I’ll miss that. BC is a very family-oriented place, not just with the image we project to families but in the way we treat each other. I could never have anticipated what a blessing it was to grow with these folks, my classmates and my friends. They’re not just relationships I treasure right now, they are relationships I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.
What advice would you give to incoming freshmen?
Live a full BC experience. I think every freshman comes in wanting to have a perfect college or university life and I did, too. That didn’t happen at all. Instead, what happened at BC were not just four of the most gratifying years of my life but four of the most challenging. Lots of ups and downs, lots of moments of self-confidence and lots of moments of self-doubt. But if you’re at the point where I am now and you’re just about to graduate, you want to be able to look back and say, “My time here at BC has been a really full one.”
How to live a full BC life is something that everyone has to define for him or herself. Too often freshmen put themselves up to a standard that is just unrealistic; instead we should be telling them, “You’re going to have four years here to grow in whichever way you want and you have four years here to really reflect and learn just what is the best way to love other people.” We need to be much more intentional in our messaging and in our mentorship about the centrality of love in BC’s identity and how that is tied into our motto “Ever to Excel.”
Of what are you most proud?
I am most proud of mentoring future student leaders, thereby catalyzing a dynamic campus dialogue. I went to a Jesuit high school so I’ve heard the saying “Men and women for others” for eight years now. In one regard, we have to be good role models, and I did my best to show the Asian community that you can branch out and you can occupy roles in the wider BC community. In another regard, how are we actively being there for others? It’s those conversations I have late at night with folks who I know are going to do a lot better job than I ever could, and helping them see that leadership is something they shouldn’t shirk.
What has been your favorite experience during your four years here?
My favorite experience was campaigning for UGBC. That was awesome. I made it a point to apply everything I had learned in politics from before that time to BC. We made every dorm a state and every floor a precinct and we had a precinct manager. We tried to use data-driven campaigning as much as possible, so we set up an Excel sheet and we had each door listed and said, “What are the voting intentions of the people in this room?” So that made it real for me, and I loved going through and just asking people, “What can I do to help you out?”
I think the best thing was the friendships we made on our team, which was huge – 200 to 300 folks who helped us out throughout that two-month campaign. It was a rough campaign and a very competitive election, but despite how close it was during certain moments, I think our messaging really resonated with people.
How has Boston College influenced you?
In talking to Fr. Keenan and other Jesuits here on campus, you can be a Jesuit or at least have a Jesuit mindset in whatever you do in life. I think the most salient thing they have mentioned to me is seeing God in all things and just treating other people the way you want to be treated. That mindset, and the fact that I now spend a lot of time reflecting and praying – I think I certainly became more religious as I went through BC – is something I’ll take with me.
I think Boston College has just been a blessing. I think the things we often appreciate as blessings are the unexpected things – and it was very unexpected that I was going to be here. Being the recipient of such generosity through the Presidential Scholars Program, but also through the different opportunities that have been put before me, has only encouraged me to be as generous as possible with my time, effort, and resources as I can be later on. I am truly proud of being able to say that I’m graduating as a BC Eagle.
Meet our next 'Senior to Remember,' Cristian Lopez