Antonio Rios’s determination to attain a higher education, and give back to his community, has propelled him through the obstacles he has encountered in pursuit of his dream. With the support of his eldest brother, who sacrificed the opportunity to go to college, and went to work at a carpet mill in order to provide for the family; and his mother, who serves as the primary caretaker for his second-oldest brother, who, as the result of several disabilities, requires continuous care; he has successfully navigated the road to college, as a first-generation low-income student.
Antonio applied to and was accepted to Stanford University, where he is now a sophomore, studying Bioengineering and Computer Science. He recounts that when it came time for him to move across the country to go to school, he found it challenging to make the decision to leave his home in Georgia. Despite this hurdle, he says that he was motivated to pursue a college degree, in order to empower the marginalized, and improve his own family’s otherwise limited economic prospects.
Now an active member of campus life, and passionate about justice, he serves as Vice President of Stanford Amnesty (a chapter of Amnesty International), and is engaged in global rights activist organizations. He is also a member of the Bioengineering Club and Stanford’s Society of Latinx Engineers, and works as a research assistant in the School of Engineering.
For his academic achievements, Antonio has received several recognitions. He is an HSF Scholar and a Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America Scholar. Additionally, he was awarded The Gates Scholarship, and was a Boothe Prize nominee, in recognition of his outstanding expository and argumentative writing.
In August, Antonio was one of 100 Scholars invited to attend HSF’s annual, National Leadership Conference (NLC). NLC provides an inside track to academic and professional excellence to top HSF Scholars, through a combination of mentoring, leadership development, professional insights, career guidance, and internship and job opportunities. He says that the professional networking opportunities afforded by HSF are invaluable, and that the HSF network is itself, “a family.”
He plans to pursue a career in the field of biotechnology, after completing his undergraduate and doctoral degrees, to one day become “Dr. Rios.” He hopes to be able to use his education to help “disintegrate systems of oppression…[and] assist in the refugee crisis worldwide.”
To those who are contemplating higher education, he says, “Do not ever doubt yourself or your capabilities, because you are capable of so much.”