The late Judge Mario Umana, a liberal Democrat who as a senator and judge inspired his family and constituents here in East Boston with the philosophy that we all have an obligation and duty to contribute to the sumtotal of humanity. Since 2010 his legacy has been honored in a very special way through the Mario Umana Fellowship in Public Service.
This year two East Boston High School students and residents will participate in the fellowship program.
Charles Paizante and Alberto Ledesma were chosen for a paid summer internship at the East Boston District Court’s Probation Department and the City of Boston Commissioner of Veterans’ Services office.
Paizante will be interning for Commissioner of Veterans’ Services Francisco Urena.
Paizante is an 18-year-old East Boston High School senior and while he was born here in the United States his entire family immigrated to this country from Brazil.
“I am originally from Revere, but ever since I moved to East Boston as a young child, I have fallen in love with the community and intend to spend my life here,” he said. “Growing up with immigrant parents who went through many struggles of adjusting to life in a new country has taught me to always push myself and strive to be the best I can be. To that end, I am ecstatic that I have the great opportunity to be a Umana Fellow this summer, interning for Commissioner Francisco Urena.”
Ledesma, also an 18-year-old East Boston High School senior, was born in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to the United States when he was just two years ago. He will be interning for Chief Probation Officer of the East Boston Municipal Court Tom Tassinari.
He said since arriving in the states he has been looking for the opportunity to improve himself and become a successful man in the future.
“In the past two years, I have been able to learn English, build lasting relationships with my peers at East Boston High School, and establish myself in the City of Boston,” said Ledesma. “My career aspiration is to eventually work in government service here in the United States. The Umana Fellowship has given me an incredible opportunity to explore a career in public service. I believe that this program will give me the experience I need to be successful and will help me figure out what I want to do with my life.”
Tassinari said when he first spoke with Judge Roberto Ronquillo and he agreed to take a Umana Fellow he did not realize that it would come at a time when we would be very shorthanded.
“We recently had a retirement and a promotion leaving us critically shorthanded,” said Tassinari. “The addition of this young man, even for the short time we have him has helped out immensely on many levels, most especially with translation and filling in with vacations.”
The fellowship was spearheaded by former East Boston High Headmaster Michael Rubin, Umana’s daughter, Jeanne, former City Hall liaison to Eastie Ernani DeAraujo and Representative Carlo Basile’s Chief of Staff Adrian Madaro.
“The Ward Fellowship gave me a broader perspective of what I could do with my life including becoming a lawyer and elected official. I hope that the Umana Fellowship will do the same for East Boston High students,” said DeAraujo. “We believe that it’s irresponsible to gamble with our children’s future and set out to improve their lives through mentoring and a structured internship. The Umana Fellowship invests in developing young leaders who will be active participants in our civic and political life.”
The fellowship will culminate in a community service project that the fellows will create like a voter registration drive, a food kitchen at a homeless shelter or any other creative public service ventures. The fellows will be required to participate to take part in several speakers’ series with prominent figures such as police and fire chiefs, the mayor or representatives from the state and federal judiciary system.
“I was afforded the opportunity to intern in the public sector as a Ward Fellow at Boston Latin School and interned with Jim Hunt, former Chief of Environmental and Energy Affairs for the City of Boston,” said Madaro. “That was my first foray into public service and government and it inspired me to pursue a career in public service. I wanted to give the same opportunity Boston Latin School kids have through the Ward Fellowship to East Boston High School kids, which resulted in the founding of the Umana Fellowship.”
The fellowship is named in honor of the Honorable Mario Umana, an alumnus of East Boston High School, who rose to become an esteemed legislator and judge.
Fellows will be paid a stipend of $1,200 for 10 weeks of work for the participating elected or appointed sponsors. The Fellowship will raise funds from the community and from the participating sponsors.
This year, Luis Vasco, owner of Taco Mex and Crown Fried Chicken, made a donation of $1,200 to sponsor one fellow’s entire summer internship.
Other sponsors this year included Juan Montoya of El Paisa, Jose Giraldo of El Kiosco, State Representative Carlo Basile, Attorney Richard Lynds, Attorney Jeffrey Drago and Debra Cave.