I am from the community of La Trinidad, Las Lomas de La Pintada. My childhood and the place where I grew up was there in La Trinidad. While attending university I lived in Penonome.
I got to know the Foundation through Jean Mendoza from the Community of Jujucal
For the Holy Week of 2017, in a mission of the Youth Ministry of the Parish of La Pintada, one night talking with Jean, about the challenges faced to be able to study at the university being a person of limited resources. Jean told me about a teacher he knew. He told me that he was going to tell her about my case to see how they could help me. The following week, Professor Elvia Martinez called me and told me that she wanted to talk to me. She explained that Jean had told her about me and wanted to know more about my studies at the university.
I was in the first semester of my second year at the university, and we met in a hallway of the Universidad Technologica de Panama in Penonome, where I explained to Profesora Elvia my situation and from then on I began receiving support from the Foundation. That is how I was able to continue studying to obtain a degree in Food Science and Technology at the Regional University Center of Cocle at the University of Panama.
The scholarship provided by the Forum Foundation, allowed me to cover the cost of tuition, transportation, food, and other university expenses. This allowed me to focus on my studies and complete my assingments. The Foundation also provided me with additional financial support for my thesis and its printing as well as the payment of credits and diploma for graduation.
My parents were always the main motivators for me to study, I always remember them telling me that the best thing we can give you is an education and I believe that is true. Today, after finishing college and getting a job in my field, I thank them for that.
Besides, I always like to learn new things and I continue learning to this day. I think that you have to take advantage of the opportunity to study at the right time.
In addition to helping my family. After much effort and perseverance, I was able to successfully complete my university studies, always thinking about entering the labor market, specifically food laboratories, where I could use all my knowledge from my degree in Food Science and Technology.
Executive Director Jair Guevara, offered to support the scholarship graduates of the university by reviewing their resumes. He also gave me some great tips to prepare me for a successful interview. I sent my resume to food companies in Penonome and Panama, to see where I could have an opportunity. It turned out that I was offered a position in the food quality control lab at Harinas del Istmo. It is an excellent company where I am learning a lot, and applying my knowledge. My supervisors have a lot of confidence in me.
This year I had the opportunity to contribute my knowledge as a tutor in the tours to schools in the north of Cocle. In total, I participated in four visits. My contribution was in the area of chemistry, with tenth-grade students who were looking to reinforce their knowledge. However, I had to stop providing support in person because I moved to Panama to start my new position. Even so, I continue to provide support through chat on Whatsapp. Students share their questions with me and I help them resolve their concerns.
The advice I would tell them is that first is the studies, then the other things, that there is time for everything but do not give up and see it through to the finish.
And despite the difficulties, do not give up, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Also for a first job offer you have to have a lot of hope that at some point the opportunity will come to take that path that everyone wants.
Forum Foundation is committed to supporting young inspiring people like Rafael. Lifelong learners who help make change sustainable in their communities.