Ecuador Student Profiles

Profiles for our Ecuadorian students are still coming in and we will update this page as they become available. Below we profile the students whose information we have on file.

Valeria Cristina Aguaiza Guerrero
West Texas A&M University '12

Valeria Cristina Aguaiza Guerrero Cristina undoubtedly walked through the barrier of decision making and finances as well as fighting across the lines of language to communicate her dream by clinching a full scholarship to study at West Texas A&M University. Cristina's experience as an IB (International Baccaleaurate) student taught her the value of a fight as the intensive program tears down the genius of its students.

In her early years Cristina volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, CENIT, Tutor Service, and School Teaching to feed her passion for community service as a way of giving back to her community. She was also a member staff in Participacion Ciudadana, SOS Student Radio and Dance Club in her country. In addition, Cristina was a swimmer in Metropolitano Club for more than a year and got two scholarships to study English at Fulbright Commission and Portuguese at IBEC (Instituto Brasileiro Equatoriano).

Cristina was one of three Ecuadorian students were selected to participate in a USA department of education program called Opportunity Grants that help students take the first steps to apply universities in the USA, paying all the required application expenses. Cristina hopes to finish her studies at West Texas A&M University and continue working on her mission to help others.

Presently, Cristina has received an invitation to be a member of Lions International Club, but she will still keep in mind that all she has achieved to date was only breaking barriers, and that it is only the beginning of much greater things in store for her. Cristina is an Environmental Science major.

Francisco Abad
East Texas Baptist University '12

Francisco Pancho Abad "It does not matter how bad the circumstances are looking, God has the last word on this." These were the words that encouraged Pancho to keep trying to accomplish his goal - to go to college in the United States.

Francisco "Pancho" Abad was born in the highest capital in the world, Quito, Ecuador. Pancho graduated from "Sebastián de Benalcázar" High School in Quito, one of the best high schools in the country. He entered to the International Baccalaureate program as one of the 33 chosen participants. This elite program was targeted only for the best students of one of the best high schools. The competition for spots was intense. This program changed Pancho's life and gave him a passion for service. During his junior year, together with his best friend, he started a project named "building the future II" as a follow up of the first phase that was executed on his sophomore year. With no help from any teacher or coordinator, they raised US$3500 and went with the whole class to build restrooms in a poor province for a school that was studying under the worst conditions ever imagined. During the fund-raising process, Pancho and his classmates were part of 500 applicants for the national contest "Youth Ambassadors". Pancho won a spot and had the chance to represent Ecuador in the United States with other 14 young leaders in 2007.

Youth Ambassadors changed his life and opened a thousand doors for this former basketball player. In 2007, he received a scholarship to attend the International Leadership Summit that was created to empower graduate students and business leaders. He was the only high school student attending and had the chance to talk to world leaders such as Gallup CEO Michael Sessions (youngest mayor in the world) and the UN Leadership University President. In 2008 Pancho was part of a three person delegation that represented Ecuador at the congress "CENIT" sponsored by the Andean Community of Nations. All this helped Pancho to be selected for the USAP/Opportunity Grant Program. This made his dream of going to study in the United States possible. Even when he could communicate in English better than the majority of his class, his grammar was not good enough since he never could afford an English course to learn more than what was taught in a public high school. Pancho did not make it during the first applications but he did not lose hope and kept fighting to achieve his goal.

After a hard time deciding where to go, Pancho chose to attend East Texas Baptist University without knowing that it was going to be the right place to be for his Undergraduate degree. After realizing how many opportunities he has in this place, he decided to pursue a double major on Political Science and International Studies with a minor on Leadership. He had to do all what a freshman has to do in just one semester, for he was given 17 credit hours because of his International Baccalaureate. Pancho started attending the Student Leadership Institute, and joined the Student Government Association his three first semester. During the summer Pancho went to Honduras on a service project that inspired him to organize a project like that in Ecuador. He had the chance to represent his University and country in the International Partners Conference on Higher Education and International Volunteerism in Washington DC where he was a keynote speaker on how to overcome international leadership barriers. The Ecuadorian delegation won an award for their good organization and efforts. Pancho had the privilege to attend the American Model United Nations on representation of his University being part of the 1st committee on disarmament.

During his third semester, Pancho ran in the SGA presidential election and won by a big margin. In addition, he started the project of Spanish Travel Study which brought students from ETBU to his hometown to study Spanish as a may term class and do cultural exchange and social work. ETBU helped him to pay his airfare and he decided to stay in Ecuador to travel and do two internships in the Government. After a wonderful summer full of adventures, Pancho finished two internships, one in the Congress and one in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "It was an amazing experience that helped me to understand better my country and world politics" he said. During the summer, in cooperation with other Youth Ambassadors, Pancho helped the Partners of the American on hosting the USA Youth Ambassadors. After this experience, Pancho and his Ecuadorian Youth Ambassadors colleagues accomplished their dream of creating the Ecuadorian Youth Ambassador's Network. After the National Youth Ambassadors Convention, Pancho was elected unanimously as the Secretary General of the organization that will work in the most vulnerable parts of the society, trying to change a dying country from the inside.

Currently Pancho is starting his Honors Project on Latin American 21st Century Poltics, and expects to bring his organizations to the highest levels. Pancho wants to be the best well-rounded student of his university lifting his God's and Ecuador's name on high.

Jimmy Andre Solis Ramirez
University of New Orleans '13

Jimmy Andre Solis Ramirez Born in Ecuador's main city of Guayaquil, Jimmy Solis is the first member of his family to study in the States. He attended the Cristobal Colon elementary school and the Colegio Politecnico (COPOL) IB high school. Jimmy truly has quite a unique background. In his early years he lived with his family in South America, Europe because his father worked in those countries as a naval mechanical engineer. Since childhood he has learned that the world is an amalgamation of cultures.

Through the years, Jimmy became deeply involved in debate, social service and government activities. During high school he became the founder and captain of the debate team, achieving national recognition in the process. He was also the school's student government president for four consecutive years. In the 11th grade, Jimmy started a business company called Chocolino which made chocolates. The profits from the company went to single mothers to help them start their own small businesses. In his senior year, he worked in a program called Terremundo with the support of Stevens Institute of Technology that helped to detect earthquakes.

Upon his graduation as a valedictorian and the best international baccalaureate (IB) student in Ecuador, Jimmy realized that the world was more than a single classroom. He took a whole year off from school to do community service, working for the foundation Children International, IB, and UNESCO. During that time, his duty was to construct houses, teach children to read and help small villages across Ecuador, Peru and Colombia. It was in that setting that he was accepted as a USAP student and scholar of the Fulbright Commission to enter in a program called Opportunity Grants that help students take the first steps to apply to universities in the US.

As a big lover of languages, Jimmy is fluent in English, Spanish and French. Jimmy is grateful to all those who have played several important roles in his life and have helped him to get to where he is now. After graduation Jimmy pursued a Master of Public Policy in The University of Calgary in Canada through a Scholarship. After working in the venture capital scene, he decided to return to Latin America where he can use his knowledge and skills acquired for the good of his people.

Relocated in Panama, Jimmy has been working for the Swiss Bank Credit Suisse, in his spare time Jimmy donates to local villages and still perform community service. He feels proud of his region, and will continue to create innovation and progress for Latin America.

Joseph J. Solis
University of New Orleans '13

Joseph J. SolisJoseph Solis, a native of Ecuador, is the first member of his family to attend college in the United States. His story is a combination of resilience, hard work and a passion for knowledge.

After his father died when Joseph was 3, his mother had to work hard to support the family. Joseph grew up largely under the care of his grandmother and until the age of 12 lived in one of the poorest and most dangerous parts of the city. During his childhood and teenage years, Joseph showed signs of being an academic. Instead of playing outside with other children in his neighborhood, Joseph kept his evenings busy reading and studying extensively after school with his grandmother—a habit that would stay with him forever.

Despite hardships, his mother ensured he attended ‘Unidad Educativa San Agustin' elementary school and the ‘Colegio Politecnico' (COPOL) International Baccalaureate high school, a preparatory school for university and one of the best schools in his hometown, Guayaquil. Joseph's teachers always characterized him by referencing his curious mind and his desire to learn. As a teenager, Joseph enrolled in several professional certification programs as a way to stay busy after school. Always the youngest in his classes, Joseph obtained a certificate acknowledging him as a technical computer operator and a certificate in human relationships at age 12, a certificate in computer repair and network installation at age 13, a certificate in graphic and web design at age 14 and a certificate in computer programming at age 15.

The IB Diploma Program at his high school opened his eyes to his community and his future, says Joseph. As part of the program, Joseph did community service teaching in CEPRIPOL, an adult literacy program that helped adults living in neglected areas of the community to complete their elementary education. After graduating as the best international baccalaureate student in his high school, Joseph was accepted as a USAP student and a scholar of the Fulbright Commission, then entered an opportunity grants program that helps students take the first steps to apply to universities in the U.S.

Joseph was offered a scholarship that allowed him fulltime study, room and board at the University of New Orleans, where he graduated in spring 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing. Fulbright helped to cover fees during his first year at UNO.

Joseph made important contributions and became a valued member of his university community. His design and technology experience landed him a position as marketing chair of the University's Student Activities Council, an organization designed to improve student life on campus. This position, which he held for two years, provided a stipend that covered the remaining portion of his educational costs.

Joseph also joined the University's Leadership Cabinet, coordinating leadership initiatives for undergraduate students and giving educational sessions on cultural intelligence for students at UNO and other out-of-state universities.

To help with expenses, Joseph got a second job as a student worker in the University's Department of Distance Education, where he worked for one semester. Then he won a coveted student job in the University's Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing, which oversees all marketing and communications for the University.

Joseph's employers in the communications office soon noticed his talents and skills and decided to gradually increase his responsibilities. Upon graduation, Joseph was offered a full-time position in the department as a Marketing Specialist, working on market research, coordinating public relations efforts on social media and studying online behavioral analysis to improve recruitment and retention efforts.

While at UNO, Joseph also had the opportunity to work as a marketing consultant for the Consulate of Ecuador in New Orleans, where during one of his summers, he managed a regional marketing campaign aimed to continue foreign trade agreements between Ecuador and the U.S.

Working for his country was a life-changing and rewarding experience that shaped his future goals, says Joseph. He plans to use his knowledge in technology, communications and foreign cultures to return to Ecuador and work for the government's foreign service or communication offices. In his spare time, he would also like to support nonprofit organizations that help children of his native country to access better quality education.

Joseph is grateful for three weapons that allowed him to succeed: A hardworking mother, a caring grandmother, and a desire to learn.

Pedro José Hidalgo Herrera
Lamar University '14

Pedro José Hidalgo Herrera Obstacles that life imposed weren't ever a challenge for Pedro. He has always been a person who has fought for his goals and has achieved them. He always dreamed about studying abroad, but people told him that it was an impossibility, especially in the bad economic circumstance that he was in. However, regardless of what people told him, he persevered and ultimately triumphed. Now he is studying at Lamar University in Beaumont Texas on a very generous scholarship.

Pedro has accomplished many things due to his achievements during high school. He graduated from William Shakespeare High School in Tumbaco Valley, located in the capital of Ecuador, Quito. During his high school time, Pedro participated and excelded in many different activities. He was an excellent all-round student.

Pedro achieved the state championship gold medal in kickboxing and was also honored as one of the best students in his class. He demonstrated leadership by running and being elected as President of the Student Council, in which he dedicated most of his time to serve others and give in return to society. For that and more, Pedro was selected to be part of the Opportunity Grants program of the Department of State of the United States of America; program which helped him to apply and achieve one of his biggest dreams in life.

From the beginning of his student career, Pedro knew that he wanted to be an engineer. Sciences have been his priority in academics. Now, applying them in his undergraduate degree studies, he is aspiring to be an industrial engineer with the hope being to enhance many processes during his life and apply his knowledge for a better tomorrow.

Currently, Pedro is looking for more. "It's never enough" he says, and he is looking for a whole scholarship for being the best in his major, industrial engineering. It's one of his countless goals, in which, faith as always is the last thing that is lost.

Maya Muyurina Castro De La Torre
California State University '14

Maya Muyurina Castro De La Torre Maya is an indigenous Kichwa from the Andes of Ecuador. She is the third daughter of a family of five children. They are four sisters and one brother. She has had big opportunities to achieve many goals as daughter, student and most important as a person. When her mother went to work overseas she had to take her place, and suddenly she had to be in some way the mother of her two younger sisters. This apparently hard and difficult work, gave her an incredible and very different notion about life. Precisely for that, she has learned how to balance her time between entertainment, friends, responsibilities and family. Now she is experiencing a very interesting moment in her life. She is currently enrolled at California State University, Fresno majoring in Physics. She is really glad because this experience will also teach her how to be confident and strong even though she is thousands of miles away from her family, friends, culture and the general life of her country. In the same way she is pretty sure that she will succeed in her studies and in her life in general. This reaching will constitute the benefits not only to her dreams, her family's ambitions, but it will also be the path to help her society to improve.

Being at California State University in Fresno with a wonderful scholarship would break the stigmas given to the indigenous people. She knows that the walk on this tiny bridge is very difficult because the society in our context considers everything as an obstacle, specially being indigenous and woman. She will demonstrate them that every human being is equal everywhere. She is again very grateful for this opportunity given to her. She knows she won't disappoint anyone and herself in any way.

Belén Robles
University of Evansville '15

Bélen RoblesBelén graduated from Dolores Sucre High School. During her high school period she had very clear goals and always has on her mind that her education is the most important thing in her life. When she was in her sophomore year, she won a medal for being the best student out of 400 students with a perfect GPA. This helped her understand that if one puts all effort and dedication with God's help one can certainly achieve anything. Another proof to that was that she was chosen as one of the members of College Horizons Program, which is sponsored by the government of the United States. This program helps student with low economic resources to study English as a foreign language at the bi-national center (CEN).

In her junior year, she had the amazing opportunity of being travelling to the US as a Youth Ambassador, which definitely changed the perspective Belén had for life. That was the moment when she decided to study college in the United States. Belen is studying at the University of Evansville, where she hopes to major in Civil Engineering.

"Success is measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life, but by the obstacles one has overcome." This phrase said by an American educator changed the way Belén Robles viewed her life. She used to think the most important thing was her position in society, but she was totally wrong. The most important thing is what she has learned from all her mistakes and all the obstacles she has overcome.

Pamela Sánchez
James Madison University '15

Pamela SánchezPamela Denisse Sánchez Ycaza was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Since she was a child, her parents encouraged her to pursue all her dreams with effort and perseverance. She graduated from Copol, one of the best schools in the country that offers the IB Program, among the nine best students of her class.

Being part of the IB Program made a change in her life, because this gave her the opportunity to visualize a world with no barriers. Her objective was to be the first in her family to study in USA, to be the example to the younger family members. In high school she also participated in community service activities with her classmates. As a result, they made a small but important change in her community, making them more sensitive about topics like global warming and social problems. During one week, they presented about Global Warming and what residents can do in their homes to decrease the environmental impact. Finally, they organized a fashion show with clothes made from recycled materials.

"Nuestro Reto" was also essential in her life, because it helped her to appreciate patience and responsibility in a different way. The objective of this program was to interact and teach some subjects as arts, sports, math and natural sciences, to deaf kids from "Escuela Municipal de Audicion y Lenguaje". Here she learned that people are different, but this makes them special and valuable.

With the help of Opportunity funding, Pamela will have the opportunity to study International Business at James Madison University. Her future plans are to return to Ecuador, where she will establish her own imports/exports business for Ecuadorian products. Also, she would like to support an organization that gives help to deaf children.

Cyntia Andrade
Saint Thomas University '16

Cyntia AndradeCyntia Andrade is part of a hardworking and humble family that lives in the Ecuadorian Highlands. Since she was little, she has struggled against her allergies and asthma, but thanks to this condition, she has developed a strong sense of awareness of her own reality and that of those around her. Cyntia believes her "fighting spirit" arose from this and the way she found to let it out was to be extremely involved in volunteer activities. She has worked with numerous institutions, but mainly with handicapped and underprivileged people, which has taught her much about solidarity and generosity.

Cyntia was an academically excellent student, always ranking among the top in her classes, which is why she was selected to be part of the first class to implement the IB program in her city, in a collaborative effort undertaken by 6 public schools. Cyntia was also part of the Ecuadorian delegation that participated in the "Peace and Nonviolence March" in Peru, event organized by youth from Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.

In 2010, thanks to her community involvement and leadership qualities, Cyntia was also selected to participate in the "Youth Ambassadors" program; a cultural exchange experience of 3 weeks in the US funded by the US Department of State in collaboration with the non-profit organization Partners of the Americas. Subsequently, Cyntia cooperated in the creation of the Youth Ambassadors Network - RJEE in Ecuador as well. As one of the leaders of this organization, she has worked in the implementation of their projects of assistance to disabled and elder people across the country.

Finally, Cyntia was selected for the Opportunity funding program in Ecuador and worked very hard to make her dream of studying Chemistry in the US a reality. Cyntia traveled in mid-August to St. Thomas University, Miami Gardens, to start putting her dream in action. She is now very excited to be a new member of the outstanding network of USAP students.

Ana María Villagómez Cevallos
West Texas A&M University '16

Ana María Villagómez CevallosAna María Villagómez Cevallos was born in Riobamba, a city located in the heart of Ecuador. Anita graduated from "María Auxiliadora" High School in Riobamba, where she specialized in Accounting and Business Management. During her high school years, she was recognized as one of the best students, which was product of her daily effort and perseverance. Ana María represented her school in a variety of contests about Entrepreneurship and Business, winning several prizes in recognition of her innovative business ideas. She was an active member of the debate and leadership clubs as well. Ana María became the first president of the student government in her school, having proposed and initiated the first democratic election processes in her school´s history. Due to this achievement, she got a full scholarship to study English and French. Furthermore, Ana María was involved in many cultural and artistic activities; she has taken acting and piano lessons, she was one of the lead singers in her school's choir, and she was a member of the biggest and most prestigious Folkloric Ballet group in her city, with which she toured the country giving performances.

Additionally, Ana María has great desire to do volunteer work as a way to give back to the community. She was a regular volunteer at a local children's hospital, where she worked as a nurse assistant eight hours a week and during weekends, she volunteered at the Ecuadorian Railway Company as a tourist guide.

Ana María also had the amazing opportunity to travel to the US as a Youth Ambassador, representing Ecuador in the US-based exchange experience along with other 8 young leaders in 2011. This experience sealed her determination to have an education in the US and, subsequently, she applied to the Opportunity funding program, a scholarship program funded by the Department of State and administered by the EducationUSA advising center in Quito. With this sponsorship, Ana María was able to apply to several universities in the US, with the hope of earning a scholarship to fund her studies. Ana María believes education is one of the most important processes in a human being's life because it makes a big difference in your chances of attaining success. About a month ago, Ana María traveled to Canyon, Texas, to start her undergraduate degree at West Texas A&M University, where she will major in International Business. Ana María feels very grateful to God for giving her all these amazing experiences and opportunities, and to all those who believed in her skills and talents. She does not want to be just good; her goal is to be the best she can possibly be, and she can't wait to share this new adventure with her new USAP friends.

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