A story of dreams and opportunities
What happens when dedicated and motivated students are awarded a scholarship? Find out about the stories of some of the high-school students from Pacayacu, Ecuador.
Studying is the road to fulfilling your dreams. Sixteen-year-old Carlos Salinas, a student at the Pacayacu Educational Unit, dreams of becoming an industrial mechanical engineer "and setting up my own industrial machine repair shop." Oscar Benavides, seventeen, also wants something along the same lines: "I want to be better every day so I can have a degree and my own business."
We are in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon, attending the award ceremony for the Roberto Rocca scholarships. It’s a very special moment as it’s the first time that these awards have been made outside of Argentina by Tecpetrol. Its protagonists are a group of eighteen second-year students at Pacayacu high school. Eighteen lives, eighteen stories. Like the one fifteen-year-old Jhimmy Mulman Lalangui, tells, a computer science enthusiast. “I live with my three sisters and my mother. Both she and my father support us in any way they can. I go to classes in the morning and in the afternoon I help her at the stall she runs at the market.”
But, he adds, this is not where he sees his future playing out. “My goal is to study and work hard to pay for a university degree, as having a degree will help me get a good job and achieve a stable living for me and my family. Knowledge is essential to succeed in life, without forgetting humility and effort.”
The Roberto Rocca scholarships are about inclusion in two ways. On the one hand, they reward merit, and on the other, they fulfill an upwards social mobility function. That was the reason why Carlos Daniel Salinas Cordones applied, as, “this motivated me to get help so I could continue my studies and be able to buy materials and travel to school.”
Darwin Vega, Community Relations Specialist in Quito, tells Tecpetrol Hoy that, on paper, the program was much smaller, a pilot experience, but it blossomed into something else: "It caused a lot of expectation because this type of proposal is not common in our area," he explains during the award ceremony for the scholarships and diplomas.
And he’s not the only person to feel the excitement. The emotion of students and parents fills the air during the entire event. Darwin smiles and adds with enthusiasm that what he liked the most were seeing the beaming smiles of the students and their families. Francisco do Pico, Country Director of Tecpetrol Ecuador, agrees as, “It's always incredibly rewarding to be able to help our communities, especially when it comes to education, and it's so nice to get to know them personally. Our aim is to continue with the program in the coming years, accompanying both school and children, and we hope to gradually expand this initiative.”
Because reality without dreams would be dull and dreary: that’s the thing about the future, motivation and planning. "I want to study and earn a degree so I can achieve all the things I dream of, not only in material terms. I want my family to feel proud of me, especially my mother, who supports me and is my greatest reason to keep going," smiles Erika Nevarez Restrepo, who is seventeen. At her side, Carlos also entertains dreams he wants to fulfill. “I want the best for my parents, to give them a good life, to be a great source of pride for my family, to graduate from university and be recognized and successful. I strive every day to achieve what I want so much."