Rolando Muniz always understood the value of and the need for diversity and inclusion. At St. John's Jesuit High School and Academy in Toledo, Rolando was part of the school’s 20/20 Program, which helps underrepresented students by providing financial aid and scholarship opportunities. The program also pays for students' ACT and SAT and college application fees – or any other needed test or document – and provides additional support such as jobs outside of school and volunteering opportunities.
Seeing how much difference the 20/20 Program was making in the lives of its participants, Rolando and his grandmother created the Sister Brenda Scholarship to help academically gifted young, underrepresented men with financial need attend St. John’s Jesuit.
“Belonging to the 20/20 Program at my high school was one of the main reasons I decided to start a scholarship in the name of diversity and inclusion; I wanted other young men to be able to experience a great education and to grow as men the correct way.”
What started out as a small scholarship that only Rolando’s family contributed to soon caught wind and expanded to become something so much greater than Rolando could have ever imagined. Along with his fellow class of 2016, Rolando raised $25,000 for the Sister Brenda Scholarship. With the additional funds, the scholarship now offers assistant to several boys over all four years of their academic career at St. John’s Jesuit. Rolando hopes that one day, funds will provide a full ride to all who receive the Sister Brenda Scholarship.
As funds for the Sister Brenda Scholarship came in, Rolando’s college applications were being sent out. He knew that he wanted to continue his education in a school that was a “vanguard for the advancement of diversity and inclusion” and that The Ohio State University would fit the bill.
Roland applied to Ohio State and was accepted and awarded a Morrill Scholarship, becoming an Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Morrill Scholar. The Morrill Scholarship, awarded to students who show commitment to both academics and diversity by excelling in the classroom and making a positive impact in their communities, was key to Rolando becoming a Buckeye. “The scholarship meant I would be able to afford to go to such an amazing school - both academically and socially. Second, it meant I would be a part of a university that supports the ideas and actions that mean so much to me.”
“As a representative of the Morrill Scholarship, I feel as if it is my duty to always represent the notions of what the program stands for.”
As a Hispanic attending a university dedicated to diversity and involved with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Rolando started to settle in at Ohio State and fully immerse himself in its community. However, he noticed that there were not a lot of other Latinos on campus.
“Initially, this realization worried me, but then it made me realize better what I am attempting to do both with my scholarship and with my life. I realize that my scholarship will give young Hispanic men the opportunity to go to a great high school with resources that allow them the opportunity to go to Tier 1 universities such as Ohio State.”
A freshman at Ohio State, Rolando is majoring in English and is determined to graduate on time, in 2020. He jokes that he chose English in part because math wasn’t an option: “I absolutely am terrible at math, and I have always found English and Language Arts to be my favorite subject.” He loves to read and enjoys analyzing the deeper meaning behind what an author writes: his/her diction, syntax, narrative, all play a role in conveying the author’s ideas. At some point in his life, Rolando hopes to become a writer and to have his works taught in an AP English class one day. “If I had one wish in my life, it would be to captivate a curious soul such as James Salter, Ralph Ellison, and Shakespeare captivated me.”
Even though his major is in English, Rolando intends to apply to medical school immediately following his graduation from The Ohio State University. “My ultimate goal is to become a surgeon. I know the sky is the limit for what I can do, and I will reach for the farthest star.”