HERE FOR GOOD

In Our Own Words

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Laureate International Universities is the world’s leading network of higher education institutions. All of the universities in our network are rooted in the objective to be Here for Good, both in permanence and purpose. We operate our organization with both principles in mind and strive to create a thriving network that will have a lasting positive impact on our students and the communities we serve. Our institutions are educating students in important fields like medicine, education, business, engineering and law to meet real-world needs of employers and communities in an increasingly interconnected, global society.

Our students and several generations of alumni are developing innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. In 2006, through a partnership with the International Youth Foundation (IYF), we launched YouthActionNet® programs around the world to recognize young social entrepreneurs. Starting with the Premio UVM program in Mexico, YouthActionNet® programs have been launched in Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Honduras, Peru, Spain, and Turkey. This initiative has provided mentoring, financial support and networking opportunities to more than 450 emerging social entrepreneurs. We also work with IYF to support the Laureate Global Fellows program, an annual initiative that recognizes and supports 20 social entrepreneurs from around the world who have pioneered innovative solutions to pressing issues. This important relationship with IYF has empowered Laureate students and young people around the world to achieve their dreams and make a positive impact on the lives of others.

This is a journal of stories from our students and graduates. These narratives share universal themes: an enduring commitment to academic excellence, innovation, social mobility, and civic leadership. These stories are proof that with a strong educational foundation, there is no limit to what can be accomplished.

Seven Stories of Laureate Students and Alumni Making a Difference

David Estela

Student:
Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas (UPC), Peru
Place of birth:
Lima, Peru
Age:
22
Major:
Medicine
Expected year of graduation:
2014
Student; President, CUMIS (Campamento Universitario Multidisciplinario de Investigación y Servicio)
FOCUS ON: HEALTH SCIENCES/
MEDICINE
19 Laureate medical schools around the world
240,000+ Patients received free or inexpensive medical care at Laureate clinics in 2012
Studying Medicine- To Help My Country

I first learned about Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas (UPC) through informational sessions when I was in high school. I wanted to be a doctor, and UPC had just launched a medical school that included an early clinical training component. For example, four days a week, students go into hospitals and clinics to practice what we learn in the classroom. So UPC was a perfect fit for me.

Shortly after I arrived at UPC, I became involved with the university’s chapter of Multidisciplinary University Group for Research and Service (Campamento Universitario Multidisciplinario de Investigación y Servicio—CUMIS) and was elected president. CUMIS is a national organization that brings students from the different health sciences programs together to help local communities. One of my jobs with CUMIS is to coordinate with the nine chapter leaders. Each university focuses on one rural part of the country that has historically had poor access to basic, high-quality healthcare. UPC’s CUMIS chapter focuses on Atipayán, a small village in Peru’s Huaraz Province, high in the Andes, about an eight-hour drive from Lima. On a typical day our team of about 100 begins working at 4:30 a.m. We have breakfast with adult villagers, who then go into the fields to tend to the crops. Then our team goes to the village schools to provide a range of medical services to children. During our last visit, we served about 1,150 people. Our program is by far the largest in Peru. The program gives students an authentic view of life in rural parts of the country—which is so different from the hustle and bustle of Lima and our other big cities.

I also got involved with the Scientific Society of Peruvian Medical Students (Sociedad Científica Médico Estudiantil Peruana—SOCIMEP). The organization was founded in 1992 to give Peru’s medical students more exposure to cutting-edge research. Each year, we organize three conferences in Peru that attract leading researchers from around the world who present projects that will shape the future of medicine.

After UPC, I want to study outside Peru. It’s so important that I get international experience and understand how other countries manage their healthcare systems. These insights will allow me to return to Peru and help build a world-class healthcare system. This is my dream.

David Estela
David Estela
David Estela
Dayana Dixon
Dayana Dixon
Dayana Dixon
Expanding Quality Dental Care

I knew a long time ago that I wanted to be a dentist. I picked Universidad Latina de Costa Rica (ULatina) because of its great labs, campus facilities, and the practical approach of its dental program and faculty. As a student, I learned how to become a healthcare provider, but also about the great disparities in access to Costa Rica’s health system. My final year thesis focused on understanding the characteristics of the homeless—drug addiction, unemployment—and how this impacted their oral health. The research opened my eyes, and made me want to do something to help improve access to dental care.

After I graduated from ULatina in 2009, I came into contact with VIDA, Volunteers for Intercultural and Definitive Adventures. It’s a nonprofit organization that brings volunteer students, dentists, physicians and veterinarians from around the world to Central America. After an initial interview, VIDA sent me on two trips to test my skills, and see how I adjusted to rural conditions. I loved the experience, and, thankfully, they keep inviting me back. There’s something special about each trip. The most memorable recent trip was last summer. Over the course of 15 days, we went to two reserves for indigenous people in Costa Rica along the Atlantic coast. It was the first time I’d visited a reserve, even though I had spent part of my childhood in Limón, a nearby province. The younger volunteers helped show people the basics of dental hygiene—for example, how to properly brush teeth, and floss. I got to do the more complex work, like dental reconstructions and filling cavities.

This is a very different experience from my practice, which is located in a middle class neighborhood in Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose. Dental services are widely available in Costa Rica. But there’s a wide gap between good and poor dental care. Many dental practices are cutting costs, which is impacting quality. I learned to take each patient’s needs into consideration, and create a relaxing, welcoming environment in my clinic. Some customers can only pay for dental services over time—and that’s okay. I would never turn down a patient. I am constantly looking for ways to improve my services.

My practice keeps me very busy, but I try to go on one or two trips with VIDA every month. Last year, I completed 22 trips. Every time I get the opportunity to go back to a village and see the people we’ve helped, I become a better dentist—and a better person.

Dayana Dixon

Graduate:
Universidad Latina de Costa Rica (ULatina)
Place of birth:
San Jose, Costa Rica
Age:
28
City of residence:
San Jose, Costa Rica
Major:
Dentistry
Year of Graduation:
2009
Manages a dental clinic in San Jose, Costa Rica; volunteers with VIDA
FOCUS ON: HEALTH SCIENCES/
MEDICINE
10,000+ Students enrolled in Laureate’s 12 dental programs in eight countries

Curtis Alston

Graduate:
Walden University, USA
Place of birth:
Boston, Mass., USA
Age:
48
City of residence:
St. Mary’s County, Md., USA
Major:
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Administrator Leadership for Teaching and Learning
Year of graduation:
2013
Assistant Principal, Lexington Park Elementary School; Founder, Gentlemen on a Mission
FOCUS ON: EDUCATION
20,000+ Students completed education degrees or specialization programs
Helping Young Men Become Leaders

I always wanted to run a school and work with young people who were considered “at risk.” I was considered “at risk.” I grew up in a single-parent family in Boston, Massachusetts. My neighborhood had a lot of drugs and violent crime. Somehow, I connected with positive male role models who countered the messages I heard in my neighborhood—and in school. Once, I told a teacher about my dream of becoming a lawyer. She told me in front of the entire class, “Because of the environment you come from, your goals are probably unattainable.” She pointed to research that said at some point in my life, I’d be incarcerated or involved in drugs. I was only 10 years old. But I wasn’t going to let her define me.

I pushed myself. I graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a bachelor’s degree in human services, which led to jobs as a bookkeeper and finance manager. In 1993, I moved to Maryland and realized I wanted to work in education. So I became a substitute teacher. Over the next few years, I tried to imagine how to help young men in neighborhoods like the one I grew up in. So in 2008, I enrolled at Walden University to get a doctorate—and to learn the skills that would help me bring innovation to the public school system. Now I’m the assistant principal at an elementary school in a Maryland community about an hour’s drive south of Washington, D.C.

Shortly after I started teaching, the principal and I walked around the school building to identify unofficial leaders. These were the guys—and some girls—who were class clowns. They probably didn’t see themselves as natural leaders. They were street smart. One student was involved in the drug trade; he memorized the schedule of every police officer who patrolled the area. Watching these students, my mission became clear. So I started Gentlemen on a Mission.

We enrolled about a dozen boys—sixth-graders mostly—and gave them leadership responsibilities. Between classes, they’d patrol the school’s hallways to make sure other students weren’t running. They patrolled school buses. On days they weren’t working with the program, they had to come to class dressed like executives—with ironed pants, a nice shirt, and tie. They’d walk into a classroom, sit in assigned seats, and have meetings on different aspects of leadership, sometimes with government, military or business officials. We wanted these young men to know about career options besides becoming a rapper or a professional basketball player. The strategy worked. There was a drastic decrease in fights, and fewer children were sent to the administrative office for disciplinary issues.

Now, we have more than 200 students and demand is growing. We’re getting calls from nearby schools about adopting the program. This is now my life’s mission: helping young men become functional members of society and dependable husbands and fathers. We’re hoping this movement grows.

Curtis Alston
Curtis Alston
Curtis Alston
Michael Teoh
Michael Teoh
Michael Teoh
Creating Opportunities for Success

I was born in Penang, on Malaysia’s western coast. My parents believed very strongly that education is key to personal and professional success, and ran a school primarily serving the less fortunate. Growing up, I wanted to be an executive managing a large company. INTI has a great reputation, so I enrolled there, hoping it’d give me proper business training.

I graduated in 2009 with a business degree, and accepted an entry-level marketing job at a Malaysian firm. But it quickly became clear that I’m not cut out for the traditional corporate path. The truth is, I’m entrepreneurial. I began thinking about how I could apply the many skills I’d gained at INTI to help others. Around the same time, I’d been meeting other aspiring young entrepreneurs. One theme emerged from these conversations: There were very few resources in Malaysia to help these entrepreneurs grow—and sustain—their projects. This led me to form Young Entrepreneurs Malaysia (YEM) in 2009 with support from many relatives and friends. The main idea for YEM is to provide project management resources and best practices standards to our country’s growing community of entrepreneurs. Now we have more than 2,000 members.

One opportunity leads to another. I was a Malaysian representative at Global Entrepreneurship Week, and I was introduced to Your Big Year—one of the world’s largest entrepreneurship competitions. Each year, Your Big Year attracts more than 45,000 competitors from 168 countries. In 2011, I was the only competitor from Southeast Asia in the semifinals—and one of the two winners. After winning the competition, I traveled to 22 countries conducting humanitarian and environmental projects. Two projects stand out. The first was in Bogotà, Colombia, helping lead about 800 college students build 500 homes for the poor. The second project was in Kenya, helping develop a lion conservation effort. We conducted educational sessions with local communities to explain why it’s in their nation’s economic interest to protect lions, which are one of the region’s primary tourist attractions. In total, the Your Big Year effort impacted more than 300,000 people. The projects showed me how entrepreneurship can help solve problems in communities around the world.

Today, most of my energy is focused on NextUpAsia, a project management company I cofounded. The main idea is to bring world-class ideas to Malaysia—and, certainly, across Asia. NextUpAsia has organized four successful TEDx events in Malaysia. I’m developing other ventures, including an Asian business website that has 40,000 regular readers. Another venture is Thriving Talents, a training company that helps a variety of institutions leverage the diverse skills of young employees. But profit isn’t my primary goal. My interests are driving conversations about social change—and, ultimately, creating opportunities that help other people succeed.

Michael Teoh

Graduate:
INTI International University & Colleges, Malaysia
Place of birth:
Penang, Malaysia
Age:
27
City of residence:
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Major:
Business
Year of Graduation:
2009
Entrepreneur
INTI International University & Colleges, Malaysia
97% of INTI graduates are employed within 6 months

Mathilde Bois-Dubuc

Graduate:
École Supérieure du Commerce Extérieur (ESCE)
Place of birth:
Paris, France
Age:
30
City of residence:
Paris, France
Major:
International Business
Year of graduation:
2005
General Director of SEED Foundation
FOCUS ON: BUSINESS
200,000+ Students pursuing a business degree Across Laureate’s network
Ending Poverty And Hunger Through Collective Action

I chose École Supérieure du Commerce Extérieur (ESCE) because it offers opportunities—like international internships—that few schools provide. I’ve always been interested in learning about other cultures. During the second year of my program, ESCE connected students with career consultants. I took the opportunity to reflect on my goals, and concluded I wanted to use the knowledge and skills acquired at ESCE to make a difference in society. So I started exploring different businesses, and completed an internship at a nonprofit institution. This experience confirmed that I wanted to work in the nonprofit sector.

Luckily, I was introduced to Alain Barbier, an ESCE alumnus who leads Pierson Export, a French concern that specializes in food and beverages from the African market. He wanted to create a foundation that connects companies and institutions in initiatives to reduce hunger and poverty in Africa. In 2008, he chose me to lead this new foundation, which came to be known as Sow and Encourage Economic Development (SEED).

The challenges and opportunities are enormous. It’s important to remember that poverty and hunger impact more than 240 million people in Africa. That’s about two of every three people on the continent. We don’t have to accept hunger in Africa. Agriculture can be the key to reducing food insecurity—and stimulating economic growth. Small, family based farms represent about 90% of Africa’s agricultural production. Giving farm families the skills to develop food processing activities helps boost their incomes. This, in turn, improves their living conditions. This is the crux of SEED’s work.

Our foundation is funded by corporate donations, which are redistributed to agricultural development projects in Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Mali, and Senegal. Our projects bring not only financial resources, but also introduce innovative and efficient agriculture processes to farmers. Many of the projects we support are run by nonprofit organizations, particularly French and international associations. My portfolio is broad and includes managing the foundation’s finances, overseeing projects, and fundraising.

In nearly three years, SEED has supported more than a dozen projects in eight African countries, with more than 30,000 direct beneficiaries. Initially, SEED was funded through 2014. The good news is that the founding donor companies have confirmed support for the next five years. By connecting companies and resources with people on the ground, SEED is showing that focused actions can begin to solve large problems. It’s a drop in the larger ocean of needs. We can change Africa—for the better.

Mathilde Bois-Dubuc
Mathilde Bois-Dubuc
Mathilde Bois-Dubuc
Patsy Ordonez
Patsy Ordonez
Patsy Ordonez
How To Build a Foundation–And Change Lives

Growing up in Mexico City, I dreamed of being on television one day. That’s why I came to Universidad del Valle de México (UVM) to study organizational communications and advertising. I was lucky. I got an internship at a national television network, doing a bit of everything: reporting on the most important news stories, writing scripts. It was exciting, but wasn’t fulfilling. At the same time, I worked at a foundation focused on child nutrition. I realized very quickly that I’d be happier starting a foundation. When I told my friends and family about this idea, they said: “You have to be rich to start a foundation!” I knew this wasn’t true.

As I was preparing to graduate from UVM, friends and relatives asked: “What are you going to do with the rest of your life?” I’d already started researching social issues. It turned out that in Mexico, there wasn’t a foundation devoted to raising awareness about cervical cancer, which in 2010 was among the leading causes of death for women in our country. The human papilloma virus (HPV) is highly prevalent among women in Mexico and is the main cause of cervical cancer. It’s a huge problem here and it’s hard to say precisely why the disease is so widespread. The public health system in Mexico is stretched very thin. The public hospitals are crowded, so people often get frustrated and leave before they see a doctor. Of course, there are private hospitals. But their services are too expensive for average citizens—who are most at risk of contracting HPV. At most Mexican hospitals, the HPV test is about $120 USD. Vaccinations cost several hundred dollars. There are cultural issues at play, too. We’re a collection of small, very religious communities. No one wants to talk about HPV. Many women prefer not to take the HPV test, and instead live with the risk. They hope for the best. Sadly, many women don’t learn they have cervical cancer until it’s too late.

I spent about six months developing a business plan at UVM’s entrepreneurship incubator, with guidance from a wonderful instructor, Esperanza Ricalde. One lesson: To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to know about everything— the economy, law, administration. The incubator encouraged me to present my plan to the Mexican Ministry of Finance’s national competition for aspiring women entrepreneurs—and I won. This victory opened many professional doors, and gave the foundation added credibility. This experience proved that if you have an idea, you can make it come true.

In 2010, I launched the National Foundation for Cervical Cancer. The foundation has two key goals. The first is to help people become aware of the disease. The second is to get women vaccinated for HPV. We have a clinic in Mexico City, with two examination rooms and the best medical equipment. We have seven doctors—all volunteers—including an ob-gyn, an oncologist, and a pathologist. Sometimes, we take the doctors and specialists outside Mexico City, into the nearby states of Puebla and Michoacán. I’m frequently on television and radio, and we run ads in newspapers to raise awareness about the disease. We’re impacting the lives of so many Mexican women. The first year, our doctors and specialists served nearly 700 women. Last year, we served almost 3,800. About 70 percent of our funding is through donations and sponsorships from public and private institutions, and individuals.

This is now my full-time job. When I help people deal with their health problems, they say, “Thank you,” and I see the gratitude on their faces. Together, we’re saving lives.

Patsy Pamela Ordóñez Arellano

Graduate:
Universidad del Valle de México (UVM)
Place of birth:
México City, México
Age:
25
City of residence:
México City, México
Major:
Communications
Year of Graduation:
2009
Founder, National Foundation for Cervical Cancer
Universidad del Valle de Mexico
Universidad del Valle de México is the largest private university in Mexico and is ranked as one of the top 10 private universities in the country

Pedro Diaz Ridao

Graduate:
Universidad Europea, Spain
Place of birth:
Almería, Spain
Age:
31
City of residence:
Madrid, Spain
Major:
MBA
Year of Graduation:
2006
Co-founder and Director, inspirasports
FOCUS ON: SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP
10 YouthActionNet® programs run with International Youth Foundation at work around the Laureate network
450+ Social entrepreneurs recognized through Laureate YouthActionNet® programs
Empowering People Through Sports

I grew up in Andalucía, in Southern Spain, and completed my undergraduate studies in Grenada. I studied in England and France, and then won a scholarship to study international relations at the University of California, Berkeley. It was there that I learned about a sports management MBA program in Spain. In 2006, the Universidad Europea de Madrid (UEM) had formed a partnership with Real Madrid, the Spanish soccer club.

After the MBA program, I spent a couple years working with sports professionals across Spain—launching events, including fundraisers. I liked raising money for different causes, and knew there’d be few opportunities to do this for my employer. In late 2009, I quit my job to focus on a big idea: How can sports help people improve the quality of their lives? It was risky, especially because of the economy. People told me: “You’re quitting your job—to start a nonprofit?” I wasn’t sure I’d succeed.

I took my idea to Real Madrid’s business incubator. The initial idea was to provide consulting work to nonprofits that wanted to use sports to promote better and healthier lifestyles. These groups usually don’t have money to develop these kinds of projects. Our insights aren’t free. Our model wasn’t sustainable, so we had to rethink our project. We want to provide a service—but also make a living.

We created inspirasports, a nonprofit organization that uses education and sports to drive social change. Our first major endeavor was a running club for the homeless. The club raises awareness about homelessness, and gives homeless people—volunteers, too—a sense of community. Participants sign contracts promising to run with us for eight hours in a central Madrid park. In return, we give them eight hours of entertainment in the shelter. In the first round, we thought we’d get nine people. We got 20. Now, we have more than 30 homeless runners and dozens of volunteers. They’re getting healthy. One lost 40 pounds. We’ve had homeless graphic designers find jobs. They have the skills, it’s just a matter of helping them get their confidence back. That’s important, especially in this economy. So many people are just one step away from homelessness.

The economic situation in Spain is impacting our work. Homeless shelters are full. We can’t rely on the government to fund our projects, and companies aren’t investing heavily in social entrepreneurship endeavors. So we must focus on individual donors. In Spain, we don’t have a deep tradition of individuals donating money. We’re building a philanthropic culture.

We’ve created six revenue streams to sustain inspirasports. As consultants, we help companies develop employee running clubs. We’re selling shirts. We want this initiative to be sustainable. Our focus is on the running club. All you need is running shoes—which have been donated.

In 2010, we won the UEM Prize for Young Social Entrepreneurs, which is a YouthActionNet® program run with the International Youth Foundation. Winning Laureate’s social entrepreneurship award opened many doors. We might not be big, but if we can keep this project going, I’ll be the happiest person in the world. I hate the word “success”— in Spain, we don’t use it much. I think of value, and of our work having enormous impact by empowering people through sports.

Pedro Ridao
Pedro Ridao
Pedro Ridao