Class of 2020: Zuriel Herran


Zuriel Herran

As a Sondheim Scholar, Zuriel has shown never-ending enthusiasm for learning, engaging in the many communities he is part of, and helping others. Zuriel has served as an active member of the Sondheim Steering Committee, working with the group to imagine and run the first Sondheim Retreat. Zuriel also served as a volunteer on Global Brigades spring break volunteer programs in three Central American countries, and this year, he served as the UMBC Global Brigades Campus Chairperson. He has mentored several younger Sondheim Scholars and members of the Shriver Center Living Learning Community. Zuriel has been recognized with several awards, including an Outstanding Senior Award from the UMBC Department of Geography and Environmental Systems, the Honors College Community Service Award, and tutoring and mentorship awards from organizations he has served, including the Esperanza Center, the UMB CURE mentoring program, and First Robotics Team #5830.

After graduation, Zuriel will work as a full-time civil servant with the U.S. Department of Defense. He plans to continue meaningful civic engagement through serving as a tutor for K-12 students and remaining active in his faith community. In the future, he plans to pursue graduate education.

Here are a few of Zuriel’s thoughts about his time as a UMBC Sondheim Scholar:

What are you most proud of from your time at UMBC?

I treasure the opportunity to learn from and serve several different communities in Baltimore City and across the globe.  The Sondheim Program equipped me with various support systems that enabled me to translate my academic success into supporting the success of historically under-resourced communities. Whether I partnered with local students with refugee backgrounds or rural community banks in Panama, these experiences resulted in mutual empowerment against the momentum of disenfranchisement and apathy.

What was your favorite Sondheim event?

My favorite Sondheim event was participating in the Fall Retreat where an inter-cohort community could be built around entertaining and educational activities.

What is an important thing you learned about yourself at UMBC?

An important lesson I learned about myself at UMBC was that I can serve where needed anywhere I go.  I arrived at UMBC eager to expand my view of Baltimore beyond Camden Yards, M&T Bank Stadium, and the Inner Harbor.  There were some nervous feelings, but I committed to have as much consistent engagement within the city as my schedule would allow. Today, no matter where I go, I habitually seek meaningful manners to serve and learn from those around me.

What’s an important thing you learned about the world beyond campus while you were a student at UMBC?

The world beyond campus would benefit from students avoiding the temptation of continuing a history and legacy of college-aged students using their degrees primarily for themselves rather than contributing to the arduous task of finding unity and diversity. Finding unity in diversity is the point of a uni-veristy (this is an idea by philosopher Ravi Zacharias, check him out). Unity in diversity requires humility for those who have relatively more power to sacrifice and for those who have relatively less to avoid the mistakes of the powerful’s pride.