After handing out brochures with information about the Forum Academy, Profesorar Elvia is standing in front of a group of students at the Centro Educativo Basico General San Jose del Naranjal, sharing details of the application process.
This is when Doralia first hears about the mathematics test and interview required in order to be accepted to enroll in the academy. Doralia was born in the community of La Pedregosa, Tulú, District of Penonomé, Province of Coclé.
“I thought. This is an opportunity that I am going to take advantage of, even though I know it won’t be easy. I remember reviewing the brochure with all the requirements. I recall that on the day of the math test they also gave some ninth graders the opportunity to visit the Panama Canal. I had to choose and I am glad that I chose what was right for me. I stayed and took the math test.”
She and her family then waited patiently for the phone call that would share the results of the test. That call finally happened, and the follow-up interview was scheduled. Doralia successfully complete the interview process and joined the academy. “The Foundation offered me the opportunity to finish high school and go on to my university studies. I feel grateful for all the support they have given me. Being at the Academy was not easy because we were all far away from our families. But it was a step we have to take in order to move forward. The support from everyone at the Academy is what made this possible.
High school diploma in hand, Doralia then set her sites on a degree in Sanitation and Environment. “This is a career that is really needed in our county. I feel this career pushes me to help create a healthier environment free of pollution. Also, it is a way of helping promote caring for the environment. What we do is interesting because there are a lot of options for work.
Doralia remembers that starting university also came with challenges. Mostly adapting to being around classmates from different backgrounds and with different habits and interests. Nonetheless, Doralia knew the importance of staying focused managing workloads, and ensuring she put forth the effort to complete tasks essential to her success. “At first my grades were low and I was struggling but with the advice from Profesora Elvia who encouraged me to continue even though it was difficult, I was able to preserve and improve.
The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t make things any easier. The Universidad Technologica started offering various digital learning solutions like email WhatsApp and Microsoft teams to help students continue studying. “As a student, it was somewhat tedious because I didn’t know how to use those tools at first. Being lockdown also weighed heavily on us as students.”
Only a few steps away from finishing her degree, Doralia is happy, motivated, and already planning for the future. “I feel grateful to God for allowing me to accomplish this important goal. Since he is the one who has blessed me with the intelligence and wisdom to move forward.
Once she graduates Doralia plans to look for a job to keep moving forward. “A degree in Sanitation and Environment is a career which focuses on training professionals who are able to participate in research and project implementation. This is needed in our country because sadly there are many projects that don’t comply with sanitation and environmental regulations.”
Forum Foundation is committed to supporting exceptional and inspiring people like Doralia so that they can achieve their dreams. We are confident Doralia will go to have a positive impact, helping make change sustainable.