1. What motivated you to apply for the Romero Scholarship?
Alberto Juarez Jr. motivated me to apply to the Saint Oscar A. Romero Scholarship. I met Alberto, a finalist of the 2022 Saint Oscar A. Romero Scholarship, a month before his scholarship ceremony at the AHANA Summit, which is a retreat the Thea Bowman AHANA Intercultural Center hosts for undergraduate students to talk about their identities. Through this experience, I got to meet Alberto as a friend and someone who I knew I could be comfortable with, given our shared experiences as Latino students at Boston College. I did not hear about his involvement, dedication, and service to the Latino community until a month later, after the Saint Oscar A. Romero Scholarship ceremony. Hearing his story made Alberto an inspiration for me to become; someone who looks like me and strives to serve the Latino community. His commitment to leaving a positive impact at Boston College inspired me to apply for the same scholarship because I wanted to be able to be recognized for my hard work and be perceived as more than just a friend, but an advocate for others, especially for undocumented Latino immigrants. In applying to this prestigious scholarship, I developed a goal; I wanted the recognition given from this scholarship to highlight my contributions to the Latino community in order to affirm my goal as an aspiring immigration attorney. To be recognized for my hard work was something I strived for, so someone else like me can be inspired the same way I was inspired by Alberto.
2. What was the most memorable question from the interview and how did you respond?
The most memorable question from the interview was: is there something else that you did not tell us that you would like us to know more about? This question gave me the opportunity to share with the scholarship committee the reason why I aspire to become an immigration attorney. Without this question, one would still wonder why I strive to support undocumented Latino immigrants. When I answered this question, I shared with the scholarship committee a personal experience I did not share with anyone at Boston College up until that point, given that I was raised to not talk about such experiences to people who were not in my immediate family. At the same time, I knew that my answer carried so much value. My answer talked about an interaction I had with a family member who wanted me to translate a US Immigration Court document from English to Spanish, so they can receive guidance on their asylum case. When I elaborated on how this experience impacted me, I became emotionally invested and discussed the feelings of uncertainty that come from living in a mixed-status household. I talked about how these experiences push me to support US citizen children who are in my position, and who do not know when the last day with their family members will be. Sharing this experience was therapeutic because I was able to formulate the memories and thoughts into words. At this point, my application carried more weight, because not only did it highlight my current involvement with the Latino community on and off campus, but it also illustrated the experiences that ignited the flame for me to serve undocumented Latino immigrants in the United States.
1. How did you feel when you heard your name called as the award winner?
I felt grateful when I heard my name as the co-recipient of the Saint Oscar A. Romero Scholarship. However, this feeling felt more powerful after Dr. Mariela Páez’s speech to introduce my biography in front of the packed crowd in the Murray Function Room. “To know Jonathan Mora is to know his family,” were the exact words Dr. Páez said that made me emotional while she shared with the entire room my involvement on and off campus. Dr. Páez’s recognition of my family during this scholarship ceremony made the announcement of the scholarship winners more meaningful. Being called the co-recipient of the Saint Oscar A. Romero Scholarship felt like an honor to the hard work and sacrifices of my family. “It was all worth it,” were the words thought about after hearing my name. I felt a sense of relief, and content that I was able to say hello to my mom and dad at the camera that was hosting a Zoom session during my speech.
1. What do you feel is your biggest responsibility as the Romero Scholarship recipient of 2023?
Now on the other side, my biggest responsibility as the co-recipient of the Saint Oscar A. Romero Scholarship is to encourage motivated students to apply to this prestigious scholarship. As a senior at Boston College, I have a couple of weeks to provide this responsibility directly to students on campus. Therefore, I aspire to leave a positive footprint on Boston College’s campus. This includes working closely with the Thea Bowman AHANA Intercultural Center, the Center for Human Rights and International Justice, and the Organization of Latin American Affairs. I want to contribute to the growth of students at Boston College who strive to serve the Latino community. I aspire to see other students who look like me grow and thrive at Boston College.
1. What would you say to students who are thinking of applying next year?
Give it your all and apply! Do not hesitate to believe in yourself, and value the merit you accumulated during your time at Boston College. Talk to your advisors, mentors, and professors who you think can help you formulate the story you want to create for this application. Be intentional and authentic with who you are during this process. While the application stages may be overwhelming to go through, you will have a chance to show who you really are. It is also okay to embrace your authentic self, even if it means talking about experiences that you did not usually share at Boston College. On another note, make sure you are punctual with the deadlines, and update your resume!