The University of St. Thomas

Center for Catholic Studies | Habiger Institute

Meet the Latino Leaders

Meet the Latino Leaders

Meet the 2013-14 Latino Leadership scholarship recipients

Brandon Miranda '14
Sacramento, California

Catholic Studies and Political Science

"The difference between most students and myself is that I want a career that will benefit the community more than myself.  With all the resources that St. Thomas will provide me with, I feel I can further use my potential to service the community to a fuller extent. Whether it is through politics, education or religion, service is truly what I wish to achieve."



Nicolas Gutierrez '14
Arlington, Texas

Catholic Studies and Theology

"I plan to do the Lord’s will, and use my education in Catholic Studies and Theology to pursue a career in teaching high school theology and/or leading youth ministry. My desire in this career is to bring a sense of devotion to the classroom… not to make theology another history lesson, but used for greater knowledge of the One who gave it all."


Renee Estrada '14
Phoenix, AZ
Catholic Studies and Communications

"I am so thankful for the Latino Leadership program. Through this scholarship my eyes have been opened to the need for community life amongst all Latinos. This program has helped me grow in service and leadership, which has helped shaped me into the woman I am today. My relationship with God has been greatly influenced by the Latino Leadership program and I will forever hold the memories of the Latino Leaders in my heart."

Stacy Lona '15
Baldwin Park, CA
Communications & Journalism and Catholic Studies
“Coming from a dense Hispanic population in Southern California, it is rare for one to move away from family in order to pursue an out-of-state college education. I am confident in my ability to return home and be a positive influence to those who lack support or motivation for higher education.”

 Juan Ferreras '16
Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic
Business Marketing and Catholic Studies

“The Dominican Republic is a developing nation… a country that needs well-prepared young professionals. [After graduating from the University of St. Thomas] I will be able to help my community (Honduras del Norte) in a very positive way, participating in the common activities, sharing my acquired knowledge to help others, helping those who didn’t have the opportunity to attend a college or those who are alone in the world without hope.”

Alison Paz '16
Rochester, MN
Catholic Studies and Social Work

"With a degree in Social Work and Catholic Studies I have a wide range of opportunities to help the suffering community. Sometimes the social work field has opposing views from the Catholic Church. With my Catholic Studies major, I will be able to insure that my views, the work I do, and the advice I offer can be grounded in faith."


Jordan Saiz '16
Lubbock, TX
Catholic Studies 

"For the past nine months I have been serving as a missionary with Christ in the City in Denver, CO. In this ministry I have had the privege of serving on a variety of apostolates, includign Hispanic outreach. My St. THomas education will enhance my role on my parish and my community by strengthening my intellectual and spiritual formation. I am thankful for this opportunity to enrich my St. Thomas education through the Latino Leadership program."

Jonathan Guzman '17
Eagan, MN
Catholic Studies and Psychology

"St. Thomas will help me to become a morally disciplined leaders... something a community needs when praoblems areise. People are sometimes in dire need of help and try to find someone in the crowd whom they can look up to for guidance. UST will empower me to become a unique and moral individual so that I can step in when needed and become a good example. My education will be challenging, but the results will be well worth my effort." 


 Recent Graduates


Alexandra Castano ‘13
Miami, Florida
Catholic Studies and Business Administration, B.A.

Ms. Castano is the Accounting and Sales Administrator for Aufderworld in Plymouth, MN

"I am constantly seeking in my life, an environment that allows me to grow closer to Christ. I am confident that the atmosphere that surrounds St. Thomas would help strengthen the foundations of my faith. This past summer I realized that my vocation is to integrate my faith with my calling to an administrative atmosphere. This is where Christ wants me to be."

Jace M. Bravo ‘13
Rancho Cucamonga, California
Catholic Studies and Communications/Journalism, B.A.

Mr. Bravo is the Campus Minister for the K-8 at St. Mary's School in Rancho Cucamonga, CA

"The Catholic Studies Latino Leaders program has given me a deeper understanding of who I am as a Latino student, but most importantly, who I am as a Son of God.  This Latino program offers the opportunity to dive deeper into our spiritual lives, which proves to be the necessity of life. The absolute blessing that this program is continues to help me and my brothers and sisters grow by service, love, and leadership."

R. Nolan Gutierrez ‘13
Arlington, Texas
Catholic Studies and Communications/Journalism, B.A.

Mr. Gutierrez is the K-8 Spanish teacher at St. Mark's School in St. Paul, MN.

"A Catholic Studies program sounds so attractive to me; to spend time learning about our background
and more about our theology sounds incredible."

Bryant Daniel Ortega '12
Baldwin Park, California
Catholic Studies and General Business, B.A.

Mr. Ortega is the Assistant Manager at Café Bene in St. Paul, MN.

"My father once told me, ’Querer es poder,’ Where there is a will, there is a way and being a part of the Latino Leaders at Saint Thomas has provided the way and support in becoming a man of integrity and conviction. Through this conviction, I hope to share my understanding of Business and Catholic Studies and serve as a role model to the youth of my parish to carry out activities that capture the essential lessons of theology, philosophy, and the Catholic faith."

Vincenzo Randazzo
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Catholic Studies and Philosophy, B.A.

Mr. Randazzo is the higher education liason for St. Stephen's Church in Minneapolis, MN.

"Every day I am lured towards Christian greatness. I can't fully explain how, but it has to do with my friendships fostered with the students and staff at Catholic Studies. This mystery is experienced by my friends too, and magnified by them. If it were not for the scholarships offered by Catholic Studies, so many students (like myself) would have never become captivated by this attractive spirit which comes from our faith in Jesus Christ. I know that the challenges it has brought me to, at this university,
has made me who I am.”

Angel Riera '12
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Catholic Studies, Political Science and Spanish, B.A.

Mr. Riera is a K-8 assistant teacher at Higher Ground Academy in St. Paul, MN.

"As I integrate my faith and vocation, the hopes and dreams in my life are to be a better Catholic, to help those in need... to help young Latino teenagers who are having difficulty with thier journeys to a better life, and improve communitites that lack resources." 

Irma Montes ‘11
Schuyler, Nebraska
Catholic Studies, B.A.

Ms. Montes is the Hispanic Outreach Coordinator at Holy Name Catholic parish in Denver, Colorado.
She is also studying for her Masters degree at The Augustine Institute in Denver, CO.


Gabriella Arguello Quillan '11
Miami, Florida
Catholic Studies and Broadcast Journalism, B.A.

 Ms. Arguello is now pursuing her Masters degree in Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas

"It’s important to note that had it not been for this scholarship and the people who took interest in me, I would not be the person I am today. And furthermore, I would not have the relationship with Christ that I do."

Felipe Jaque Pino '10
Valapraiso, Chile
Catholic Studies and Finance, B.A.

Mr. Jaque Pino is a research assistant in finance for Evalueserve, in Valparaiso, Chile

Claudia Munoz Hnasko ‘10
Apple Valley, California
Catholic Studies and Theology, B.A.

 Ms. Munoz Hanasko is the C.M.F.P. Formation Coordinator
at the Archdiocese of San Bernardino, California

"Our intellect grows when we decide and allow the proper acts to have an effect on it. My last major decision was moving to Minnesota in order to pursue my degree in Theology. Not only did I choose to move here out of obligation for ‘mi gente’ to continue moving towards integration, but because I carry this immense desire to live, not for myself, but solely for ‘la gente’ and God alone.".

Jackie Bernal Wald '10
Miami, Florida
Catholic Studies, Philosophy, and Family Studies, B.A.

Ms. Bernal Wald is a stay-at-home mother with two young sons in Minneapolis, MN.

"This fall and spring I wanted to be challenged and so I decided to take classes where most of the material would be new to me. I took Dr. Kennedy’s Catholic Social Thought class. I learned about where the Church stood on several controversial issues, as well as why it took the stance it did."