Jair Alberto Rodriquez is from Villa Unida, Caimito. A recent graduate of Angel Maria Herrera High School, he admits that coming in third place in his school’s 2022 graduating class was not in his plans. “I was just diligent, with my assignments and dedicated a lot of time to study. There was a lot of competition but that was no pressure for me, I just focused on myself and helping my classmates. The teachers were a great help because they were always there for the students and advised me on any obstacles that came up during the school year.
For Jair, studying is important because it is our path to follow if we want to become professionals,” he says. On this path “we train ourselves, learn about our abilities, and discover our potential. In the beginning, Jair had difficulties adapting to distance learning. Like many of Forum Foundation’s beneficiaries, he struggled with access to the resources to stay connected and turn in his assignments. In addition to a difficult economic situation and the lack of devices.
“I feel that the students learned very little or almost nothing, but in a face-to-face experience, the teachers would be able to better evaluate the student’s learning. But little by little the educational community realized that technology was here to stay. For example, many jobs are now done virtually, in addition to education, many things are now done on a computer or cell phone. Many older adults had to adapt to the current technology and learn to use devices and platforms to either communicate or work.”
A young man well aware of the evolving world around him, Jair has overcome many challenges. He tells us that learning to manage online learning platforms on a computer was perhaps the most difficult to overcome. But with persistence, dedication, and practice, Jair was able to learn and grow his digital technology skills.
When we asked Jair what he enjoyed most about his studies, he told us that his internship was his favorite part because it taught him to work efficiently in a public setting. “It gave me the opportunity to have a real experience in a job from where I met a lot of excellent people that helped me learn a lot.
At the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Jair heard about a foundation helping exceptional students in need of financial assistance. “The selected students were required to have excellent grades and behavior, in order to receive the scholarship benefits.” Confident he would not squander this opportunity, Jair applied for a John Keffer Scholarship. “During my studies, I received financial support that helped me acquire cell phone cards to stay connected to my classes, as well as access to free printing and copies for my assignments, as well as materials to prepare class projects and presentations, all available at the Community Center in Caimito.
Students like Jair provide a prime example of how access to digital resources provided at our Community Center locations in Caimito can transform lives. Jair did not trust taking his University Admissions test on his cell phone. That is when he went to the Community Center and asked to check out one of the laptop computers available free of charge. “It was very rewarding. I was able to also be with other students who were also there to use computers to work on assignments or to do some research. Like me, they did not have the resources to have their own computer. I am infinitely grateful to Forum Foundation for the opportunity to access and use these devices, which are very necessary for students nowadays. I will certainly continue to use the Community Center and its resources.”
When we asked Jair what advice he had for other students he said the following;
“Don’t give up, pursue your dreams because no one else will do it for you, over the course of the years in high school and college our skills and strengths are honed. And no matter if you fall once, you can get back up and try again. It’s never too late to learn.”
My next steps are to go to university and earn a degree in Banking and Finance. I want to be able to work so that I can inspire other young people to have a love for education. We are the future professionals of this country so we need to be well-educated. Studying Banking and Finance has long been a goal for Jair and as he told us he will not rest, he will not give up until he reaches his goal and gets his degree.
Forum Foundation is committed to supporting exceptional and inspiring people like Jair. On his path towards success, we will continue to provide counseling and resources so that he may reach his employment goals, allowing him to one day return to his community and contribute to making change sustainable.