As a night of dancing and celebrating came to a close, audience members suddenly erupted into gasps as they learned this year’s Saint Oscar A. Romero Scholarship Award would go to not one but two recipients.
“You heard that the selection this year was quite difficult, and in fact we have a tie,” Rev. Gregory A. Kalscheur, S.J., announced to shocked faces and murmurs. “We have two recipients this evening—Kevin Lopez and Jonathan Mora.”
The Saint Oscar A. Romero Scholarship Award recognizes a Boston College junior who has demonstrated an outstanding record of involvement in and service to the Hispanic/Latino community at both BC and beyond. The 31st Annual Saint Oscar A. Romero Scholarship Award Ceremony took place in the Murray Function Room Saturday night.
Lopez, MCAS ’24, and Mora, LSEHD ’24—who won the award—were finalists alongside Sebastian Cota, MCAS ’24. All three will receive $1,000 from the BC Bookstore, and Lopez and Mora will both receive roughly 75 percent of their senior year tuition.
“A great accomplishment—hard work and dedication—[this award] really demonstrates the commitment of service and values of Saint Oscar Romero,” said Marcela V. Norton, co-chair of the scholarship committee.
Juan Alexander Concepcion—former assistant director of BC affinity programs and BC ’96, M.Ed ’97, and J.D./MBA ’03—delivered the keynote address, emphasizing the importance of serving others.
“Tonight, we celebrate community,” Concepcion said. “We honor excellence, leadership, and our commitment to one another in community service. As the late Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. once reminded us: ‘He who is greatest among you shall be a servant.’”
Concepcion, who is also a 2022-23 Boston College Trustee Associate, received this year’s Rev. John A. Dinneen S.J. Hispanic Alumni Community Service Award, which honors a BC alum whose service best reflects both Romero’s ideals and Dinneen’s commitment to the Latino community.
Following Concepcion’s keynote, Karl Bell, associate director of TRIO Student Support Services; Danielle Date, associate director of field placement and outreach in LSEHD; and Mariela Páez, an associate professor in LSEHD, introduced Cota, Lopez, and Mora, respectively.
During his acceptance speech, Lopez spoke on his plans to continue serving his community.
“There’s still a lot to do,” he said. “There’s still a lot of people out here living in pain, suffering, cold, lonely—and we should change that, right?”
As a first-generation student at a predominantly white institution, Lopez began working in the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center to help mentor students in a similar position, according to Date.
“He took pride in providing resources, guidance, emotional support, and built invaluable friendships with many incoming students,” Date said. “Kevin also often likes to say ‘share the love’ is his way of life.”
While accepting the award, Mora also thanked his family, attributing his work ethic to his parents as well as his freedom as an American citizen.
“A lot of people in not only my family but around my community—they did not have the same resources,” he said. “They didn’t have that gift that I have, and I’ve been able to cherish it because with that I’m able to have this access that opened a lot of doors.”
According to Paez, Mora’s appreciation of his rights and resources as a U.S. citizen further strengthened his commitment to serving undocumented Latino immigrants, which he plans on continuing as an immigration attorney.
“To know Jonathan is to know his family and his community,” Paez said. “He will definitely make an impact in this world.”
Update (4/12/23, 6:35 p.m.): This article has been updated to include that Concepcion holds an M.Ed and a J.D./MBA in addition to his undergraduate degree from BC, and that he is also a 2022-23 Boston College Trustee Associate.