Raven Assist: They Gave, She Served
If you watched the 2021 Benedictine College Scholarship Ball, you met Adriana Aguirre Cortes, a senior Elementary and Special Education major originally from Cananea and Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico — and if you haven’t seen the Ball, check it out.
Cortes told the story of moving to Denver after high school and spending years ministering to those in need on the streets.
“After high school I really wanted to take some time off and become a missionary. That has always been my dream. I ended up in Christ in the City in Denver,” she said. That apostolate’s main goal is to build friendships with the homeless and accompany them, she said.
“Growing up I think that I experienced a beautiful childhood, and I’m very grateful for that,” said Adriana. “I’ve also been a witness of the suffering of people. At home I live very close to a lot of poor, kids working until midnight just to be able to eat. And because of how much life has given me, through so many people, I really want to give that back to kids.”
At a dinner a FOCUS missionary challenged her about what she will do with her life next. “My dream is to go to college, and I want to stay in the States,” she confessed.
He asked Cortes what college she had in mind, and she had only one answer: Benedictine College.
“My first year I visited Benedictine and I fell in love with the college,” she said. It was an impossibility though, she said; she could never afford it. The missionary told her he would see what he could do. Not long after, Adriana received a call from the Financial Aid Office.
“They gave me everything I needed,” she said. “It made me feel special and I have a big responsibility. I always question, ‘Why me?’ There are tons of other people that could be in my place.”
Scholarships made a Benedictine College education a reality for Adriana. Specifically, Adriana received the Jim and Peggy Andra Scholarship. Jim ’69 and Peggy Lanham ’69 Andra spent nearly 100 years combined in education after graduating from St. Benedict’s College and Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison. They established their scholarship to provide a legacy to ensure future generations of Catholic-educated teaching professionals, particularly in elementary, secondary and special education.
Jim and Peggy have enjoyed getting to know their Raven beneficiary through Adriana’s letters of gratitude for the scholarship they provided.
“Adriana has accomplished so much in such a short time,” said Jim. “To overcome the language barrier and to excel at the same time is quite impressive.”
Indeed, Adriana has been a member of the Dean’s List every semester she’s been at Benedictine College. She’s led multiple mission trips to Belize and Guatemala, and upon graduation in May she plans to teach students where the population is in need of particular emotional and psychological support.
“I know there is no way I can pay back the way they have helped me but I promise to do my best,” she said, “and keep making this world a better place.”
The Andras say that getting to know Adriana has only strengthened their pride in their alma mater, and they look forward to seeing the fulfillment of the career they helped make possible.
Jim said, “Adriana will certainly leave a positive footprint as she leaves Benedictine and enters her career.”