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Saying Yes to Everything

As an immigrant, CAS student has kept promise to be involved

Bruna Pino felt that she had a lot to make up for when she began college at age 20. Born in Bolivia, but raised largely in Spain, Pino moved to the United States with her family when she was 13. She recalls it as a difficult time.

“I didn’t know how to speak the language and I felt sort of foreign,” says Pino (CAS’17). “I didn’t think I had anything to contribute. I wasn’t very involved in high school.”

When her father decided to apply for a green card so the family could live permanently in the United States, the application required a return to Spain, where she would spend three gap years while they waited for approval.

Her family had lived for a time in Belmont, and Pino wanted to go to college in Boston because she felt at home here. Once she arrived at BU, she promised herself that she would “be as involved as possible. Once I finally started my university career, I told myself I would do everything and anything. I would say yes to everything.” It’s a promise she’s kept.

She took a rowing class, discovered that she loved it, and tried for a spot on the women’s rowing team. Undeterred when she learned she was too small to be rower, she jumped at the chance to become a coxswain. She also joined the a cappella group Aural Fixation, then became involved with Timmy Global Health at Boston University, a student club that raises money to support a clinic in the Dominican Republic, where BU students volunteer for a week of service each year. She spent a year studying abroad in France and became a member of the College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Hosts, welcoming new and prospective students to open houses.

But it was her involvement in the Community Service Center—in particular through the First-Year Student Outreach Project, a weeklong program that brings first-years and transfers to campus early to volunteer in the Boston area—that brought the most joy and satisfaction. When Pino and her family moved from Bolivia to Spain, they encountered discrimination. “My skin was darker than their skin,” she says, “and even though we shared the same language, Spanish, we had different ways of saying things.” That exposure to racism fueled a passion for social justice.

“I realized that no one should go through that, and no one should feel like they’re isolated because of their religion or their skin color or their race or the way they speak,” she says. “I found my niche at the Community Service Center because that’s what we basically do: we focus on social justice. They’re some of the most inspiring, exceptional human beings I’ve ever met. They’re amazing people and we’re constantly reflecting on our lives, on our experience at BU, at what we’ve faced, what other people face.”

Pino, a neuroscience major who plans to become a doctor, says her parents are her inspiration. Trained as doctors in their native Bolivia, they’ve had to reinvent themselves as they moved to Spain and then to the United States, at various times owning a laundromat and a bubble tea shop and working at different jobs, among them secretary, ultrasound technician, and taxi driver. “They’re constantly encouraging me and my brother and sister to keep dreaming and do different things, as many thing as we can,” she says.

“I will definitely be crying at graduation, so many tears, because I’m proud that I made it. I’m proud that I can say I’m a college graduate,” she says. “There will be a lot of emotion, a lot of feelings.”

What she’s most proud of, Pino says, is “the ability to have faith in myself. To know that I can do it, whatever I put myself to. To not doubt myself.”

Jason Kimball can be reached at jk16@bu.edu.

2 Comments

2 Comments on Saying Yes to Everything

  • Laurie on 05.22.2017 at 10:11 am

    Congratulations! What a beautiful story. I am sure you will go on to do great things in the future.

  • Lauren Candia on 05.23.2017 at 10:04 pm

    Bruna, thank you for making me so proud. I love you so much and I only wish that you keep accomplishing all your goals in life. Bravo!!

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