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Find Your Path

Jeans Santana ’10

b.a., sociology and pre-med
cancer research training fellow, national cancer institute


Archbishop Oscar A. Romero—a timid, bookish priest who transformed himself into a fearless defender of El Salvador’s poor—is one of the great symbols of solidarity and justice today. And so, it was with a profound sense of responsibility that Jeans Santana accepted the scholarship given at Boston College in Romero’s name.

Santana says the scholarship—awarded each year to a junior who exemplifies devotion to learning and dedication to service—has inspired him to find fresh ways of applying Romero’s ideals to his education at Boston College and his plans for the future.

He chose to attend the University partly because it felt right, given his Catholic background, but he is quick to cite other factors that influenced his decision—“prestige, emphasis on service, great academics, a well-rounded curriculum, and a beautiful campus” among them. He entered with the intention of majoring in biology, but a sociology class in his freshman year “gave me a different angle to look at things,” and he declared that subject his major (along with pre-med).

His participation in AHANA’s Volunteer Corps—which exposed him to dire health and housing conditions in the Dominican Republic and Turkey Creek, Mississippi—gave him a sense of mission and helped clarify his overall goals. His internships at Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute allowed him to work on important questions related to social justice and medicine during summers following his sophomore and junior years. The first internship involved raising awareness of public health issues, particularly cervical cancer. The second put him in the laboratory, where he worked on a breast cancer research study.

Santana plans to spend a year after graduation expanding on his laboratory experience before applying to medical school. His goal is to become an oncologist and to find ways of addressing disparities in cancer care, like the fact that women of color have less access to health-care providers, and as a result are less likely than others to be diagnosed with breast cancer before the disease has become untreatable.

He credits Boston College, a place that honors both personal achievement and social concern, with having “shaped me and steered me onto the path where I want to be.”