Transformando Realidades scholarship winners conquer Madrid

The 10 young Colombians, winners of the Transformando Realidades scholarship, have reached another milestone: they have traveled to Madrid, an opportunity to enrich their journey towards becoming the professionals they aspire to be.

In a week filled with excitement, the students were supposed to be received by H.M. the Queen. The event, however, had to be canceled due to Her Majesty testing positive for COVID-19. Nevertheless, they were able to visit different companies related to the studies they’ve chosen, they were received at the Colombian Embassy, and they got to visit some of the more typical areas of the Spanish capital.

These students are, above all, a great example of self-improvement, taking after their parents, who have always been their inspiration in the face of adversity

They all come from low-income families, some with challenging life stories, who have had to live through violence, illness, or difficulties in order to continue their studies. But now they are all enrolled at different universities, thanks to the scholarship, an initiative of BBVA Colombia and Bancamía, BBVA Microfinance Foundation’s (BBVAMF) local institution.

They also participated in a meeting with the BBVAMF employees in Madrid, where they shared their experiences and motivations, how they are excelling in their respective courses and how this opportunity has changed their lives and that of their families. They were all very grateful and happy.

Becados Transformando Realidades_Madrid

The 10 winners of the Transformando Realidades scholarship, during an event at the BBVAMF headquarters

Kelly Zapata, Sebastián Carreño, Alejandra Buitrago, Karen Sarmiento, Vanessa González, Dayana Montenegro, Mario Naicipa, Belkys Correa, Ángela Sánchez and Luisa Bautista have conquered hearts and have made it clear that they are aiming for success. For them, earning a college degree is not just another step in their education, it is “a dream come true”.

BBVAMF CEO, Javier M. Flores said that “all entrepreneurs dream of giving their children a better life than the one they have” and that this is “the purpose of these scholarships. Because education is the lever, the key to a prosperous life”.

He also thanked their parents, all of whom are entrepreneurs supported by BBVAMF in Colombia, for their strength and for the example they have set for their children to succeed, since “behind each one of them is an impressive story”, he acknowledged.

These were their testimonies:

Kelly Zapata:

Kelly Zapata

“I am in my fourth semester of Fashion Design, a dream that I never thought could come true.

I come from a rural family, my father is a farmer and my mother is a dressmaker.

She is my main inspiration. I was born under fabrics, because we had no one to take care of us. My parents taught me to believe in my dreams. They told me to fight for them, that by working hard, you can achieve them.

I come from a place in Colombia that has been impacted by violence and natural disasters.

Once we lost our business due to an avalanche, but we were able to recover thanks to the support of this microfinance institution (Bancamía)”.

Alejandra Buitrago

Alejandra Buitrago:

“I am the daughter of farmers. My parents did not have the opportunity to go to school, and we did not have economic security.

But my dad took out a loan and, with the help of Bancamía, he started farming and has been able to support us. Since I grew up in an area surrounded by nature, I grew to love animals, and that is why I decided to study veterinary.

I also work on a community project called Sembrando Vida, it consists of planting trees to preserve nature and our water sources.”

Karen Sarmiento:

“My parents are farmers, and I grew up in a rural environment.

Karen Sarmiento

I have been witness to my parents’ work, how they strove so that their daughter could study and one day become the first college graduate in the family. They always instilled the value of hard work in me, to keep courage and to fight for my dreams. That road always had difficulties, and the biggest one was the financial issue.

My mother called on banks to get financing, and Bancamía supported her in her endeavor.

Now I am studying Economics thanks to this scholarship, which has really transformed my family’s reality”.

Belkys Correa

Belkys Correa:

“I had a very painful childhood, which I still remember and would like to erase from my memory. My father is sexist and violent.

When I was 16 years old I told my mother that I wanted to get out of that place, that I didn’t want that for a life, that I wanted to prosper and give her the best, because she is my life’s engine and the one who pushes me forward.

We managed to get out of our old life and did everything possible to live happily. During the pandemic, I took care of children and I realized that I wanted to be part of their education and that’s where the idea of studying a degree in Early Childhood Education came from. I always saw this scholarship as something feasible, as if I was going to get it, I deserved it… and that’s how it was. I believe that you attract what you focus on.”

Luisa Bautista

Luisa Bautista:

“I am already a nurse’s assistant. My inspiration to pursue a career in healthcare has always been my siblings.

I was always in charge of caring for them when they got sick, and one of them suffers from cerebral palsy.

This made me see that I can do something for others, that I can help them and contribute to society.

I look at my brother and I think, ‘I have to do something for him’.”

Sebastián Carreño

Sebastián Carreño:

“My childhood was somewhat hard, getting to school was very difficult because it was very far away, and my mom would always accompany us. It was very difficult for a boy from the countryside to go to school.

Thanks to my parents’ efforts I managed to continue studying. My father passed away and that was a very hard time for me and my family, but we supported each other and we were able to keep our farm running.

My mom is a fighter, she is everything to me.

I decided to study Environmental Engineering because of my love for the countryside, for nature, which my parents have instilled in me.”

Vanessa González

Vanessa González:

“I wanted to continue studying but could not for financial reasons.

This scholarship is the bridge that would take me to my dreams.

I am studying International Business, a versatile course that allows me to see the globalized world, to help other people and inspire them to believe in themselves, to believe in what they do, in what they love, as what happened to me.”

Dayana Montenegro

Dayana Montenegro:

“My dad is a driver and my mom is a hairdresser. Today I can proudly say that my mom is the best hairdresser in the world. And she has always told me, ‘daughter, to be someone in life, you have to have education, because education opens so many doors’. Since 2017 I have been trying to get into college and it was not possible.

In 2020 Bancamía announced this initiative and I got it. Now I study Psychology, and I was motivated to study because I saw that every day the suicide rate rises worldwide, and I want to help to others.

I work on two projects in my community. One is to deal with child abuse and exploitation, because in Colombia, and in my town, many children leave school to go out to the streets, to beg or work. And it is very sad to see how children leave their studies because of this.”

Ángela Sánchez

Ángela Sánchez:

“My story begins with the story of my father.

A hard-working man, who, with sacrifice and effort, has managed to support me and my five siblings. But we have not been able to access higher studies because of the financial problems at home. I did not lose my passion for studying, so I started working and studying at the same time.

I started taking care of children while I studied, and now with this scholarship I have been able to start my career as a teacher. I don’t want to be at home taking care of children, I want a school, I want to teach, I want to do what I like. My siblings and my parents are now proud of me.

And I will not stop until I achieve my goal: that adults call me a graduate and children call me a teacher.”

Mario Naicipa

Mario Naicipa:

“My mom and I have gone through many obstacles. The most important was cancer.

A hereditary cancer, which took my brother’s life, almost took my mother’s life, and also mine. Today my mom is healthy, and today I am a cancer survivor.

This scholarship helped me reach my dream of studying Film and Television, because I want to inspire children and young people who are going through hard times, to fight, because dreams do come true.

Many people think that cancer means death and disease, but it can also mean hope, faith, life changes, and that’s why I would like the stories of these children to be known, as is happening now with my life.”