Prior to my arrival to my US host University, I had one question on the top of my mind: What is the difference between our underdeveloped countries and the United States with regard to our ability to progress? This is not any easy question to answer, but I am now quite sure that good leadership could make a difference between chaotic and prosperous communities.
For an engineer, the solution to a problem of any kind requires a technical approach and this solution should derive from the alternatives produced through observation, analysis, and a set of well-organized procedures.
During my studies from the fall 2003 through the summer of 2004, I had come to realize that, outside the world of perfect solutions based on data and formulas, the world was even more complex and problems might involve scenarios many times more complicated than an equation. I now see that potential solutions have millions of variables and that mathematics does not have the ultimate answer to every problem.
I entered at University of Washington in the fall of 2003, and it was a wonderful experience to go back to school after having worked for several years for the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia.
I applied for a Fulbright scholarship called the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship. Becoming an exchange scholar was a challenging but rewarding adventure, to participate in a program that brought together mid-career professionals from around to world in order to enhance their leadership skills.
During my courses and seminars, I discovered that leaders are not only born but are also developed through the good guidance of mentors and specific leadership development programs.
I was awarded with “Alumni Impact Award project final report”. At the end of 2005, after finishing this one-year long project that helped to tackle down problems within a small rural community close to the capital that faced inequitable resource distribution, low school attendance, unemployment, migration to big cities, and alcoholism. The target group composed by 50 youngsters was an example to find better and productive ways to invest their spare time as well as helping to build a model to be followed by other groups of this region that face same challenges.
Many problems remains ahead, but my experience as H.H.H fellow was a life changing experience that will remain like a burn fingerprint in my mind.
2003 / 2004
Colombia / South America
from Colombia to United States
Student at University of Washington (2003)