A brother to four siblings, three brothers, and a sister to be exact, Juan is from the community of Tulu Arriba located in the mountains of Cocle. His father is a farmer and his mother is a homemaker.
Like many other families who are subsistence farmers, Juan’s family was not able to cover the costs of dorm life. Through Forum Foundation’s support, he was able to attend school. This year, amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, Juan graduated from the Insituto Profesional Tecnico in La Pintada.
For students like Juan being able to attend school is challenging. The pandemic forcing schools to close and implement distance learning certainly increased that challenge. In Juan’s case, this meant that he had to walk 20 minutes to get to a place where he could have a signal on his phone in order to use his data to receive messages with class assignments and then submit his work to his professors. “I received help from my family and professors. They knew the challenges I faced, and they helped me complete this final year.” At the end of the school year, Juan achieved the third-highest average in his graduating class.
Graduation was a bitter-sweet moment, to say the least. COVID-19 restrictions meant there would be no graduation. So Juan received his diploma by picking it up at the school. But this did not dampen his spirits, he says, he is still enormously proud of what he has accomplished.
Juan plans to pursue his university studies at Universidad de Panama in Penonome. He is going to study to be a Renewable Energy Engineer. Classe will begin online. “When classes start to be delivered in person I hope to be able to move into town so that I can be closer to the university.” Once he graduates Juan hopes to work directly with renewable resources in his community. He recognizes the importance of what he is learning, and how it could benefit hard to reach communities in the mountains. “I would really like there to be a renewable energy project in my region. Moreover, renewable energies are a clean resource that can help protect our planet.” Indeed this is a highly competitive career choice and is already in high demand. There is no doubt Juan will also face this challenge head-on.
“I would like to thank Forum Foundation for the assistance they provided me to be able to finish high school, and the guidance they provided to apply for university. I am grateful for the opportunity to receive a scholarship to attend university. Thank you to John Keffer and Janet Robinson and of course Profesora Elvia Martinez and Miss Sandra for the orientation and advice they provided so I could continue my education.”
Forum Foundation is committed to helping exceptional students like Juan reach their goals and have a positive impact on their communities. Helping make change sustainable.