This is Jen. Like many other students attending public high school in rural Penonome Jen and his family often struggled to cover the cost of attending school. That is when a friend at school told him about the Fundacion Forum. “He told me that he was receiving help and how much it was helping him be able to complete his studies. So he introduced me to Profesora Elvia. That is when I first visited the Forum Academy.”
Jen was born in the Community of Jujucal, Corregimiento de Piedras Gordas, Distrito de la Pintada. There he attended IPT La Pintada, where he was able to graduate from high school. “Forum helped me cover the costs of transportation and meals. He was quick to give back and help others out. When he returned to Forum Academy to help supervise students and provide assistance for assignments. “It was thanks to Profesora Omaira Martinez that I was given this opportunity to help the students.” Forum Foundation has also supported Jen through his university studies at the Centro Regional Universitario de Cocle where he studies Biology. Once again the financial assistance provided helped cover the cost of transportation and food. “I liked interacting and supporting the students with what I knew. They were the life force of the academy. It also represented a little extra money to cover other costs of university.”
Biology captured Jen’s attention because it is so closely related to the environment. Having a high school diploma in agriculture, he explains he is most comfortable working outside. Like many other students, Jen had to adapt to the new style of learning, with no in-person classes taking place. In his opinion not being able to have a complete class meant not understanding theories and their explanations as they were not explained in an efficient manner, therefore debilitating the learning. Moreover, all of the lab work was changed to modules. This completely changed the way we learned. “I was not able to design and present my final project.”But what affected Jen the most was that he was in his final year and he was not able to join the field visits to different installations to reinforce what we had learned and see it in practice.
When he graduated Jen hopes to specialize further in his field. For now, his interests are orientated towards Zoology. He believes Forum Foundation can continue having a meaningful impact in the lives of students and their communities by offering workshops and seminars to incentivize the importance of education in these hard-to-reach rural areas because these are the places where young people often lack the information, education, and interest. Support for university students is also very important. Many university students like me don’t have the economic resources to finish their studies, that is their dream, it changes lives.
Over the summer December to February Jen joined others in helping offer online workshops in Biology to help students in tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade. “The goal was to share some general biology knowledge so the students could review. This was a totally new and enriching experience for me. Being that I had so much interaction with the students” He explains that the workshop was done through WhatsApp, given that many students’ connectivity issues meant they could not connect to virtual platforms. This made going over some items particularly difficult. “But we used videos, images, and guides to help us cover the contents we needed to review.” In each of the workshops, Jen was able to see the effort of each of the students that participated. Given that the majority of them come from hard-to-reach places, many had to walk long distances to get telephone signal, often made more difficult by rain and cloudy days. “It was gratifying for me to share all I have learned at university with other students and colleagues because this also helped me review and strengthen my competencies. Moreover, learning is something that enriches our everyday lives.
“I would like to thank God for these wonderful opportunities that Mr. John and Mrs. Juanita have offered to us and that have changed our lives so that we can be better citizens. I would also like to thank Profesoras Omaira and Elvia who have guided us on this wonderful journey giving us support and strength when some of us fell.”
Forum Foundation is committed to helping inspiring and exceptional people like Jen reach their goals so they can go on to have a positive impact in their communities.