Moises Rodriguez is from the Altos del Silencio Community located in the district of Rio Indio. In 2013, having finished his studies at CEBG Las Marias, his teachers, especially his director, mentioned a school that was recruiting students to enroll for high school studies. Before sitting for the admissions test, he had not met anyone at the Forum Foundation. However, as he recalls he and many students at his school had been receiving meals made possible by the Foundations work. “When I started at the Forum Academy I received support to study and complete the MEDUCA high school degree in sciences and the IB Diploma Program.”
For Moises what he learned at the Forum Academy has helped him be academically successful at university. Especially the first two years where knowledge in mathematics and physics is fundamental for careers in engineering. “ The IB helped me become more analytical in my decisions and the responsibilities of studying for university courses have not caught me by surprise because of the rigor of the IB.” On the other hand, Moises recognizes the advantage the IB offers, in preparing students to articulate their ideas in written and oral form, thanks to the many essays and commentaries that requires critical and holistic thinking.
He goes on to share what made learning at the Forum Academy so special. “ I was the builder of my knowledge realizing there are multiple ways to learn and broaden our understanding, which in turn has broadened my own horizons. The search for knowledge is lifelong.”
Another opportunity that the Forum Foundation offered Moises was the opportunity to attend the Hun School of Princeton in New Jersey. “This was without a doubt beneficial because I was able to practice my English, communicate my ideas in another language, and also study the literature in English which relates to my career in engineering. This was yet another opportunity to broaden horizons for Moises, and as he says he was able to “face the world’s challenges because he developed the competencies to solve problems no matter what they are, or at least ask questions when in doubt.
Moises is currently in his third year at the Universidad Tecnologica School of Civil Engineering in Panama. This is a five-year degree that prepares students for the different branches of civil engineering like transportation, water management, road building, building structures, and allows for specialization in any of these areas.
The pandemic has given us the opportunity to experience a different way of studying. “Virtual classes have shown to be a challenge especially because we have been unable to do hands-on lab work which is essential. Without a doubt, there have been many inconveniences with trying to adapt the in-person methodologies to a virtual space. I also think that now more than ever students need to be organized and disciplined because there are many more distractions.” Moises also recognizes that the situation has shown the importance of investing in education. It is clear that there is a disparity, inequality in the way that knowledge is offered. “At the beginning of the pandemic, I did not have the advantages of signal or electricity that I needed to take my classes. But with the help front the Foundation I was able to continue receiving scholarship assistance, and since I was unable to travel to Panama City, I was given the opportunity to stay at the Academy and use the internet to continue my studies.
After graduation, Moises plans to apply his knowledge in civil engineering to solve problems that affect his community. “I would like to dedicate time to use what I have learned to produce something because I think that is the way to give back for having received so much during my studies. Nevertheless, I am not dismissing the idea of getting a master’s, that would allow me to have an even deeper in my community.