May 24, 2004

‘Renaissance man’ Aparicio honored with Brittain Award


By Beverly Clark

To describe Hugo Aparicio’s college career as accomplished is an understatement for the Phi Beta Kappa scholar, year-round athlete and devoted volunteer. Aparicio’s achievements earned him Emory’s highest student honor, the Marion Luther Brittain Award.

The award is an expression of gratitude on behalf of the University for service performed without expectation of reward or recognition. It was established in 1942 through a bequest from Brittain, an Emory alumnus and former president of Georgia Tech. Aparicio, a native of Bolivia who grew up in Lexington, Ky., double-majored in Spanish and biology. A Robert Woodruff Scholar, he plans to attend medical school in the fall, possibly concentrating in pediatrics.

“I was really surprised to receive the award, knowing that there are so many great students here,” Aparicio said. “As a Woodruff Scholar, I felt a nice sense of obligation to give back as much as possible to Emory and to appreciate all of the opportunities I’ve had. Not everyone gets a chance be involved in so many different things or has the opportunity to soak up the vast amount of knowledge available here.”

Aparicio’s nominator aptly described him as a “Renaissance man,” said Martin Howell, who headed the award committee and is assistant to the senior vice president for Campus Life.

“Hugo had a variety of activities,” Howell said. “He was an athlete and did a lot of service in Atlanta, as well as internationally. What really stood out about Hugo was his modesty. He is somebody who would not want to see himself in the spotlight.”

Aparicio ran varsity track and cross-country year-round, captained an intramural soccer team and performed in Emory’s Rathskellar improv comedy troupe while also earning membership in Phi Eta Sigma and Phi Beta Kappa honor societies, making the dean’s list four out of his seven semesters.

As a volunteer, he tutored in the Emory Writing Center and in the Emory Pathways to Academic Success for Students program. He also served as a mentor in the Hughes Science Scholar Summer Institute. In the community, he completed a summer as coordinator for the Ready, Set, Read! literacy program at Grady Hospital’s North DeKalb Health Center. For the past three years, he has served as a Big Brother mentor with Big Brothers of Atlanta, an activity he called one of his favorite experiences.

“My little brother is 12, and hopefully I’ve made a difference and shown him a little of what opportunities are out there for him,” Aparicio said. “Spending time with him never feels like volunteer work.”

He participated in two Journeys of Reconciliation—to Ireland in 2001 and Bolivia in 2002—as part of the ecumenical program that Emory students the opportunity to cultivate relationships of partnership, service and friendship with impoverished communities around the world. He also participated in a research trip to Ecuador.

Aparicio served as the scholarship chairman for Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and philanthropy chairman of the Latino Student Organization. He received a 2004 Excellence Award from the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services for his studies in Spanish.