1. What motivated you to apply for the Romero Scholarship?
When I first heard of the Archbishop Oscar Romero Scholarship it was freshman year. I learned about how prestigious this award was and I wanted to have an opportunity to earn such an esteemed prize. This man truly sacrificed himself in order for the betterment of his own people. He cared for the poor and the marginalized in his native El Salvador. To earn an award that bears his name is truly an honor and something that motivates me to continue on in my mission of becoming a physician. Archbishop Romero was dedicated to scholarship and justice and demonstrated this through his life and teachings. When thinking about Archbishop Romero, I often find myself just daydreaming about how such a good man died in the hands of his own people. His country was going into shambles and chaos, as he was the head of the church; he had to be the voice of opinion. This chaos was due to a civil war in El Salvador. This man went through “thick and thin” in order to provide change in his country. I hope to do this through medicine and having an award named after him is truly special and inspires me to continue achieving my dreams.
2. What was the most memorable question from the interview and how did you respond?
A memorable question to me was the question of what are some of the problems/injustices that the Latin Community face to this day and what can you do to create change. I answered by incorporating an education reform system in the Latino communities that are in the lower socioeconomic side. The problem is that not many Latino students get allotted the opportunity to receive a higher education. This is partly due to the lack of support and role models that should be established at a young age. When younger students see older peers or older adults pushing them to achieve success this can transcend the community in which they live in. This meaning that when one has gotten the confidence and drive to educate one’s self anything is possible. There is a lack of this in many Latino communities and often schools like Boston College intimidate these students. They often feel downgraded by the intellectual capacity that is needed to do well in a top tier University. This should not be the case! If students associate themselves with positive role models such as teachers, students, parents, etc. then this can better the education for Latino students. With there not being these positive influences it is often hard to create a proper change within these communities because everything builds off on education. Therefore, this is a key injustice within these communities. I myself fall into this mold because I found positive influences in my life such as my mom, teachers, and past athletic coaches. Coming from these communities and now at Boston College it has opened my eyes to try to create some change and positive influence to the best of my ability. As the Romero recipient this only solidifies my role in breaking these barriers.
3. How did you feel when you heard your name called as the award winner?
When I heard my name being called I felt like the happiest man in the world. It was presented on my birthday making it the best birthday present I have ever gotten. I was filled with so much emotion and a sense of accomplishment. Wow, all this hard work to be standing, as the 2012 Archbishop Oscar Romero recipient made me feel blessed. I have gone through many life experiences and it is incredible to see that all the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. It was an incredible moment as I was there with friends and family to share the momentous occasion.
4. What do you feel is your biggest responsibility as the Romero Scholarship recipient of 2012?
My biggest responsibility is to show to people younger than me that anything is possible with the proper drive and work ethic. As a rising senior, I must continue to advocate for the Latino Community. I plan on continuing my volunteer work at hospitals and to work with UGBC in establishing more service programs as an initiative for future classes. As an award winner there are many responsibilities that have to be made out before I graduate and I will do them to the best of my ability. I also plan on speaking to high schools around the area and in my community to tell my story. I want to show that anybody can make it out of a rough life with the proper mentality and drive. As a recipient I must also keep going. This award is giving me even more fuel to continue my dream of becoming a physician.
5. What would you say to students who are thinking of applying next year?
For students who are applying next year I would say to go for it!! It is important that you speak from the heart it is unlike any application you have done before. This application makes you think and it is truly rewarding! Do not just state activities go deeper with them talk about how significant they are to you. As for the interview do not feel intimidated by all of the people it is a great experience. Speak from the heart and be yourself is key! For those who apply believe in yourself and do not let intimidation get to you! Please come to me or any of the other finalists, Jorge Miranda and Jonathan Rodriguez, to discuss more about the process. My email is Soaresr@bc.edu.