Broncos from across the years came together at Grand Reunion to honor their heroes and celebrate their passions. And with two $100,000 endowments, alumni ensured that the generosity of the lives of Francisco ’66 and Laura Jiménez ’67, as well as Jim Reites, S.J., MST ’71, would be felt by future generations of Santa Clara students.
Lorenzo Gamboa ’03 didn’t need to read Francisco Jiménez’s books to know his story. He lived it himself: immigrant parents, field work, college ambitions. But studying his writing and taking classes with Jiménez offered a blueprint: “To this day, I want to be a Francisco,” Gamboa says. “I want to open the opportunities for others to be him.”
Gamboa, now senior associate director of Undergraduate Admission and co-chair of the Latino group of the Alumni Association, helped create the endowed Francisco and Laura Jiménez Breaking Through Scholarship for first-generation college students. At Grand Reunion, $60,000 was raised for the program. And a celebratory luncheon brought together people whose lives the couple influenced: former classmates like Margaret Stewart ’66, who made special accommodations to attend her first reunion despite using a walker; alumni who had taken his classes; friends of SCU; local third-graders who had learned of Jiménez just this year.
Others came to remember Papa Reites. John Spieth ’06 was one of them. His first year at SCU, Spieth’s room was right across the hall from religious studies professor Jim Reites. Spieth quickly bonded with the spry Jesuit over life, sports, even Eminem and Tupac Shakur. He ultimately joined Fr. Reites on immersion trips to Mexico to build houses and later to Germany.
When Fr. Reites passed away in April 2016, Spieth wanted to set up an endowed fund in his honor. He wasn’t alone. A small group of alumni crafted the endowment, which they announced at a memorial service during Grand Reunion. Dede Melone ’06, a community facilitator in McLaughlin-Walsh Residence Hall under Fr. Reites, marveled at the array of stories shared at the memorial. A man she thought she knew so well—as a boss (of sorts), an educator, mentor, world traveler, philanthropist, biker (pedals, road)—had even more grooves. “You realize how many facets he had,” Melone says. “Everyone had a different experience with him.”
The Jim Reites, S.J. “Building Hope” Award Fund and Endowment raised $20,000 at Grand Reunion. By December, it eclipsed $100,000, including $50,000 from the School of Engineering. The fund will support immersion trips as well as engineering projects like the solar decathlon and Tiny House—hands-on projects in honor of a hands-on educator.