A Story of Transformation

Sept. 18, 2013
By Linda Kent

Roman VazquezI first met Roman in the Pauline Literature class. He was quiet, but you could see he was taking it all in. When he did speak, he was most thoughtful. I never would have guessed what a rocky path he had walked as a freshman. Roman is now entering his senior year as a Business major and has been offered an internship with Northwestern Mutual as a financial representative. His transformation as a student has been remarkable.

Many challenges awaited Roman when he arrived at Trinity’s doors as a soccer player and student. For one, when he had visited campus earlier it was one of those wondrous 85 degree Northwest summer days. Now it was raining and raining. Going to school in his small community of Jerome, ID, he was the star athlete in several sports. There was no sitting on the sideline. Here, he found two other keepers with seniority, and so became acquainted with the bench. He missed his family and his mom’s meals. And studies. . . well they were a bit of an afterthought.

By the end of his freshman year, he had failed some classes. Jeff Mallinson, then academic dean, called him in, making it clear that if he didn’t get serious about his classes, he would not be returning. At that point something clicked. Roman realized he was letting an incredible opportunity for an education slip through his fingers like a top shelf strike on goal. It was time to change.

Vazquez had to re-take his Faith and Discipleship class with Professor Beth Elness-Hanson, but this time it was entirely different. Growing up in a Catholic family, faith and church were already part of the fabric of his life. He found the Word of God “fascinating.” Now he had the opportunity to dive into it himself. His long held goal of becoming rich, led him to do an in-depth study on a passage about being rich . . . that is, rich in the Kingdom. His perspective did a turnaround. Money was no longer his motivation. He realized that more than anything, he wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.

Soccer changed, too. He recognized that he could give up and sit there on the bench, or he could find out what he needed to do to improve his game. He talked with the coach. He put in the extra time, the extra sweat—a work ethic learned in his family.

“Through soccer, I’ve become more patient, which is a very important lesson,” Vazquez said.

Coach George Dremousis said of Vazquez, “Roman has dealt maturely with the challenges of fighting for a starting position. He is a very hard worker, is always looking to get better, and continues to tenaciously work toward his goal, which I respect. I sat next to Roman on the plane ride to L.A. for our play-off match last season and was very impressed with how analytical he was regarding world events and history. Roman is a great guy to be around and highly respected by his peers on the team.”

Going into his final year, Vazquez is especially grateful to the Trinity professors.

“For them it’s not just a job, it’s about building relationships with the students and being available. You can pick their brains. Dr. Webber (Business Department Chair) has been so good to me,” Vasquez said.

He cites Professor Elness-Hanson as being an exceptional Bible teacher. He is also venturing into new leadership territory as the Trinity Student Government (TSG) Vice President.

As far as life beyond Trinity, Vazquez is trying not to over think it—trusting that his path will unfold. What he does know is that he wants to make a difference, especially by being a voice for others whose voices cannot be heard.