Richard Maquiel Martinez Villarreta was born in the community of Union Santena. Like many students who receive Forum Foundation support, his community is far away from the schools that promise a brighter future.
He remembers a teacher Noriel Guardado who encouraged him to continue his studies and first spoke to him about the opportunities Forum Foundation and the Forum Academy had to offer. “Profesor Guardado told me that this foundation was helping students like me who have little to no resources, continue their studies.”
Richard had just been accepted at Forum Academy in Cerro la Vieja, where he was set to begin the tenth grade, when MEDUCA announced school closures “I was only able to be there for 15 days because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were not able to continue staying at the school.”
Committed to helping Richard pursue his academic goals, Forum Foundation helped support Richard. He recently graduated from Colegio Mercedes Bustamante in Toabre, a school where several other bright young minds have received help to finish their studies. His favorite subjects were math, accounting, and business management. “The support I received from Forum Foundation helped me pay for room and board while I attended school. If not for this economic support, my parents would have had to invest a great deal of money they did not have.”
Technology also played an important role in his pursuit of knowledge. “I was able to complete my 10th and 11th-grade assignments by distance learning. This was no easy task, like many other students in my class, I had to climb to the top of a hill to be able to get a signal in order to send and receive assignments.
Following the example of many successful graduates before him, Richard has his sites set on enrolling at Universidad de Panama in Cocle, where he plans to earn a degree in Business Management and Accounting. . “At the moment I am getting ready to take the entrance exam. Mathematics is essential for any career, like accounting for example implies some reasoning and application of mathematics in line with the legal requirements of a given country.”
When we asked Richard what advice he would share with others he related “Once you have set the goal you must not abandon it. One must always strive for success no matter how difficult or impossible it might seem. Fight, put as much effort as you can into your studies, and don’t just finish high school, you have to keep learning and keep moving forward. If you really want to be a professional you must never give up, and learn to get up on your own when life knocks you down. In the end, you will see the results of all of your efforts. It has been a great pleasure for me to be interviewed for this story and to share my experiences with you. Thank you very much”
Forum Foundation is especially thankful for the effort beneficiaries like Richard make in order to give back and help make change sustainable. It was wonderful to speak with Richard and realize how much he enjoyed working with and helping students with mathematics.