Nearly 50 years after Sergio Serrano graduated from Colegio San Viator in Bogotá, Colombia, he hasn’t forgotten the Viatorians who shaped him.
Serrano carved out a successful career as an environmental engineer, specializing in ground water hydrology. When he left the colegio, he earned an engineering degree at Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, before earning his masters and Ph.D at universities in Canada.
He worked in atomic energy in Canada, before establishing a distinguished career in academics, teaching at both the University of Kentucky and Temple University in Philadelphia, where he now is a professor emeritus of engineering and applied mathematics.
Now retired and living amid the mountains in western South Carolina, he wrote to the Viatorian Community with the hopes of reaching his former teacher, Fr. John Pisors, CSV.
“During these strange times, when isolation is required, I began pondering about life and the people who influenced me — and your name kept coming up,” Serrano wrote to Fr. Pisors. “As I remember, you always supported our aspirations for science, math and philosophy. You always took our ambitions seriously, which to other people may have seemed like unrealistic dreams by immature adolescents.”
Specifically, Serrano credited Fr. Pisors with forming ‘La Sociedad Cientifica Viatoriana’ and ‘El Club de Matematicas,’ or the math and science clubs, and working with students passionate about math and science after school hours. Through working with Fr. Pisors, they learned about computer programming and accompanied him to the computer lab at the University of Los Andes to run some of their programs.
“It was a remarkable accomplishment at the time,” Serrano says.
Fr. Pisors remains in Colombia, more than 50 years after he first arrived. Now 80 and retired, he continues to advise faculty members on their English as they teach core subjects at the bilingual school.
“It was very encouraging to hear that my name kept coming back, thinking about people who influenced you,” Fr. Pisors wrote. “And I sure do remember those advanced math classes after school hours, which the 12 of you enjoyed as much as I did.”
Mostly, Serrano says, he wanted to thank Fr. Pisors for the example that he set for his students, day in and day out.
“Your example was instrumental in us becoming scientists and engineers,” Serrano wrote. “Throughout life, God sends you influential people, mentors. You were our mentor in this regard.
“The purpose of this is not to make you uncomfortable,” he added. “On the contrary, I wish to express my sincerest gratitude for everything you did for us — and said to us — and just simply for your example.”