My name is Barbara and I was accepted into Minerva School at KGI, the most innovative college in the world! My family cannot afford the financial expenses involved but I won’t give up. Can you help me to achieve my dream?
First of all, I want to highlight that Minerva represents a big opportunity for me. I grew up in Brazil in a very humble family. I was raised by a single mother and I had to work since I was 10 years old to help at home. I studied in public school until I got a scholarship from a private school for academic and sports merits. In high school, I was part of the sports team, class president and first in the ranking of best students. In the end, I became the first in my family to graduate from high school!
Last year, I had the opportunity to go to the UN to speak at the General Assembly! Soon after, I got a scholarship to go to Colombia to study social entrepreneurship and leadership.
And now I have the chance to be part of Minerva! I just need to find this lost piece of the puzzle.
I was born and raised in a small town (about 20 thousand inhabitants), in a rural area of inner Brazil. Since I was born into a humble family, my first job was when I was around 10 years old selling sweets on the street after my classes at public school. Since then, I believed that I could give my family a better life.
I was raised by a single mother in one of the poorest neighborhoods. My father left us when I was just an 8-months-baby. My mother never had opportunities to finish primary school, so she did everything to raise me and my older sister. She raised us working as a maid, mostly. That's why I consider my mother to be my greatest example.
>> New school and scholarship
When I was 12 years old, I started studying in the only private school in my small town with a full scholarship granted due to my academic and athletic performances. However, that came with a cost: I had to study a lot by myself at home since my colleagues were much better at school (in Brazil, public schools are known for its lack of quality and violence. On the other hand, private schools usually provide a much better education).
At the private school, I also developed important interpersonal skills such as communication, teamwork, and leadership by being part of the handball team for 6 years, elected class president for 3 years, #1 in the ranking of best students for several times, and by being an active participant in social activities along with my colleagues.
Meanwhile, during high school, I worked on weekends and holidays in order to help at home. I worked as a waitress, a shoe seller, a sales clerk, a caregiver for the elderly, a nanny, a bakery attendant, a cleaning lady, a freelancer tutor, and I even sold snacks in the middle of the Carnival ... Anyway, I did everything to survive.
By the time I was 17, I had already helped to start two business: (1) I helped my sister to start her baby-clothing business, which she manages with my help. It's a small business that helps her to raise her kids. (2) I start an educational mentoring program with my high school professor. Eventually, I had to quit (I moved to another city to attend university). He continues managing the business.
At age 18, I became the first in my family to graduate from high school. My mother and my father were not able to finish primary school due to childhood work, and none of my 8 siblings were able to finish high school (I have 1 older sister from mother side and 7 siblings from my father side). My mother was very proud of me, especially because I graduated with honors for academic excellence.
I also became the first in my family to attend college and learn a second language (I learned English on my own since I could not afford a course and now I am learning Spanish on my own as well). Once in the Brazilian college, I joined several extracurricular activities. I was part of the Student Union and the Junior Enterprise (junior enterprises are business entirely managed by undergrad students and its focus on solving business issues for small to middle entrepreneurs). Currently, I am part of the Laboratory of Bioengineering where I conduct research in the cardiovascular field with graduate students and professors.
>> International experiences at United Nations and Colombia
In 2017, I participated in two international educational events.
The first one was in June 2017, when I have the incredible opportunity to be at the United Nations General Assembly as a participant at Many Languages One World, an international contest that brings 60 young people from 26 different countries to address speeches about the SDGs in the 6 official UN languages. There, I had the opportunity to say some words about the SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) and I had the honor to be invited to make the closing speech thanking the Secretary-General Antonio Gutierrez and his Chef de Cabinet Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti on behalf of all participants. When I returned to Brazil, I gave interviews and even received two honorary awards from the city hall of my hometown and from the junior enterprise.
The second was in December 2017, in Medellin, Colombia, to participate in the Colombian Leadership Bootcamp. I had a week of intensive training in social innovation and leadership with 28 young people from 6 Latin American countries. I visited the Colombian communes (Moravia and Comuna 13) and saw incredible local leaders who worked hard to bring a social benefit to their communities. I also met with important Latin American entrepreneurs and we studied how the Medellin government, the universities and the private sector worked together to improve the city.
>> Studying abroad and my goals
After these events and due to my background, I decided to study at an American university (Minerva Schools at KGI) in search of a better education. Therefore, I learned the American college application process (that is very different from what I am used to). I worked hard to pay for the standardized tests (that are very expensive). I studied on my own for the TOEFL (score 109/120 points) and for the SAT (score 1450/1600 points). I put together all the recommendation letters and extracurricular activities the admissions asked. I did all this in less than 8 months. I was really determined to transfer to Minerva.
Although I am proud of my current university in Brazil, I have to face the reality that this place is not preparing me to do something meaningful with my life, nor preparing me to face the future. I want to do something meaningful with my life! I come from the scratch, from a dysfunctional family in a small town in an emerging country. This made me realize how some people are privileged and how some are just “made to fail”. I was one of those made to fail but I refuse it. I went against the statistics and decided to have a different future for myself and a different future for my country. I don’t want to graduate and pick the first well-paying job. I want to innovate and improve my country (and maybe the world someday). To be specific, in the short and medium term, I want to dig deep into startup movement to get experience and then finally open my startup.
>> Why Minerva?
Minerva is a new, very innovative college, founded by Ben Nelson (entrepreneur and Snapfish ex-CEO) and Stephen M. Kosslyn (former Dean of Social Sciences in Harvard and former Director of the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences in Stanford). Minerva offers students a global immersion, which means that during the 4 years of education the students live in 7 different cities (San Francisco, Seoul, Hyderabad, Berlin, Buenos Aires, London, Taipei), learning about different cultures and using their knowledge to solve real problems of the cities in which they live.
Minerva also has a very well-structured curriculum that focuses on preparing students to succeed in an era of global uncertainty. Besides mathematics, writing and Python, in the first year students are required to succeed in four core competencies — thinking critically, thinking creatively, communicating effectively, and interacting effectively. All those competencies will be put on practice in every city. In Minerva, I want to major in Business and Computer Science and take several extra classes in Social Science. I think these topics will help me get even closer to my goals.
Minerva’s website: https://www.minerva.kgi.edu/
However, there is a cost to study at Minerva. I got a scholarship and some savings, but what I have is not enough. I'm doing everything I can to get the money I need: in addition to the scholarship, I've already made a working agreement with Minerva, I'm working, and my friends and family are also helping me. I scheduled an interview on the radio, I have been interviewed by a newspaper, and my church will help me by making a donation campaign.
I did a financial plan and I calculate that, for the first year, I am going to need more $9,991.00. This value was calculated taking into consideration: cost-of-living in San Francisco, food, tuition, visa, school supplies, flights, and taxes (GoGetFunding and PayPal tax their users).
I'm counting on your help! Thank you!