Make An Education Possible
I was on the subway when I learned that I was awarded a full-tuition scholarship to Columbia. I started high-fiving random people around me, celebrating. I called my family, and they just couldn’t believe it.
I was born in Colombia and moved to the United States when I was eight. I graduated high school early, and instead of going right to college, I pursued my dream to become a professional soccer player. I achieved it too, playing for a team back in Colombia, but an injury forced me to take a break and explore new things.
The School of General Studies has been the perfect fit. It’s an incredible community of non-traditional students connected to the entire university and to the larger world. I’ve worked for a New York senator and a Congressional campaign. I joined Professor Joseph Stieglitz’s think tank on international development. I attended conferences at Renmin University in China on a fellowship. I even founded Columbia Private Equity Group, a student-run organization that gives insights into private equity as an investment process and career path.
The Program of Academic Leadership and Service (PALS) scholarship was key to making all of this happen for me. The service component makes the scholarship unique in that it asks recipients to serve others as well. We’ve worked with local high school students, inviting them to the University and providing mentorship so that they too might one day attend Columbia.
I’ve learned about worlds I’d never imagined and faced challenges that have made me understand myself in new ways. Columbia has provided such a wonderful platform. I feel like I can just fly from here.