Salvador Gomez-Colon ’21, Former Student Body Co-President and Climate Activist Returns to Campus for All-School Meeting Speech

Sal spoke on finding inspiration to make change in Friday’s All-School Meeting.

Salvador Gómez-Colón ’21, the former 2020-2021 Student Body Co-President, is now an internationally recognized humanitarian and climate resilience advocate. During All-School Meeting (ASM) on April 27, Gómez-Colón kicked off Earth Week by talking about his experience with climate fundraising and activism, and our roles in the international community and in protecting our ecology.

Starting off his talk, Gómez-Colón reminisced about his Andover experience with ASMs in the past. He spoke on his motivation for coming back to campus to give his speech, and how he hoped to deliver a meaningful message to students coming from a recent alum like himself. 

“Returning to campus to deliver an All-School Meeting address has been on my bucket list since practically the first ASM I attended in fall of 2018, but I was not expecting to do so when I still recognize so many of you… During ASMs, if I felt I had something better to do, whether that be submitting a last-minute discussion post for my English 200 class or maybe rearranging my home screen, I would sit in the back corner over there… After going through that rabbit hole while drafting this speech on how that’s not the example I want to set, I realize this ASM is the universes way of challenging me to engage that back corner,” said Gómez-Colón during his speech.

Explaining what drove him to climate activism and his work, he continued, “Shrouded in this sorrow, the desolation that plagued Puerto Rico had a purpose, tenuous as it may have seemed. For the people’s sake, and the planet’s sake, I had to keep going… There was too much work to do, too much ground to cover. I felt that I had to go beyond and grow ‘light and hope’ into an effort that reached the entire island, and six months later, I had done so.” 

Gómez-Colón detailed his journey from Puerto Rico to Andover, and what motivated him to pursue Andover. He emphasized the value of “Youth from Every Quarter” and its role on the Andover campus throughout the school’s history.

“I felt guilty for leaving the island that needed me behind, but I realized that Andover would open up opportunities to expand my impact beyond Puerto Rico. In the fall of 2018, I took to the skies over the Atlantic, arriving here in Massachusetts, thanks to the Barbara Landis-Chase scholarship: Youth from Every Quarter. We hear this phrase ‘Youth from Every Quarter’ pretty often here at Andover, it being one of our core tenants. Such were the words that Samuel Phillips Jr. inscribed in our constitution when he established this bastion of American secondary school education,” said Gómez-Colón.

Gómez-Colón spoke on how Andover had changed throughout its history, referring back to the times where Andover was a predominantly white, male, and socioeconomically privileged. 

“Initially, [‘Youth from Every Quarter’ with requisite qualifications] meant no students but white, wealthy Anglo-Saxon Protestants. But it did not matter to me that [Samuel Phillips Jr.] never envisioned or imagined someone like me attending this institution. The winds have changed [and] taken hold since the days of old Sam Phil and I felt grateful for my privilege. Basking in it, and recognizing this type of opportunity would be formative, I forged ahead,” said Gómez-Colón. 

Star Nunez ’26, a member of Alianza Latina, the on-campus Latine affinity group, felt particularly inspired by the ASM speech delivered by Gómez-Colón. Nunez expressed how she felt empowered by Gómez-Colón’s story, and how it motivated her to potentially explore areas of activism that she was interested in on-campus.

“He really inspired me, especially as a person on this campus who is a part of the POC community, being half-Puerto Rican [myself], it really resonated with me and made me feel more empowered to engage on campus with climate change groups and the environment. His project and dream helped open my perspective on possible future plans that I myself could make and achieve on this campus,” said Nunez in an interview with The Phillipian.