Melanie Paredes (Photos by Lee Pellegrini)

Meet Melanie Paredes '25

The 2024 Romero Scholarship winner is passionate about the need for equal education and affordable housing access in the Latino community

Melanie Paredes ’25, whose long record of service to others in need extends to Boston College’s Pine Manor Institute for Student Success, has been awarded the 2024 Saint Oscar A. Romero Scholarship.

Paredes, a native of Bronx, NY, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communication, and a minor in general business, was presented with the award by University President William P. Leahy, S.J., at the annual Saint Oscar A. Romero Scholarship Banquet on March 23 in the Yawkey Athletic Center Murray Room.  

32nd annual Saint Oscar A. Romero Scholarship award ceremony and dinner.
This year's winner was Melanie Paredes '25 (MCAS), and the recipient of the Rev. John A. Dinneen Hispanic Alumni Community Service award was Migdalia Nalls, MCAS '01, Law '04.

Romero Scholarship winner Melanie Parades at the presentation event with her mother, Ana.

She will receive approximately 75 percent of her senior year tuition in acknowledgement of her superior academic achievement, extracurricular leadership, community service, and involvement with the Hispanic/Latinx community and issues both on and off campus.

Paredes and the other finalists, juniors Karol Bedoya and Jacob Bojito, were selected from a record-setting 23 applicants for the scholarship.

Information Technology Services Human Resources Assistant Director Marcela V. Norton, co-chair of the Romero Scholarship committee, characterized Paredes as “an outstanding individual whose hard work, passion and dedication demonstrates the commitment of service and values of Saint Oscar Romero.”

“I’m deeply honored and profoundly humbled to stand before you tonight as the recipient of the prestigious Oscar Romero Scholarship,” said Paredes, who was introduced by Rebecca Mitchell, associate director for curriculum and assessment at the Pine Manor Institute. Paredes works at PMI as a success coach, building relationships with and supporting high school students and peers in academic and personal development through the institute’s programming.

“This moment is not just a personal triumph but a testament to the collective efforts of all of those who have supported me throughout my journey,” she said, citing her mother Ana for “her dedication and sacrifices, and for paving the way for me to access education. Her resilience, perseverance, and selflessness have been a cornerstone in my life. I’m eternally grateful, but I also understand that I’ll never have enough to repay her.”

As a youth, Paredes took an interest in real estate law after witnessing the mistreatment of Latinos in the shelter and public housing system. A forceful advocate for her South Bronx community, she developed a passion for interpreting real estate contracts and documentation for her mother and other Latino families who needed help navigating the New York City housing system.

As the founder of College Ambassadors, Paredes played a crucial role in aiding low-income, first-generation high school students in navigating the complex college application process. She was awarded a Frontier Fellowship Grant designed to uplift the Latinx community, empowering her to delve into Latin American perspectives on textured hair and Black features, a topic closely tied to her identity as a Dominican American student; she plays an active role in BC’s Dominican Association.

She was also a grant recipient from Start: Empowerment, an organization that conducts investigations into the impact of homelessness on the educational achievement of children raised by single mothers. Her initiatives included spearheading a food drive to alleviate the financial burdens faced by single mothers experiencing homelessness.

32nd annual Saint Oscar A. Romero Scholarship award ceremony and dinner.
This year's winner was Melanie Paredes '25 (MCAS), and the recipient of the Rev. John A. Dinneen Hispanic Alumni Community Service award was Migdalia Nalls, MCAS '01, Law '04.

Rev. John Dinneen Service Award winner Migdalia Iris Nalls ’01, J.D. ’04 congratulated the Romero Scholarship finalists and thanked them “for being role models for my children.”

Paredes, who is on the pre-law track, spoke about the fight for equal education and affordable housing access in the Latino community, calling it “a battle that transcends generations, a struggle that echoes the voices of those who came before us, and of those who follow. We must stand in solidarity and continue to fight for the rights of the marginalized and voiceless among us.

“The journey may be long, but it is a journey worth undertaking, and one that I’m grateful to have started.”

Migdalia Iris Nalls ’01, J.D. ’04 also was honored Saturday night with the Rev. John A. Dinneen, S.J., Hispanic Alumni Community Service Award, which recognizes a BC alumnus of Latin American descent whose work and service reflects both Archbishop Romero’s ideals, and the late Fr. Dinneen’s commitment, leadership, and service to the Latino community.

“Thanks for being role models for my children,” said Nalls, addressing the Romero Scholarship finalists.  “Your stories resonate with me. Please keep your passion for your community.”

Raised in Roxbury and Dorchester, Nalls was the first in her family to graduate from college. She is currently the chief of the Juvenile Unit in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, where she supervises delinquency/criminal, youthful offender, and Superior Court cases involving 12-to-18-year-olds. She was previously a trial attorney for Suffolk County’s Youth Advocacy Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services, defending young people charged with delinquent and criminal charges. She has also served as an attorney for the South Coastal Counties Legal Services Inc., representing low-income victims of domestic violence with family law cases and child custody and abuse cases.

Among her honors, Nalls has been the recipient of the Brian J. Honan Award for Community Service and Courtroom Excellence in the Suffolk County D.A.’s Office; the District Attorney’s Role Model Award; and the MassHousing Agent of Change Award for her commitment to youth. She is an active board member and former president of the Massachusetts Association of Hispanic Attorneys and an executive board member of the Mass Mentorship Partnership organization. In 2017, she founded and now co-chairs the annual Juvenile Justice Youth Symposium to engage and educate young people about the juvenile justice system.