Merrifield Scholar’s Second Chance

When Jesse Jovel ’12 was a sophmore in high school, he struggled with excessive absences and poor behavior. As a result, he transferred to Verbum Dei High School, where a mentor introduced him to LMU. After attending a LMU Latino Overnight, where undergraduate prospective students experience the university for two days, Jovel decided on attending LMU.

“I felt wanted at LMU,” said Jovel, a history major and the 2012 recipient of the Merrifield Scholarship from the Latino Alumni Association. “They knew my name and they knew my story. My interactions at the Latino Overnight showed me what being an LMU Lion was all about. I knew I would be able to succeed at LMU.”

Jovel’s academic career took a turn for the better when he arrived at the university. He became active in sports, student government and was president of the Latino Dance Club. He joined the Magis service organization and was a founding member of the Latino Student Union. Jovel credits his increased confidence to the support he received from LMU faculty and staff, and his faith in God.

“I’m thankful and blessed to have been at LMU,” Jovel said. “I know it has been a collaborative effort from a lot of people and I appreciate everything they have done for me. I have a deeper sense of gratitude for the opportunities that God places in front of me.”

In 2010, Jovel was selected along with five other LMU students to participate in the Latino Leadership Initiative at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy’s School of Government. He was the only junior and the only male student accepted from LMU. Each of the participants received $1,000 for a community project. Jovel used the money to organize a Big Brother program between students at Verbum Dei High
School and members of Magis.

Jovel plans to enroll in the Partners in Los Angeles Catholic Education Corps at LMU, a master’s degree and credential program where participants serve as teachers in under-resourced Catholic schools of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. He hopes to eventually become a full-time teacher.

“I’ve learned that you can’t go wrong if you’re doing the right thing,” Jovel said. “I don’t have to worry about any obstacle if my intentions are pure and I’m doing it for the greater glory of God. I now have the tools to overcome anything.”

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