My Road to Ph.D. and starting a Non-profit to address the roadblocks I had to overcome

Ph.D., in general, is a tough road of attaining. Add now a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and the fact the program is not in your native language and to study you have live across the world in a new country, new culture, and higher living expenses. BeVisible member Clarissa Rios shares how she overcame obstacles on her road to her Ph.D. and is now using the resources she learned to empower more students in Latin America. Her work has been featured on United Nations program Empower Women (UN Women) among many others . This is an adapted post originally posted on BeVisible.soy platform by Clarissa.

I am Clarissa Rios, I am from Peru and because I have come from there I know what it is to feel limited to develop professionally. Therefore, I feel very connected and responsible with the millions of Latin American students that want to pursue their academic dreams but are trapped by the same limitations I had ten years ago.

I am currently finishing my Ph.D. at the University of Queensland and had the chance to study in Peru, Sweden, Finland and Australia but my story goes back ten years ago when I was about to finish my bachelor’s degree.

OVERCOMING CHALLENGES ON MY ROAD TO PH.D.

First, the biggest challenge I had to overcome was to find a solution for having barely any money for pursuing my studies and dreams of professional development. I come from a low-income family, my parents and I made a lot of sacrifices so I could have a proper education.

I worked hard at university so I could win a scholarship to go to Finland as an exchange student. The scholarship was part of the agreement my University in Lima, Peru (Mayor National University of San Marcos) had with the University of Turku in Finland.

I decided I wanted to study in the prestigious university Karolinska Institute in Sweden but I did not have any scholarship to help me cover my living expenses. So, in order to achieve my dream; I worked cleaning ships and houses, collecting glasses at bars, teaching Spanish, and babysitting so I could pay for my living expenses while studying.

Once I finished my master’s in Biomedicine with a major in Neuroscience I went to work for a big pharmaceutical company in Germany (Evotec). While living in Germany I applied for a Ph.D. scholarship in Australia at the University of Queensland and that is how I ended up moving to Brisbane and doing research on Molecular Biology of Sex Determination. I received three scholarships from the University of Queensland: international, centennial and advantage scholarship, that provided me the opportunity to pursue my Ph.D.

I overcame my initial lack of opportunities by empowering myself through education and by working hard and being persistent on my goals. Resilience, good attitude, and passion for the things I did helped me a lot on my journey.

I ACHIEVED MY GOAL OF OBTAINING A PH.D. BUT I WASN’T DONE. NOW IT’S TIME TO THINK OF THE REST…

Although I could defeat the obstacles on my road to Ph.D., that is not the case for millions of youth in Peru. The lack money, technology, support network and limited opportunities for professional development is still a big problem in entire Latin America. In order to find a solution to this problem and be part of the solution, last year I started a non-profit called Ekpapalek.

I’M ON A MISSION TO EMPOWER MORE STUDENTS FROM LATIN AMERICA TO ACHIEVE THEIR CAREER GOALS.

Talking about Ekpapalek on the radio in Australia

Ekpapalek’s mission is to empower Latin students and promote social and economic development of Latin American countries. Ekpapalek provides opportunities for professional development through three programs. All our programs are accessed freely by any student who needs to boost their academic career.

We are the only organization that provides Latin American students connections with overseas hosts that can host them for free while doing an internship. We also connect them with professional experts from around the world who are willing to support them through our mentoring program.

REWRITING THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN LATIN AMERICAN SOCIETIES

Ekpapalek also seeks to empower women by rewriting the role model for women in Latin American societies. We bring talks and workshops about women’s economic empowerment to schools and organizations.

Ekpapalek believes in the academic and professional potential of Latin students and therefore invests in developing these free programs that can contribute to their professional development. Together we can create a world where Latinos are also known for their excellent academic skills and become successful professionals!

WANT TO JOIN THE MISSION?

You can connect with Clarrisa Rios on Bevisible.soy, a career platform built on social capital to achieve personal and community goals. You can also check for resources on scholarships, jobs, college, and resources for launching your non-profit or your road to your Ph.D or starting with your first college degree.

You can contribute to Clarissa’s non-profit Ekpapalek by gathering your social capital, donating, and offering your professional tips.

  • Donate
  • Share her story by sharing this post for to get more visibility and more funding opportunity.
  • Follow and share her non-profit on Facebook
  • Connect with her on Bevisible to offer any professional help ( improving website, sub-program development,etc)

Written by: Clarissa Rios, this post originally appeared on Bevisible.soy platform

Edited by: Michelle Estefania Cruz.