AlumKnight Spotlight – February 2023

February 2023 Spotlight: Sofia Cruz

Sofia Cruz (Class of ’21), Brown University, Graduating in 2025

Degree: Double majoring in English & International and Public Affairs on the Policy & Governance Track

Career Goals: I’m not sure what career I want to pursue post-graduation, but I would like to work within the legal field, either as an attorney or in something having to do with diplomacy.

What has been the biggest surprise about the college experience? To me, the biggest surprise has been the drastic cultural difference between Providence and Miami. Everyone hears about the culture shock they will face if they choose to go out of state for college but hearing about it and living it were two completely different things for me, and it kind of caught me off guard. Getting used to different styles of dressing, saying hi to each other, or even speaking took a while to get used to and made me feel like a fish out of water at first. It was also difficult to relate to some of my friends from JMMA that stayed in-state because they couldn’t grasp some of the struggles I dealt with on a daily basis. That being said, I love the multicultural environment I am surrounded by daily and I feel like I am gaining more of a cultural awareness by interacting with students from all areas of the world with the same motivation to learn as I do.

Most challenging coursework in college: The most challenging aspect of my coursework in college has been adapting to the volume of reading in each course. Since I am an English concentrator, I have read up to 16 books a semester, in addition to other forms of literature and written assignments, which can be overwhelming if you do not schedule accordingly in advance. It has been so rewarding to get through the semester and have learned about so many texts, but I did have to adjust the way I study to be able to accommodate the workload.

Accomplishment most proud of: Since going to Brown, I became an English Editor for on-campus magazine SOMOS, which is the only Latinx literary magazine on campus run by Latinx students. In the spring of my freshman year, I co-founded the Cuban Brunonians Association (CUBA), the first club at Brown for Cuban students and dedicated to the appreciation of Cuban culture. Through this club I have led discussions on Cuban history, literature, and culture, have organized meetings with Cuban guest speakers within the Providence community, and have hosted activities such as cooking nights and a Nochebuena party to help spread the Cuban culture at Brown. This past fall I began working with the Brown Center for Students of Color as the Latinx Heritage Series Coordinator, where I had the opportunity to plan events for the Latinx community on campus and become more connected with a lot of cultural groups and clubs. In the summer of 2022, I got the opportunity to work in the Miami-Dade County Mayor’s Office under Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, where I attended all her press conferences and worked on the then-newly initiated “Housing Hotline” that aimed to provide resources for residents affected by the ongoing housing crises in the county. Since my freshman year, I have begun taking Italian language courses, which I am very proud of because I am now practically fluent in Italian and can consider myself trilingual! My study of the Italian language has led me to study abroad in Bologna, Italy this spring semester (2023) as part of a total immersion program where all the classes I am taking at the University of Bologna, the oldest university in the world, are taught completely in Italian. Outside of class time while I am studying abroad, I have begun giving private English tutoring lessons to local Italians to help them learn a new language as well!

Can you provide any advice to our current Knights? Take advantage of resources such as Scoir or other college research programs throughout high school! There are so many factors to consider when choosing what college/university to attend for four years and it can definitely be daunting to compare them all in your senior year. Be familiar with the programs offered by each institution you apply to and do not be too stressed over what classes or activities you participate in during high school because there is no guarantee they will all carry over post-gradutation. Apply yourself but do the things you are passionate about and that teach you things you want to learn more about, both in and out of the classroom!

I paid for college with…: The majority of my financial aid comes from a need-based grant directly from Brown University. In addition to that, I have been a recipient of the Frederick A. DeLuca Scholarship presented by the National Italian-American Foundation for $5,000 two years in a row. I also received a $3,200 scholarship from the National Honor Society, a $2,000 scholarship from the Burger King Foundation, and over $2,000 from the CAP Grant in the past two years.

Fondest memory from high school: Even though it’s been a few years since I’ve graduated from JMMA, I am still the school’s biggest cheerleader. I constantly recall stories of random lunchtime or in-class shenanigans with classmates that became family over the course of seven years, and I still keep in mind all the life lessons imparted on me by my teachers. Mrs. Ruiz’s “spidey senses” are tingling every time I read a poem for a class and I still look forward to chisme sessions with Mr. Milian and Mr. Franco whenever I see them. JMMA was my second home for all the years I attended and everyone I met there remains a part of my Hialeah family (some quite literally). 😉