Grillo-Marxuach Family Scholarship Supports Kroc School's Changemakers

Grillo-Marxuach Family Scholarship Supports Kroc School's Changemakers

When minds are aligned, focused on the same path and seeking the same result, it's a shared vision for success. When the attainment of said goal has the backing so that others can gain the knowledge, experience and develop actions to make the world a better place for all, you do it.

That, as Antonio Grillo-Lopez and Maria Marxuach-Grillo believe and see it, is how vitally important their support for education and support for people dedicated to making life better is to them.

"In both our families, education has been prized and highly valued as a tool to be informed and to get ahead in life," Grillo-Lopez says. "Both my wife and I value education very much. We have always felt that we have a responsibility to our family first, but also to society. We are very concerned about the society where our grandchildren will grow up. There's so much turmoil in the world. We are seeing such terrible things and they continue to happen. We're concerned about what kind of world we are creating for them. The question is what can you do to influence that, even in a small way? People do it in different ways, but what's the best way?"

Antonio, a retired, but highly accomplished medical doctor and professor, used his educational path to eventually be instrumental in the clinical development of more than 25 anti-cancer agents, including Rituxan for the treatment of low-grade non-Hodgkin's Lymphomas.

Maria is a three-degree earned, retired interior designer, who was a certified professional member of the American Society of Interior Design and the College of Interior Design of Puerto Rico. Married 55 years and the parents to three grown sons, each of whom are also high achievers, this couple's desire is to provide others with the gift of education that can transform the student and their goal of making a difference.

Enter the creation of the Grillo-Marxuach Family Scholarship. For the past few years with the Kroc School, and awhile longer with other institutions tied to their own education experiences, the family currently funds 27 scholarships at more than 10 institutions across the country, including their native and beloved Puerto Rico.

The family scholarships support high school, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students at places such as Yale, Harvard, USC, UC San Diego, Preuss (High School), Sacred Heart University in Puerto Rico, University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, Carnegie Mellon, MIT and Cornell.

USD Grillo-Marxuach Scholarship Recipients

At USD, the family supports students in the Kroc School's Master of Arts in Peace and Justice Studies who are from Puerto Rico, South and Latin America. Four students — Paloma Wiethorn Kochan of Brazil, Valentina Rivera Muñoz of Puerto Rico, Jeniffer Rivera Rodriguez of Puerto Rico and Veronica Musa from Argentina — are the first recipients of the scholarship. In May, Kochan and Muñoz became the first two scholarship recipients to graduate from USD. Musa and Rodriguez will complete their degree in 2020. Two new students, one from Brazil and another from Mexico, are finalizing their status to become the next Grillo-Marxuach Family Scholarship recipients.

"The Kroc School believes that if we want to shape a more just and peaceful world, we must invest in people with the passion and courage to create change," says Kroc School Dean, Patricia Marquez, PhD. "For greater peace to happen, we must prepare future generations of changemakers. Antonio and Maria share this belief. Thanks to the Grillo-Marxuach Family Scholarship we're able to identify and support best talent from Puerto Rico and Latin America. The first two Grillo-Marxuach Family scholars graduated and we are energized by the positive impact they will go on to have in the world."

Muñoz, born in San Juan, PR, came to USD after earning a bachelor's degree in psychology from Puerto Rico's Universidad del Sagrado Corazón. She learned about the scholarship during her final semester of undergraduate study. She applied and it put her on a pathway to make a difference.

"Without a scholarship, the chances of pursuing a master's degree right after finishing college were very slim," she said. "Having the financial support during two years of my degree helped me so much because I focused more on school. I became the director of marketing for the Peace and Justice Student Association and planned a food drive for Puerto Rico and Mexico. Graduating with the master's degree has changed my life and helped me understand the world better. I feel more excited and motivated to help marginalized communities."

Kochan, from São José, Brazil, double majored in international studies and political science at the University of New Mexico and participated in its Model United Nations program. Her focus was on violence against women, gender inequality and women's rights in Latin America. She fought for human rights when she volunteered and relocated Syrian refugees in Berlin, Germany. She's also worked for a nonprofit organization in San Diego, the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence.

Antonio and Maria were beaming with pride at the Kroc School's post-graduation celebration May 25. Muñoz and Kochan spent time conversing, smiling and posing for pictures with the couple, demonstrating their deep appreciation for the support and belief in them.

"They are both good people and we think they will go out and be good citizens, putting into practice everything they've learned from the school," Grillo-Lopez says.

The couple is equally excited about the potential they see in both Musa and Rodriguez, sensing their maturity and past experiences can enhance what they'll do through the Kroc School's degree program.

Musa, born in Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina, is a human rights lawyer with a specialization in comparative law. The first person in her family to have access to have access to education overseas, she's a seasoned world traveler and has worked on matters such as incarceration, immigration detention, women's rights and workers' rights. Her objective through the Kroc School program was to delve deeper on topics of intersection of post-conflict, transitional justice and human rights. It was inspired by an experience she had in 2015.

"I worked at a human rights center in Istanbul and I was exposed to a perspective more centered on the sustainability of human rights than the remedial or reparation aspects that I'd mostly focused previously. The environment there was one of optimistic expectation due to ongoing conversations about a peace process with the Kurdish guerilla. It was very inspiring. I thought this is transcendent work and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I looked into avenues to expand my lawyering skills with peacebuilding tools. My first year of this program was excellent. The Kroc School offered me everything I was looking for and more."

Rodriguez, who is from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, has a bachelor's in psychology from the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, Recinto de San Germán. After school she was a Peace Corps youth development volunteer in Costa Rica, communicating and assisting with projects done by youth and community members. She's continuing to build her skills set and that's exactly what the scholarship provides. 

Education’s Role in Peace

"I think through education, if we're going to change society, we have to do it one person at a time," Grillo-Lopez says. "We make sure they have a good education, have the knowledge and the tools to confront the realities of this world and resolve problems in a thoughtful, peaceful way."

The Grillo-Marxuach Family Scholarship is their rightful and hopeful step forward. "We feel very proud and have a deep sense of achievement in supporting these scholars,” Grillo said. “We know they will do much better in the future in part because of our support. The world will benefit from their work and accomplishments. We all work together for the good of mankind and to make the world a better place for our families, our society, and those who come after us."

— Ryan T. Blystone

Maria Marxuach-Grillo, Valentina Rivera Muñoz, Paloma Wiethorn Kochan, Dean Patricia Marquez and Antonio Grillo-Lopez celebrate success at Kroc School post-graduation party.Maria Marxuach-Grillo, Valentina Rivera Muñoz, Paloma Wiethorn Kochan, Dean Patricia Marquez and Antonio Grillo-Lopez celebrate success at Kroc School post-graduation party.

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