How Education Can Transform Poverty in Honduras
Father Álvaro Shares His Mission with Iona University Students
New Rochelle, N.Y. (November 2023) – Iona University’s 2023 Cornelia Lecturer, Fr. Álvaro Ramos, recently met with hundreds of students to discuss his mission to leverage the power of education to transform lives and end poverty in Honduras.
The Central American nation is the second poorest country in the Americas with almost 3 million children who cannot finish their studies due to lack of resources and motivation.
“I prefer to see this not as a major problem, but as a great opportunity to create wealth for society. Every child, if properly cared for, can be a source of talent for the world. It is the lack of opportunities that differentiates us,” said Fr. Álvaro, who in 2019 received the King of Spain Human Rights Award for a mission in Honduras.
Father Álvaro is a former a private equity executive from Spain, with an MBA from the University of North Carolina and experience in the investment banking arm of Bank of America. After visiting Honduras, he quit his job and became a priest.
His visit to Iona in New Rochelle attracted the attention of The Wall Street Journal, who reported on his mission and attended the lecture. During the presentation, Álvaro explained a misconception about poverty.
“The poor cannot expect their government or the international community to change their condition. Instead, the community must take the lead,” he said.
Father Álvaro works with ACOES, a nonprofit organization that empowers Hondurans to eradicate extreme poverty through education.
In Honduras, ACOES is managed by high school and college students from poor backgrounds sponsored by the organization. Today, these young people have grown into a group of 1,000 people across 11 regions Honduras helping 11,500 students and 5,000 elderly and single mothers.
Helping the poor changed Father Álvaro's life and others can follow his path. Anyone interested in learning more about Father Álvaro's mission can contact him at Álvaroramos@acoes.org.
Sean P. D'Alfonso, Ed.D., director of Iona’s Office of Mission and Ministry, organized the visit as part of Iona’s annual celebration of the life of its first President, Br. William Barnabas Cornelia.
Iona celebrates Br. Cornelia as it commits itself to being a caring academic community, inspired by the legacy of St. Columba, Blessed Edmund Rice and the Christian Brothers, who championed the liberating power of education.
“Both St. Columba and Edmund Rice were men who gave up lives of comfort and affluence to more closely live out their faith with a purpose of promoting education,” D’Alfonso said. “Father Álvaro is a wonderful representation of someone who embodies such a legacy, and whose work inspires us to do more.”
Founded in 1940, Iona University is a master's-granting private, Catholic, coeducational institution of learning in the tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers. Iona's 45-acre New Rochelle campus and 28-acre Bronxville campus are just 20 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. With a total enrollment of nearly 4,000 students and an alumni base of more than 50,000 around the world, Iona is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona is highly accredited, offering undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science and business administration, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and numerous advanced certificate programs. Iona students enjoy small class sizes, engaged professors and a wide array of academic programs across the School of Arts & Science; LaPenta School of Business; NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences; and Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Iona is widely recognized in prestigious rankings, including The Princeton Review’s 2024 national list of “The Best 389 Colleges” and The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse’s “2024 Best Colleges in America,” which ranked Iona at #66 in the nation overall and #8 in the nation among Catholic schools. Iona’s LaPenta School of Business is also accredited by AACSB International, a recognition awarded to just six percent of business schools worldwide. In addition, The Princeton Review recognized Iona’s on-campus MBA program as a “Best Business School for 2023.” Iona also offers a fully online MBA program for even greater flexibility. In July 2021, Iona announced the establishment of the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences, which is now principally located on Iona’s Bronxville campus in collaboration with NewYork-Presbyterian. Connecting to its Irish heritage, the University also recently announced it is expanding abroad with a new campus in County Mayo, Ireland. A school on the rise, Iona officially changed its status from College to University on July 1, 2022, reflecting the growth of its academic programs and the prestige of an Iona education.