Dear Alumni and Friends of UMass Boston,
What does a steaming dish of Spanish paella, with its pungent aroma of shrimp and chorizo, have to do with who I am today?
As a boy and young man, I was never a good student. My parents became accustomed to my Cs,Ds, and Fs, but wanted much more for me. They never had a chance at a good education, and thought I was squandering mine.
When my graduation from high school was "iffy," my mom presented my teacher with a big dish of paella. I think it was that gift and not my grades that put me over the finish line!
But as life went on, I continued to see myself as an academic failure.
Then I traveled to Mexico to live with an uncle and learn Spanish. The poverty and lack of opportunity overwhelmed me. I vowed to God that I would no longer waste my life.
When I returned, I set my sight on UMass Boston, prepared myself academically for college work, and told the director of admissions, that "if you give me the opportunity to come, I promise I won't let you down."
I didn't. I thrived in my courses: philosophy, sociology, anthropology, and many others. The letter A was my new norm.
I also had the amazing opportunity to join a small group of fellow students to participate in a Latino Leadership Institute at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
It was powerful experience and we returned to UMass Boston to start our own program to cultivate Latino achievement. A scholarship funded by alumni and friends like you allowed me the freedom to focus on my studies.
Next year I will attend Harvard Divinity School on a full tuition Dean's Scholarship. I hope to become a college professor in theology and philosophy and a church leader. In these roles I will help others to rise to their potential, just like UMass Boston helped me to realize my promise.
I am just one of many, many students whose lives are transformed by a UMass Boston education everyday.
So during May is Give to UMass Boston Month
, I invite you make a gift
, of any size, to show your support and advance the human opportunities this great public university makes possible.
Jahdiel Perez '14