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Rui Receives Romero Award

Junior Pre-Medicine Student Receives Prestigious Scholarship

Heights Senior Staff

Published: Sunday, April 1, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

Rui Soares, A&S ’13, received the Archbishop Oscar A. Romero scholarship on Saturday evening in the Yawkey Athletics Center for his outstanding efforts in leadership and academia, as well as his contributions to the Latino community. The scholarship, which is awarded to the student who best follows the example set by Romero, celebrated a landmark 20th birthday, and the ceremony honored the legacy of both the students who created it and its namesake.

Marina McCoy, a member of the scholarship committee, introduced Soares as a lasting example of Romero’s preaching. “Rui embodies the ideal of what Archbishop Romero once preached: ‘Aspire not to have more but to be more,’” McCoy said. Soares, a pre-med student, tutored in the 4Boston program and currently serves as the program director and resident assistant for the Multicultural Leadership Experience. He plans to apply for medical school and fulfill his dream of becoming a physician. “I want to especially help the Latino community because this is where I come from and want to help through medicine,” Soares wrote in his application. Receiving the award coincided with Soares’ 21st birthday, and he took the time to thank his parents for giving him life and support. “Being a first-generation American and college student is hard work, but not once do I forget where I come from,” Soares said.

Soares sat alongside fellow finalists Jorge Miranda, A&S ’13, and Jonathan Rodriguez, A&S ’13, during the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the scholarship. “The scholarship has always been a source of inspiration of carrying Romero’s hope and vision for a just society,” said Nora Frias, master of ceremony for the event and BC ’07. “The finalists throughout the years have taken his ideals and values and made them their life’s purpose.”

The scholarship formed in 1992 as an initiative by the Organization of Latin American Affairs (OLAA) to promote and support the Latino community at Boston College. The scholarship developed through the work of undergraduates, along with the advocacy of Rev. John A. Dinneen, S.J., and grew from a $1,000 scholarship to a prize worth $25,000. Marcela Norton, a co-chair of the Romero Committee, paid tribute to the founders of the scholarship, several of whom attended the ceremony. “Without your initiative and passion, we would not be here tonight,” Norton said.

During the ceremony, the Romero Committee also honored the work of Vanessa Rodriguez, BC ’95, by awarding her the Rev. John A. Dinneen, S.J., Hispanic Alumni Community Service Award. Rodriguez dedicated her life to bettering public education for marginalized students, including those of Hispanic descent, after a stint teaching in Spanish-speaking classrooms. She addressed her hope for educational equality across marginalized communities. “Thank you for letting me be an advocate for people who don’t have a voice,” Rodriguez said. “Equity is more than equal opportunity. It’s the path to equal successes.”

Guest speaker June Carolyn Erlick, the editor-in-chief of Harvard’s Latin American academic journal ReVista, spoke of her personal experiences with Romero. “He was an extraordinary man, but he was also an ordinary man,” Erlick said. “He was us.” She recounted her attendance at Romero’s funeral following his assassination and described her surprise when a man handed her a photo Romero kept of Erlick and him. “It was clear to me,” she said. “Our obligation is to carry on and stop the repression just as he tried to do.”

University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., echoed Erlick’s sentiment and urged those in attendance to rededicate themselves to what Romero and the hundreds of others like him strive to do. “There are things we can do, so we need to dedicate ourselves to those values,” Leahy said.

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