This is a story about a rising Revere role model whose parents came to the United States from Colombia.
Juan Diego Jaramillo – who also goes by “JD” – is the son of Vicente and Gladys Jaramillo. His father came to the United States in 1986. His mother arrived a few years later. They met in East Boston and were married in 1983. Juan, 23, has two older sisters, Marisol, and Viviana. The family eventually moved to Revere.
Mayor Brian Arrigo recently named JD Jaramillo to his staff as an aide. A 2020 graduate of the Ivy League’s Columbia University in New York City, Jaramillo arrived as the Arrigo administration and the city continues to confront COVID-19 and its effect on all residents.
Jaramillo had previously interned in Mayor Arrigo’s office during his summer and winter breaks from college.
What colleagues and associates have discovered is that JD Jaramillo is extremely bright, articulate, and personable and loves this city. He is bilingual, an asset with this city’s diverse population.
Grades K-8 in the Revere Schools
JD Jaramillo started his pre-school education at CAPIC Head Start at the Irene O’Connell Center on Nahant Avenue, Revere. He attended kindergarten through fifth grade at the Garfield School and grades six through eight at Rumney Marsh Academy.
“I do remember my teacher, Rosa, at CAPIC,” said Jaramillo. “She’s actually still there.”
He has a vivid memory of his years in the Revere public schools, recalling the dedicated teachers who had such a positive influence in his formative years.
“I have to start with my first-grade teacher, Miss [Linda] LaCascia. She actually gave me the name ‘JD’ – she was very supportive. I remember those days a lot.
“In third grade, I had Miss O’Brien, who was great as well,” continued Jaramillo. “I also remember middle school where I had Mr. DiMarino, who was wonderful. Miss Lucy Pirkey was an amazing teacher. Mr. Hart was also amazing.”
Jaramillo credited the RMA’s innovative pre-Advanced Placement program for having a key role in his pursuit of academic excellence.
On to Prep School
Jaramillo and his family made a decision to look at private schools for his secondary education. He opted to attend Milton Academy, one of the most prestigious prep schools in the nation.
“I really didn’t know much about anything about boarding schools or private schools,” said Jaramillo. “My sisters had been at North Cambridge Catholic but that’s a very different kind of school than Milton. So I googled ‘best private schools’ – I guess I was very confident at that time and it worked out. I got a really good scholarship to be a boarding student.”
Jaramillo described his first days at Milton Academy as “quite a shock.’’
“After being in Revere, it was like a whole another world,” he recalled. “I lived in the same dorm [Forbes House] all four years. Just on my freshman floor my first year, there were two students from China, one student from Korea, and students from many different states. In my class, I was the only Latino boy and there was one other Latina girl.”
Milton Academy students are required to play sports and Jaramillo competed in three years of football, four years of swimming (where he was team MVP), and one year of lacrosse.
Academically, he was a force, becoming the class valedictorian and receiving the Frank D. Millet Scholarship (for high moral integrity) and the William Bacon Lovering (for leadership and service to the school community).
He wrote for one of the school newspapers and performed in the acapella and jazz groups. He was a member of the Latino Student Association.
Choosing Columbia University
Harvard University was to be his college destination, but he visited Columbia University and New York City and his decision was made.
“I stepped on the Columbia campus with my family and it felt like a very different atmosphere, a lot more lively and a little bit more modern than the idea I had of Harvard,” said Jaramillo. “I applied to Columbia early decision and it worked out. I received my degree in American Studies.”
He enjoyed attending four years of college in New York City. “I didn’t get into the city as much as one would think because the stress of schoolwork was so intense. The school had some great programs. I attended a few operas, concerts, and museums, but I actually didn’t get to see a Broadway play.”
He spent a summer working in an internship at the Correctional Association of New York, which is a non-profit that monitors and performs oversight of the New York state prison system, corresponds with incarcerated individuals, and advocates on their behalf.
Interning at Revere City Hall
JD Jaramillo graduated from Columbia University in May, 2020, spending the last part of his college career taking classes remotely due to the coronavirus.
During his college years, he worked in the City of Revere’s brand new 311 Office at City Hall in 2017.
“I met Mayor Arrigo and I started coming back to Revere the next summer and during winter breaks working in the Mayor’s Office as an intern,” said Jaramillo.
He was living in Los Angeles following his graduation and began applying for positions of employment. He reconnected with Mayor Arrigo and heard that there was an opening on his staff.
“Eventually it worked out. I started full time as an aide to Mayor Arrigo at the end of September,” said Jaramillo.
He is excited about the future of Revere. “I think Mayor Arrigo’s administration has done an amazing job of modernizing operations,” said Jaramillo. “I’m very young so I can’t say I have a lot of experience or knowledge of previous administrations, but just in terms of making things professional, making things friendly, opening things up to the whole city – there’s definitely a deficit in terms of what aspects of the population are represented at the government level, and that’s ideally not how it should be – anyone from the city should feel comfortable coming into City Hall the same way that some people are already empowered to do so. I think that’s something that Mayor Arrigo understands and has been focusing on as well.”
Setting a Good Example for Others
Does JD Jaramillo consider himself a role model for Latino students?
“I would like to think so,” he said humbly. “My identity is definitely something that I didn’t think about too much when I was in Revere, but it’s something that became very important to me when I went to Milton and especially Columbia, getting a look of how other parts of society function and dealing with very wealthy people and very influential people. So it was something sort of very important to me and that propelled me that I was coming from a background that wasn’t very represented, that wasn’t very resourced in the same way.
“I wouldn’t say that there’s a specific way that I’m trying to reach out to Latino students. I’m not at that point yet, but I’d like to say that I hope younger kids can look up to me and I can give them advice on a variety of things,” said Jaramillo.
He is focused on “doing as great a job as I can in the Mayor’s Office, learning as much as I can about the City. “It’s been great meeting so many people. A lot of the professionals at City Hall are very accommodating. I’m really just trying to learn as much as I can.”
Down the road, Juan Diego “JD” Jaramillo said he would like to attend law school and pursue elective office.
He expressed his gratitude to his mother, who works in banquet services, and his father, who is a produce manager at a grocery store in Boston.
“We’re very proud. They’ve been very supportive my whole life so I’m just thankful to have been in several environments where I felt I could thrive – at home, at Rumney Marsh, at Milton, at Columbia, and I’m getting the semblance of the same kind of environment here at City Hall,” said Jaramillo. “I try to make impacts in the small way that I’m able to make impacts.”