Homeboy Industries founder inspires student activism

PHOTO COURTESY OF HOMEBOY INDUSTRIES

 

By Sonia Saavendra

A crowd of enthusiastic Elans welcomed Father Gregory J. Boyle with his message of unity and hope for the future to the Edison Auditorium last Thursday.

East Los Angeles College’s Puente Project helped arrange for Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries, to speak to Elans.

Boyle received his Master of Arts in English from Loyola Marymount University, a Master’s of Divinity from the Weston School of Theology and a Master’s of Sacred Theology degree from the Jesuit School of Theology.

He is currently a member of the State Commission on Juvenile Justice, Crime and Delinquency Prevention, and serves on the National Youth Gang Center Advisory Board.

Boyle wrote a book entitled “Tattoos on the Heart,” which is a memoir of his life released in 2010.

“I want to help out my community in any way I can. Reading his book inspires me to find ways to bring my community together,” said Elan Hector Rodriguez.

As soon as Boyle went up on stage, the entire audience was on their feet cheering for him as he spoke about ways to bring communities together.

Boyle said, “I am presuming you want to imagine the world to look differently… I want to suggest something… a community of kinship. There is an illusion that there are an us and them, but really, it’s just us.”

Many of the students were moved by Boyle’s words.

“I see things differently now after what Boyle said today. I feel, as a community, we all need to help each other. We all need to do something for the community. I should be less selfish and go help out the community,” said Rodriguez.

Boyle’s words inspired many students to set out to contribute to their communities.

Elan Yvonne Cruz said she is passionate about the community coming together and supporting such projects, just like Boyle.

Cruz wants to assist younger students, like elementary and middle school students, to grow up with a mentality that they need to have character and pursue their education.

Cruz said she wants to reach the younger children by not letting them fall into the traps that could pull them away from school and the positive aspects that help him.

Besides talking about ways on how to improve communities, Boyle also talked about dealing with the loss of loved ones.

Boyle spoke about his relationship with an ex-gang member who became like a son to him.

He touched on how he dealt with his loss.

“Death is the worst thing that can happen to you, so brace yourself. You have to begin making a list right now of all things that are more powerful than death,” said Boyle.

Some students were in tears as they heard Boyle speak about his experience of losing a loved one.

Boyle motivated some Elans to help change the way things are at ELAC.

“I want to assist in increasing the transfer rate at ELAC. From what I know, in comparison to other community colleges, ELAC has a low transfer rate. A lot of people here do seem motivated, but feel like they can’t transfer,” said Chase Matamoroz.

Boyle continues to help out communities and inspires students to do the same.

Matamoroz said, “It was really inspiring to hear so many people have compassion for their community and who want see their community enhance.”

“There are a lot of places and people in my community that I want to help throughout my lifetime,” said Matamoroz.

 

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