Over the last two summers, I had the chance to work on leadership in action projects in the United States and Brazil as part of my Laidlaw training. In this blog, I'll discuss my second summer experience.
But before going into details, I'd like you to have a basic understanding of the current Brazilian job market. Unemployment rates are at an all-time high in almost every industry. However, there are several job openings in the tech industry. In fact, there are more positions available than eligible applicants. According to a popular Brazilian magazine, O Globo, 15% of the population is unemployed, while there are approximately 200,000 job opportunities in the tech industry.
Several non-profit organizations have been founded in Brazil with the mission of aiding in the development of the next generation of IT leaders. I worked at one of them, the Minas Up Institute in Janauba, Minas Gerais, during the first half of my Laidlaw Scholars leadership in action project. Every year, Minas Up teaches coding and 3D modeling to approximately 300 students. One thing that struck me was how applicable the leadership skills we learn as part of our Laidlaw Scholars program were there. As I was immersed in such a collaborative environment, values like protagonism and integrity came into play. I had the opportunity to plan a curriculum, teach classes, and lead workshops.
I spent the final half of the summer conducting community outreach and speaking at events about my Tufts experience. For low-income students who, like me, had a public education in Brazil, studying abroad is seen as practically impossible. The expense of attending a school in the United States is unrealistic for at least 95% of the Brazilian population, who survive on $7 a day (minimum wage). People are fascinated when someone like me has the opportunity to attend a school like Tufts. So I decided to share a bit of my experience applying to schools in the United States with Minas Up students.
I spoke to over 200 students about my application process and how to find community-based groups that provide financial and academic support to low-income applicants. I put out a list of opportunities I took advantage of in high school and shared it with them. Following the events, my email box was flooded with notes from students who were thankful and encouraged to dream bigger.
One student in particular applied for the Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS), a prestigious program at Yale University, and was awarded a full scholarship to attend the program. Another student applied for the Latin America Leadership Academy (LALA), a leadership bootcamp that I had attended in high school, and was also accepted with a full scholarship. These are the examples that make me feel like I'm on the right track, paving the way for people who look like me to occupy spaces where we've been disregarded for far too long.