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Fourth-year Aaron Ojalvo Relishes Grand Tour of Monticello, U.Va. and the Humanities

Published May 19, 2015 in Students

By: Robert Hull | University Communications

As a high school senior touring the University of Virginia for the first time, Aaron Ojalvo had a revelation.

He was carrying a copy of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” which he was reading at the time. Five different people – perfect strangers – stopped him to talk about Shelley’s classic novel.

“That kind of academic environment just blew my mind,” Ojalvo said. “It was just this wonderful literary exchange between casual strangers.

“The intellectual life of the Academical Village is so ingrained in us we sometimes take it for granted. But outsiders to U.Va., as I was then, don’t take it for granted.”

Almost four years later, Ojalvo was sitting in a rocking chair in front of his room on the Lawn absorbing the autumnal beauty of the Academical Village. Changing seasons were something he wasn’t used to seeing while growing up in Florida.

“What got me was the beauty of the place, the power of the place,” he said. “This space has so much history, which you don’t find much in South Florida.”

We talk about Jefferson like he’s still around here today,” he said. “That had a big impact on me when I was looking at schools, and I decided to really delve into it when I got here. I wanted to figure out what all the buzz was about.”

Ojalvo was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and his parents emigrated to the United States when he was 3. While in high school in Coral Springs, his parents allowed him to apply to just one out-of-state university for financial reasons.

“If not for scholarship support and AccessUVA, I simply wouldn’t be here,” said Ojalvo, who will graduate May 16 with a double major in English and in political and social thought.

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