Canuto-Depina Awarded 2024 MLK Jr. Scholarship

People bowed their heads and fell silent as Julie Canuto-Depina, this year’s recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. scholarship, asked attendees at the scholarship ceremony to join her in prayer.

“I give thanks for all those who stand here before me in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King and his values,” Canuto-Depina said. “I also want to pray for the other finalists, who you have helped shape and bring to this moment, and I pray that—in all of our hearts here in this room—that we continue to fight for social justice and racial justice.”

Canuto-Depina, CSON ’25, was announced as the winner of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Committee’s 42nd annual scholarship in a ceremony on Monday night.

Canuto-Depina will receive up to $35,000 toward her senior year tuition and a $1,000 credit to the Boston College Bookstore.

The scholarship is awarded to a BC junior who demonstrates academic excellence, community service, leadership in extracurricular activities, and involvement in the African American community, according to the committee’s website.

Canuto-Depina said she is studying nursing with the hope of one day working to improve health outcomes for patients—especially patients from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“By addressing social determinants of health, we can help narrow health care gaps and ultimately leverage delivery of health care and health outcomes for all patients,” Canuto-Depina said.

Apart from Canuto-Depina, four other finalists—Esther Udoakang, CSON ’25, as well as Tracy Aggrey-Ansong, Joy Babalola, and Temidayo Lukan, all MCAS ’25—were chosen from an initial pool of 28 applicants. Each will receive a $3,000 tuition scholarship and a $1,000 credit to the Bookstore.

Canuto-Depina was presented with the scholarship by University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., who praised the five finalists for their commitment to social justice and their contributions to the BC community.

“They aspire to change,” Leahy said. “They have invested themselves in helping make not only Boston College but our world better.”

Christie Louis, MCAS ’24 and last year’s recipient of the scholarship, said she saw firsthand how Canuto-Depina embodied both King’s example and Jesuit values as a leader on the Jamaica Magis service immersion trip.

“Both leading up to the trip and in Jamaica, you embodied what it meant to be a servant leader,” Louis said of Canuto-Depina. “You led selflessly and left a mark of love in the students’ hearts that calls for them to be a man or a woman for others.”

Aside from her involvement in the Connell School of Nursing and Jamaica Magis, Canuto-Depina is also on the executive board of the Cape Verdean Student Association of BC, an intern at the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center, and a student ambassador for the Montserrat Office.

“During my time at Boston College, I have come to understand that I am not only a nursing student, but I possess the capacity to be a change agent for progressive social awareness and have grown a strong desire to advocate for my patients and my peers within my school community,” Canuto-Depina said.

Philip McHarris, BC ’14 and the 2013 recipient of the scholarship, delivered a keynote address reflecting on how King not only advocated against racism, but also decried poverty and militarism.

“His call to eradicate racism, poverty, and militarism in all forms resonates with the urgency of our current times, reminding us that the journey towards justice and equality is ongoing,” McHarris said.

Canuto-Depina encouraged attendees to be selfless, stressing that even seemingly small actions can have significant impacts on other people.

“One piece of advice that I would share with you all is always ask yourself, ‘What is it that you can be doing for others?’” Canuto-Depina said. “It doesn’t have to be for 1000 people—it can be for just one person, your wife, your kids, your cousins, your classmates, professors, whoever that be.”

February 20, 2024