Ever since Julian Santos ’22 changed his mind about becoming a priest, he has been trying to catch up—financially, that is. He applied to Marian University with the intention of being a seminarian sponsored by the Glenmary Home Missioners outside Cincinnati, Ohio.
He’s not the first college student to reconsider his choice of major, so that was not a big deal. The problem was that he really liked Marian and wanted to stay, but that meant a sudden scramble to secure scholarships and financial aid he’d never even thought to look into before.
But he figured it out. He did receive a St. Francis Academic Scholarship for his GPA and ACT score, as well as a small band scholarship. He also found a job in the campus mailroom. Then, in his sophomore year, he became a resident assistant as well. It wasn’t always easy juggling two jobs, his classes, and multiple extra-curriculars, including speech and debate team, marching band, sacred choir, and theatre.
But he was making it work…until the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Suddenly, he had to come up with cash for extra-large luggage and a plane ticket home to Georgia. His father teaches high school Spanish and his mother is a domestic violence victim’s advocate, but was out of work at the time. There was also another brother still living at home and grandparents in town who needed support. And a tuition payment was due for the spring semester, with next fall’s tuition bill soon to come.
Santos applied to Sallie Mae for a school loan but was denied due to too much existing family debt. So, the family prayed and sent Santos back to Marian in May to work full-time in the mailroom. And, then, their prayers were answered.
“I’ll never forget opening up my tuition bill and seeing it zeroed out. We soon found out that cash from the new Helping Hands Fund had been applied. We knew then that God really was looking out for us. It was such a powerful moment,” he said.
Santos is glad to be back on the campus where his experiences there have helped him discover his true calling.
“Joining the speech and debate team taught me that I can and want to speak for others. And I’ve loved how it feels to be someone’s support system as a resident assistant. I just like to make people feel included,” said Santos, who has decided to pursue civil rights law for the LGTBQ community along with pastoral ministry for those who feel abandoned by the Church.
When Santos calls home, he and his mother still talk about what a miracle Marian’s Helping Hands Fund was for them in very desperate times. Though she has warned him that financial trouble will continue to be part of his life with this career path, he knows she is proud of his choice.
“Watching my mom defend and support others was a big influence growing up, but I would not be the person I am today, with this particular career path, if it weren’t for my experiences at Marian University,” said Santos.
And that is something he will not be changing his mind about.