Student Spotlight: Asmin Jarael de León Gramajo’s personal journey with Advance at URL

By Alejandro Paredes

July 5, 2021

I am a scholarship recipient from a rural village, El Rodeo, in Quetzaltenango. I graduated in 2010, with a high school degree a\in Industry and Automotive Mechanics from the Instituto Nacional Técnico Industrial in San Carlos Sija. With a lot of effort and desire to improve, I came to study at the Technical Training Center of the Foundation for the Integral Development of Socioeconomic Programs (FUNDAP) in the city of Quetzaltenango, where I obtained a non-university technical degree in Professional Cooking (2015-2017). It was there that I was selected to apply for the Advance Program scholarship with Rafael Landívar University (URL) where I had the opportunity to study in the University Technician in Hotel Administration and Gastronomy degree program. With the Advance Program scholarship, one of my dreams to continue studying and to obtain a university degree was fulfilled. I could not have done it on my own because I did not have the necessary financial resources to continue my education. The scholarship covered my tuition, books, internet, lodging, transportation, study tours, food, and cooking tools and equipment. This allowed me to dedicate one hundred percent of my energy to studying.
When I started my studies at URL, I was very shy because I only knew a few classmates in my program. Little by little, I made more friends, and we really enjoyed the time studying together, especially the practical courses such as the cooking course, where my classmates always wanted to partner with me. In other courses, I struggled since I had not taken intensive courses related to numbers and administration for some years. With the support in Mathematics and Accounting from the university, I began to understand more and gained more of a love for numbers. I learned that numbers will always accompany me in my professional career which ended my fear of numbers. In each course and study tour, I learned new topics that strengthened my capacity. Everything went well in my first two years (2018-2019), until 2020, which was a year of many changes. We had to adapt to the new study modalities, and it was sad to say goodbye to our classmates one day, not knowing that I was no longer going to see them physically in a classroom, but only virtually. So far, we have not seen each other in person since. From this abrupt change—going from sharing with my colleagues in person to having nothing more than virtual contact—I also learned a lot. I know that technology is advancing every second, and we must go along with it. I am now looking for a job that allows me to help my family, but above all, to contribute my knowledge to my community. I am grateful to the government of the United States, USAID, and the Advance Program for the opportunity they have given me. It is not only about the economic motive, but also about the pride and satisfaction that they have supported me in such difficult moments. This support has contributed to my ability to achieve my dream, and with excellent grades. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the motto of the university that also opened the doors for me to realize this dream: “we enter to learn and we leave to serve.”

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