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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Student Profile: Francisco Toro

Young Kevin Xia

Young Kevin Xia

Francisco Toro is not your average thirty-three year old.

As a college student, single parent, and a disabled veteran, Toro has a lot on his plate. And if that isn’t enough, Toro works as coordinator of Casa Latina, the Student Center for UMB’s Latino students. That’s right-Toro fights for social equality in his community while juggling two kids, school and work. For Toro the day may never end, yet his mere presence generates warmth, happiness, and an eager lust for life. All who know Toro know that his life has not been easy. But Toro has proven, against all odds, that good things come to those who work for it.

As a teenager living in Haverhill, Toro recalls the moment when he realized the importance of political activism. At the young age of 13, Toro attempted to apply for a job at a local store. He dressed for the occasion, wearing khakis and an argyle sweater, the appropriate preppy attire for a job interview. Before setting foot in the store, Toro telephoned the store manager to make sure that the position was still available. A few minutes later, an impassioned Toro entered the store.

“The manager just took one look at me and said that the job was already taken,” expressed Toro. It was then that Toro realized that the manager was discriminating against him because he was Puerto Rican. “That was when I began to see inequality and began to see the importance of activism,” Toro concluded.

A few years after the disillusioning job incident, Toro decided to join the military, where again, disaster struck: Toro was badly injured in airborne training. The doctors told him that he would not be able to walk again. Despite the doctor’s disappointing words, Toro struggled and fought to keep hope alive. Today, he’s up and walking!

“When I walk, you can see a little bit of a limp, but nothing too noticeable. The fact that I can walk is proof that I never give up. I wanted to do it, and I did it.”

Before the accident, Toro wanted to open his own restaurant, but the accident forced Toro to stray away from the restaurant business. Toro instead shifted his attention to computers, and was able to get contract jobs with different companies through his self-taught expertise. The jobs paid well, according to Toro, however, he was often overlooked for full-time positions because he lacked formal training. When two new daughters came into his life, Marielene and Meleney, Toro decided to go back to school.

As a respected and admired member of UMB, Toro leaves his imprint on the world by participating in a plethora of social activities. “I caught the activism bug from my mom,” he said. “She was a student at UMB, a single parent, and she still managed to stay active in the community. She started the Puerto Rican Festival in Chelsea.”

Toro offered some insightful advice to UMB students. “Sometimes life determines what you’re going to do, and you have to let it lead you. Just remember that, as you grow older, the things you end up regretting are the things that you didn’t do. Explore while you’re young. There are some great opportunities here at UMB, and you should take advantage of them.”

Toro will be graduating this year. He is excited about finishing his studies at UMB. He also hopes to take graduate level courses in the future, but will cease to take classes as his daughters approach their college years.