Hail to the Scholars
Julio Lanzo, a 12-year-old at Sarah Greenwood School in Boston, was among a new class of Red Sox Scholars inducted during a ceremony before Sunday's game at Fenway Park.
"I wrote an inspiring story about the challenges of being poor," he said, explaining how he had come to be among the 10 new Boston Public School seventh-graders chosen for the program, for which Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center serves as presenting sponsor.
Lanzo, who lives in Mattapan, is hoping to become an engineer and wants to be able to use engineering as a way to help the disabled. His older brother has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.
Nearly 200 Red Sox scholars representing classes dating back to 2003 attended the on-field ceremony Sunday. Each year, the program chooses new academically talented and economically disadvantaged students based on their essays and an interview process. On graduation from high school, the scholars are awarded a $10,000 college scholarship from the Red Sox Foundation. During their first year in the program, they are matched with BIDMC staff members who serve as "Medical Champions," helping to expose the kids to careers in health care, among other things.
Kim Cameron, RN, an intensive care nurse, will serve at Lanzo's Medical Champion. "I wanted to become involved to help out someone less fortunate," she said. "I want to give them an experience they'll remember."
Lanzo, who had never before been to Fenway, said he was looking forward to the program and to the game - all the scholars were given tickets.
"Big Papi is my favorite," he said, referring to Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. "He's a Latin player who has done a lot to help a lot of people," he said.
Victor Murphy, 18, of Dorchester, is a member of the 2004 class of Red Sox Scholars. He just graduated from Fenway High School and is going to attend Union College in the fall. He said he intends to pursue a business degree. "The program has been enormously helpful to me," he said. "I come to this event every year."
In past years, new scholars were chosen as fifth graders. The program was changed this year so that the new inductees are seventh graders. Katy Meade of the Red Sox Foundation said it was determined that seventh grade would be a better age for students to start since that is more likely when they might be thinking of future careers. Among the events they will participate in are tours of the hospital.
New inductee Hao Pham, 14, of Dorchester and a seventh grader at Boston Latin School, said she wants to become a radiologist. "I'm interested in the medical field," she said.
Katie Wilson, Physical Therapist, Rehabilitation Services - West, and Pham's "Medical Champion," said she is excited about the prospect of spending time with her student.
"She seems very motivated," she said.
Nancy Aleid, 13, of Roslindale and a student at John D. O'Bryant School of Math and Science, was also among the new inductees. She is a native of Syria and an honor roll student.
"I want to become a doctor," she said.
Her medical Champion, Romelyn Obligacion, RN, an intensive care nurse, said "I wanted to mentor someone who wants to go into the medical field. We're already talking about some of the things we are going to do. I'm going to take her into the ICU."
During the ceremony, the new inductees were escorted on to the field by their champions and by Red Sox players. Among the players doing the honors were Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Clay Buchholz, Adrian Gonzalez, Bobby Jenks and Tim Wakefield.
Aleid was escorted by Wakefield. "It was so exciting," she said. "I was really nervous but he just told me, 'Don't worry, don't be nervous.'"
She said she didn't have a favorite player before Sunday. Now, she does. "It has to be Tim Wakefield," she said.
Red Sox Principal owner John Henry greeted the scholars and later said, of the program, "It has become a real institution. Not only at Fenway but in Boston. It's gratifying to see the graduates come out as well. I think a day like today is just a big thrill for a lot of these kids. It's been a great partnership with BIDMC and everyone involved."
Carol Johnson, superintendent of the Boston Public Schools, said the kids and their families - who also attended the event - are brimming with pride.
"For many, these kids are the first in the family to go to college," she said. "The families are so excited, so grateful and so proud. And so many of these kids have never been to Fenway Park before. This is a pretty powerful event."