Much of the time, great opportunities sit right in front of us and we have no idea. Instead, we prioritize things that we will never benefit from. There are literally millions of options that can help us grow as students, professionals and people, yet for some reason we don’t want to. Maybe that one big opportunity will never return to our doorstep, so we better open the door!
A few weeks ago, Juan Camilo Jimenez, a student from UNITEC Honduras, received some eagerly awaited news. Fundación Botín, a social development NGO from Spain, awarded Juan with a scholarship to become part of a group of young people throughout Latin America who run a program “Fortalecimiento de la Función Pública en América Latina” (Strengthening Public Services in Latin America). Thousands of students from many countries throughout the continent applied for scholarships, but only 32 have the privilege to be part of the program, which Juan Camilo was accepted for and is Honduras’s sole representative.
The program aims to promote development in the region through a network of highly trained public servants with a true commitment for people’s welfare. The program will begin on October 2, 2015, at Brown University, New England, then go to Spain and then finish in Brazil on November 18. During their visit to Brazil, students will volunteer at the Getulio Vargas Foundation.
How did you hear about the scholarship being offered at Fundación Botín?
Midway through 2014, I saw a video of Fundación Botín on YouTube talking about “Fortalecimiento de la Función Pública en América Latina” scholarship. I only saw 30 seconds of the video and I was eager to know more. That night I went to sleep much later than usual, as I was so dedicated to investigating more about the program that gripped my attention so much. I went on the organization’s website, watched more videos and obtained as much information as I could regarding the grant. The dream began that day, and set me with something to aim for in 2015.
What motivated you to apply for the program?
I have always considered myself a person who wants to change Honduras and the world, but I have always thought to achieve this needs as much preparation as possible. This scholarship gave so many opportunities I need to achieve my goals.
I was 100% sure I wanted to apply for the program, but I must confess that I had a few doubts and thought that there must be so many applications being made throughout Latin America, and much better candidates than myself. I had decided not to tell my parents, nor my friends, about applying for the scholarship, so you can imagine their surprise and confusion on that morning of June 23, when I said, “Good morning! In a couple of months I’m going to USA, Spain and Brazil.”
What difficulties did you have during the application process?
Basically, the application process consists of an online form (very extensive and complete), documentation from the university where you study, official evidence and certificates, a video that has to be uploaded on YouTube, and then an interview on Skype with members of the foundation in Spain. Making the video was not too difficult, but it was challenge, which meant explaining how I would change the world around me in just one minute.
I remember starting the recording of the video a few weeks in advance with the university’s support, and with one day before the deadline, the editing manager called me to say that they couldn’t find my video anywhere and I have to return to do it immediately. I was in shock, looking a bit disheveled, in normal clothes and not really in the right mental state to do all this again. I recorded the video and we used the first takes. I believe that everything happens for a reason and I dare say that this video was better than the original.
What influenced you to study International Relations and follow your goals?
The reason I study International Relations and follow these goals is because I want to create change in my country and the world. When deciding which career path I should take, I felt that International Relations gave me a good basis to bring about those changes. I feel that my life would not be the same if it were for my goals. No doubt they have made me mature and grow as a person.
What advice do you have for other students in the Laureate Network?
Don’t let anyone compromise your goals; follow your dreams! If someone says to you that you can’t do it, show them that you can. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, because they generally only present themselves once in your life. Study and prepare yourself to fulfill your goals: this is vital to bring change to your society and our world.
Opportunities are there to be taken, seized upon and take advantage of, but it ultimately depends on you. There are many ways to find out about these types of programs, and if you set your mind to it, with determination and discipline, you too can participate. Whatever your background, you can help develop your country, which needs young people like yourself who are prepared and eager to learn. So do not close the door to opportunities. Search for them, knock on doors, and be sure that more than one will open.
Have you participated or volunteered in any social projects? Do have a similar dream to Juan Camilo? For more information on scholarships at Fundación Botín visit the organization’s website. If you are interested in following in Juan Camilo’s path, visit your university to see the International Relations programs available or UNITEC Honduras homepage.
Juan Camilo is from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and is passionate social problems in his country and around the world. This ultimately led him to choose a career in International Relations, which is he studying at UNITEC Honduras. At the age of 20, he has been involved in different activities for self-growth, but also for his community. He is currently the president of the Student Council of International Relations at his university, volunteering in various social projects and he is an intern at UNAIDS.