Alumni Updates – Guatemala

Roberto Barrios – North Dakota State University (2009-2010)

Last year I got a scholarship to study for my Master’s in Project Management in a joint program taught in three European countries! So far I have lived in the UK, Italy and am currently in Sweden. The experience has been amazing with lots of learning notRoberto Barrios only in class but from my classmates that come from more than 20 different countries. A curious thing is that when we first all met and started adding each other on Facebook I had friends in common with one of them coming all the way from Azerbaijan! We were really surprised and then I discovered she is also a Global UGRAD alum and went to Dickinson State University in North Dakota. How small the world can be sometimes!

Overall, the Global UGRAD Program has allowed me to learn a lot for my professional development but also live and experience different European cultures and travel to many countries. I believe once you have lived abroad you become a world citizen eager to learn, discover and challenge yourself constantly. I will finish my studies in some months and I’m looking forward to the next new challenge!

Elias Ottoniel Ibarra Estrada – University of Wyoming (2014-2015)

Elias 2

I’ve almost finished college, life is amazing, and I am working hard to become a future leader in politics. Recently I delivered a speech in my college for a competition. I got first place. I am so thankful to World Learning and my Public Speaking and Persuasion teachers at University of Wyoming, where I learned so much about public speaking and persuasion in my amazing fall semester.  Two of the courses I took in Wyoming revolved around public speaking and they both benefited me immensely.

Robin de Leon Izaguirre – University of North Alabama (2008-2009)

I graduated from college a few months ago. I joined the EducationUSA network three years ago and I have helped several other students from Guatemala to become new UGRADs! It has been a great experience for me and trust me, I miss my University of North Alabama every single day!

Varinia Ruano – Tennessee Technological University (2012-2013)

I worked for one year at a public institution in Guatemala and also collaborated with Engineers Without Borders from the Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville in the design of a water distribution system in a rural area of Guatemala. I worked with Mustard Seed Peace Project organization and AJEDE on different community development projects in Guatemala. I am currently pursuing a Master’s in Product Management from the University of Oulu in Finland. I enjoy my courses and am learning various different skills which I hope to put in practice when I have a job. I am also learning Finnish because it is the best way to learn more about the culture and the people of where I am. I’m very happy and am still in touch with my friends from Tennessee Tech.

Diego Guzman – University of Utah (2011-2012)

After returning home from my UGRAD experience, I completed my undergraduate degree in music, which I finished last year with summa cum laude distinction. After graduating I got a job at the Ministry of Arts and Culture of Guatemala, where Diego GuzmanI was in charge of overseeing the state art schools and conservatories and helped contribute to curriculum development. In the meantime I got accepted into a master’s degree in Film Scoring in Dublin, Ireland at a multimedia arts school called Pulse College in conjunction with the Dublin Institute of Technology. I started the program this past September and have been learning a lot since. Studying abroad once more brings back so many memories as there are so many parallels of my time in Utah. Perhaps the biggest one is getting to make friends with many international students, whom I’m sure will be a family to me once I conclude my studies!

Danny Roberto Palacios – SUNY Plattsburgh (2010-2011)

Five years have passed since I was a UGRAD student and my life has been given a 360 degree change. Shortly after coming back from the program I graduated as a Systems Engineer and got my dream job at Xerox Services. After two-and-a-half years of practicing what I had learned at school, I decided to pursue an MBA at INCAE in Nicaragua, one of the best Business Schools in Latin-America. I graduated in May and am currently working as the CEO of a startup company which focuses on automation of houses and buildings. Personally, I will be turning 30 soon and I am excited to see what the future holds. I often visit my parents (and dog) who live four hours away from Guatemala City.

Abner  Chay Churunel – Indiana University of Pennsylvania (2008-2009)

My name is Abner Chay, I am from Panajachel, Guatemala. This is a little town located next to one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. I am 26 years old and am currently studying marketing with a minor in international trade. For several years, I have volunteered with ENACTUS, which is a worldwide nonprofit organization that works with many universities to develop sustainable projects.

Today, I am working in one of the most revolutionary companies of this age: Endless. This is a technology company that integrates new hardware and operating systems that include more than 150 programs in education, health, work, entertainment and much more. The computer has been designed for people with limited access to technology and information, and I am sure that it will make a huge impact on people’s lives. I am in love with this project since it matches my beliefs and I can continue making change in the world.

Jennifer Morales – California State University Dominguez Hills (2010-2011)

Jennifer Morales

Thanks to the knowledge learned at CSUDH, I was able to obtain my first job as a Social Media Analyst where I gained experience in my field of study and got familiar with the latest trends in social media. After two-and-a-half years, I was offered an opportunity to work as a Digital Analyst at 4am Saatchi & Saatchi Guatemala. A year and a half later I’m still working and learning from one of the top agencies of our country and recently obtained my communications degree. I have to say – I feel very blessed because being part of the UGRAD program was an open door to fulfill my academic and professional dreams.

Mandre Chang Luarca – University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (2010-2011)

Well, my life has changed in many different ways. Personally, I am a happy mother of a three-year-old boy, who fills my days with love and happiness. On the other hand, professionally, I am working in a school with teenagers, and also I am the president of AJEDE  (Asociación de Jóvenes Ex becarios del Departamento de Estado) which is an association of the US Embassy in Guatemala that aims to help alumni communities to develop in many different ways. We have been working for three years so far, and some of our projects focus on English classes, entrepreneurship for women in rural areas, school gardens, and others.

If any Guatemalan alum would like to join our association, please contact me at [email protected], through Facebook AJEDE Guatemala, or State Alumni Guatemala.


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