Jean Santana's return journeys to his homeland—the Dominican Republic—as a leader of the Boston College Service Immersion trip reaffirmed his understanding of the message of Oscar Romero: “The poor are the key to what the world is really like and to what the mission of the Church should be.” A Sociology major in the College of Arts &Sciences and in the premedical program, Jeans has successfully combined a rigorous academic schedule with active participation on campus: OLAA and the AHANA Leadership Council, service trips to the Turkey Creek Initiative in post-Katrina Mississippi; educational initiatives in the Dominican Republic. He is also a member of the only all-male step-dancing team at Boston College and participated in research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute CURE program, where he concentrated on a Community Research Program project on disparities in the health care and mortality rate of Latina breast cancer patients..
1. What motivated you to apply for the Romero Scholarship?
Preliminary to my research, developed admiration, and love for Archbishop Romero, was the encouraging words of Nora Frias – the 2006 recipient and my OTE preceptor – to apply. Then I knew merely nothing of what this God sent man did for the poor; and in sparking interest I researched to later find myself enthralled by his scholarship, integrity, strength, leadership, and dedication to the life of those who held God’s revelation.
2. What was the most memorable question from the interview and how did you respond?
The most memorable question was: "Can you talk about the classes that have shaped you at Boston College and what has been special about them?" I answered saying that there have been many classes that have challenged me and shaped me to think critically and beyond what is immediately present in our society. With intro classes in biology, chemistry, and sociology I was enabled to look at things closely, from its smallest function to its largest influence in the family, community, state, nation or world. Moreover, with courses like the Community Research Program and Research Methods in sociology I was informed enough to probe with my own questions. Through them I developed an even deeper understanding to health issues and social behavior to hopefully institute a new way for the community to better itself.
3. How did you feel when you heard your name called as the award winner?
A tight squeeze from my mother's joyful hand and a crowd reaction that allowed only my first name to be heard made me fall into a state of disbelief. I sat there and digested it for what felt like a lifetime. My heart paced quickly as I was now in Romero's shadow, following its stern and powerful lead. I loved the thought. I rose up shaking inside with water in my eyes. I hugged my mother and, success!
4. What do you feel is your biggest responsibility as the Romero Scholarship recipient of 2009?
My biggest responsibility is to not only continue my involvement with the Latino and other communities but to draw others in with me as well. There are a lot of things that we are blinded to when we stay in the framework of society. Involvement with those who suffer opens our eyes to see our society's true color, what we as a nation and elsewhere stand for. Often times it will be ugly, and it is up to us to rise up and aim proactively to bring about change for the betterment of those who suffer. It will be my responsibility to encourage others to embark on this journey heightened by and for the betterment of others.
5. What would you say to students who are thinking of applying next year?
Do not think about apply but simply DO IT! Begin the process early. It is not like filing the common application for undergraduate schools. Dig a little deeper. It is about you and your life, community and dedication. Like many recipients have said in the past it is a true reflection on your life and what you have done to positively impact and uplift others. And writing it on paper and presenting effectively during an interview is not easy. It is a fulfilling and gratifying process, I guarantee it.