VOLUME 19 #3

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Jim Soles changed my life

Alumni and others whose lives were touched share their memories and thoughts.

Paul M. Ruiz Jr., AS10

Paul Ruiz

I received the Soles Citizenship Endowment in the spring of 2009. It funded my summer internship in U.S. House of Representatives. I was a first-generation college student, and I really could not afford to pay out of pocket for an unpaid internship. The Soles Endowment covered my transportation, living and food expenses for the summer in D.C. My internship actually inspired my undergraduate senior thesis about the "Blue Dog Democrats" (the member of Congress I interned for was part of that group). Speaking purely aboutthe endowment, I would not have been able to do ANY internship had it not been for the generosity of Dr. Soles' former students; I very simply could not afford it. I actually acknowledged Dr. Soles and the Endowment in the acknowledgements of my thesis. I am so happy there is such a resource for students pursuing public service careers.

The first time I met Dr. Soles was at the Celebration of Scholarship dinner in May 2010. The Endowment students were seated at a table, and he had each of us tell him about how we used the fund. He was really intrigued as each of us told him about our variousexperiences. I really had never met a nicer person; he carried himself as a true Southern gentleman.

I was fortunate enough to be invited over to his house in the fall of 2010. My friend Brian had a really close relationship with him and thought I might enjoy conversing. At the time, Dr. Soles was getting food prepared for him, and since it was just himself, he had a lot of extra food. We heated the food, and talked about the upcoming 2010 midterm for a couple of hours in his dining room. He recalled the social tumult of the ’60s and shared with us: "In 1963, I cried when they killed John Kennedy, and in 1968, I cried when they killed Dr. Martin Luther King, but when they killed Robert Kennedy I didn't cry—I swore that some day I would run for public office." I actually have that quote on my favorite quotations section of my Facebook; it's memorable because when I recall him saying it, he said it with such emphasis and passion that words on paper alone cannot capture it. He was so happy that our generation of young people had someone to respect in much the same way that he looked up to Robert F. Kennedy.

In short: I'm so proud that my name is forever connected to the name and legacy of Dr. Jim Soles through the Endowment. I am profoundly thankful for the opportunity to do a D.C. internship when I otherwise would not be able to do one. I am so happy that there is a group of his former students who continue to honor his teaching legacy by paying it forward to the next generation of public servants. The Soles Endowment inspired my senior thesis, and continues to pay dividends in my current graduate studies.


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