José Gálvez-Contreras '11
Making a Difference Through Service
“I remember seeing a little girl by the side of the road one day who was selling oranges,” José Gálvez-Contreras recollects. “I had twenty Honduran lempiras at the time, which is equivalent to about one U.S dollar. At first, I was going to offer all my money for her ten oranges, but then I realized how old she was. I asked her why she wasn’t in school and she told me that she had to help her mother make money. Then I gave her my money. When she went to hand me the oranges, I told her to keep them on one condition: that she promise me she would do her best to get to school as soon as possible.”
With stories like these, it is no wonder José—a freshman majoring in business and environmental management with two minors in recreation and economics—is a Make-A-Difference Scholar. During his high school career, José spent over 200 volunteer hours doing everything from collecting toys and clothes for the local poverty-stricken community, to assisting in retirement homes, to helping out CRILA, a non-profit organization based in his hometown La Ceiba that helps emotionally or physically handicapped people. Even so, José says it’s not enough.
“There are a lot of people out there who have done greater things than me and still haven’t received any recognition,” he says. “Though I feel fortunate to have received the reward, I just don’t feel like I’ve done that much.”
José’s goals on campus and beyond reflect this passion for service. As a freshman, he is already involved in many community service projects. He’s working with sophomore Laura Maki on creating a recreation center in Poultney for high school and college students. Along with junior Francis Demby, he’s organizing a book drive for Honduran schools, where they need English books for a new mandatory English language system. He also hopes to travel to Burma during his junior year to work with refugees.
Though José doesn’t know exactly where “destiny” will take him, he would like to go to grad school and then return to Honduras and open up an eco-friendly business to make people conscious of environmental issues in the country. Furthermore, he would like to get involved in politics like his mother, a person he deeply admires.
“My mother had to drop out of school and sell bread in the streets to get by,” Jose says. “She didn’t graduate the sixth grade until she was 15. Now she’s been a teacher for 20 years and a congresswoman for 19. Currently, she’s a lawyer. Who knows? If I get involved in politics, I may become president.”