When Luis Giron-Negron began tutoring teenagers in Dorchester in 1986, it didn’t take him long to realize that teaching was a talent through which he could serve others. Out of the 14 Harvard freshman from Puerto Rico in 1984, Luis was the only one who wasn’t from an elite school in San Juan. As a Puerto Rican immigrant and undergraduate student at Harvard, he also discovered that ministry and service helped him maintain his “spiritual sanity.”
Luis never left Harvard – going from undergraduate to graduate school to faculty – and was an EVcorpstutor for 17 years. He worked with five different tutees over the years, and each made an impression on him. They gave him his first up-close view of the Hispanic diaspora in the United States, and connected him to their own unique stories. He saw that the challenges the youth and their families faced were by and large not of their own making. One tutee dropped out of the program because his father was being released from prison, and the family had to flee for their safety. Another was raised in a violent household and struggled with angry outbursts. Luis found that they spent more time on mentoring than on academics. Another tutee lost a brother to AIDS. Luis was a mentor and friend for each tutee and saw each tutee as an opportunity for him to be of service and live out his life of Christian discipleship. So he dug in, becoming part of the EVkids structure of support that told kids they were valuable when so much else in the world tried to push them down.
These days, as the chair of the Comparative Literature Department and a professor in both Comparative Literature and Romance Languages at Harvard, he gets to do plenty of teaching. In the current political climate of fear and violence, Luis worries about Hispanic children and their families. He worries about his friends and family in Puerto Rico, still without power, water, and medical care weeks after Hurricane Maria. Striving to be a resource for friends, family, students, and strangers alike, he and other professors took Puerto Rican students out to dinner to share their grief and fear for their home, and to strategize about how to be of most help.
He is also an EVkids Board member, where he helps to keep alight the essential spirit of the organization – the belief that every child has innate value and unknown potential.