Julio Devora says that his favorite quotation is: “The best way to find myself is to lose myself in service to others.”
It is how the 19-year-old sophomore chooses to live his life.
For example, he says, he recently participated in missionary work in Ojinaga, Mexico. It is a town where families live in houses made of cardboard, and where there are no paved roads nor running water. Devora and a group of others, including two priests, traveled to this community during Holy Week to help the residents. And in return, he says: “They cooked for us, offering us a few crusts of bread or a few beans. But it was the best they could gather for us, and they served it with their whole hearts,” he says. “It taught me so much about being grateful.”
Later, Devora visited Juarez, Mexico, where he worked with a group of eight to help build a house for the homeless. They set up plywood walls, insulation, and electricity. Families in that community, he says, live on $5 a day. “I realized how much I have, and how little material possessions matter as long as you have food, clothing, and shelter.”
Then last summer, Devora volunteered at Camp Kesem, a camp for children ages 6 to 13 whose parents have cancer. Devora traveled with the children to the shores of a Rhode Island lake, where he organized games and staffed activities for the kids, and also gave them a chance to express their sad feelings.
Devora, who dreams about becoming a pediatrician, receives the Lissa A. Martinez and Brian G.R. Hughes Scholarship. “I’m eternally grateful,” he says. “I wouldn’t be at MIT without this assistance. It’s an amazing opportunity. I hope to show my deep gratitude to this couple by someday being able to give back to someone else.
“These donors have made a big difference in my life. They have made it possible for me to be at one of the top colleges in the world. I want to become a doctor and to volunteer my services somewhere in Africa, where people really need it. The only way I’ll feel that I’m doing something positive is if I serve others with my life.”
Devora, whose parents own a chicken restaurant in El Paso, Texas, work around the clock. “My parents are absolutely selfless. They would skip a meal, so I can eat. They haven’t gone on a vacation in I don’t know how long. I’ve never heard them complain once.
“The scholarship gave my parents a lot of freedom — freedom from worry and debt. I owe so much of my future to these donors.”