Social justice is a priority for Abe Romo, a senior engineer with Puget Sound Energy and Seattle University graduate.

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 Social justice is a priority for Abe Romo, a senior engineer with Puget Sound Energy. The Seattle University graduate took a five-month leave of absence from his job to put his principles to work as a volunteer, including a stint at the 2014 Homeless World Cup in Santiago, Chile.

Nations around the world are represented at the Homeless World Cup by teams of homeless men and women, with 100,000 involved each year. Founded in 2001, the event uses soccer—or football, to most of the world—to inspire homeless people to change their lives.

“It’s amazing to see that a lot of people come out to cheer on homeless people,” Romo says. “And that concept really empowers those individuals and you see that their team is like family to them.”

Changing lives resonates with Romo. His family emigrated from Mexico to the United States when he was 11.

“Starting over in the U.S. for my family was a pretty big challenge,” Romo says. “So I started working I think when I was 13. My parents encouraged my brothers and I to work in the fields a little bit. So we picked cherries and were out in the sorting facilities. They wanted to give us a real taste of what people that immigrated into this country go through.”

Hard work and perseverance paid off for Romo, who found himself at Seattle University, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering. The experiential learning environment of Seattle U helped prepare Romo for his career as a senior engineer at PSE, where he manages a program to prevent natural gas explosions.

“I would say my whole university experience allowed me to tune in on my ‘soft skills.’ These soft skills — or people skills — have been instrumental for me in my professional life. I learned to be a good communicator and clearly share my ideas with others as well as how to really listen and aim to understand things,” he explains. “SU empowered me to question things, take action and be bold. This combination has allowed me to advance in my career and also in my personal life.”

Romo’s connection to the university remains strong, both as an alumnus of the Costco Scholars program and the College of Science and Engineering, where he returns to give presentations to incoming students.

And what’s Romo’s advice for these students?

“Devote time to really think about what you want to do and what impact you can have. Just get involved in worthwhile things and have a great time. College is life changing and surely you will make some great connections there.”

Seattle University is celebrating 125 years of Jesuit education, high-powered academics and empowering leaders to do the greatest good locally and globally. Learn more at SU125.com.