An International Studies major, Jennifer Castillo has distinguished herself in numerous leadership positions at Boston College. Coming to the United States from the Dominican Republic with her family, she grew up in Lawrence, Massachusetts, surrounded by, as she describes it, “continuous gang violence, a flawed school system, poverty, teenage pregnancy, and high levels of sexually transmitted disease.” These problems catalyzed a spiritual and social awakening that has led to her active leadership in service to the Hispanic community both in high school and in her time at Boston College. After graduation, Jennifer plans to attend law school and eventually to establish an organization to support battered immigrant women.
1. What motivated you to apply for the Romero Scholarship?
While taking the course Religion and Politics in Latin America I had the opportunity to delve deeper into the life of Archbishop Romero. I thought of him as a mythical figure, someone that I could not relate to. However, I soon discovered that he did not always vehemently denounce the injustices that plagued the people of El Salvador, but that he grew into this role. I was awed by his transformation, and inspired to apply for a scholarship that celebrated this very virtue
2. What was the most memorable question from the interview and how did you respond?
The most memorable question from the interview was whether or not I believed one person could make a difference. I responded by saying that I believed one person could serve as a catalyst for change and propel others in society to repair injustices. If one person has the courage to confront the status quo, their actions inspire and encourage other to do the same. Also, when one person confronts unjust norms they are sending the message that wrongs in one’s community can not be tolerated.
3. How did you feel when you heard your name called as the award winner?
When I heard my name called out I was in complete disbelief. I was not prepared for the flood of emotions and thoughts that rushed my body. My first instinct was to embrace my mother and sister. I am still in shock from hearing my name called out!
4. What do you feel is your biggest responsibility as the Romero Scholarship recipient of 2007?
My biggest responsibility as the Romero Scholarship recipient of 2008 is to encourage young adults not to be complacent with the sate of their communities. There are many changes to be made, and marginalized groups are still in dire need for advocacy. Young adults as the driving force of society can not remain immobile in such circumstances.
5. What would you say to students who are thinking of applying next year?
Applying for the Romero Scholarship is a rewarding experience. The application process forces you to think about your future goals and how you can be an asset to the Latino community.