A Conversation with Minerva Student Gabriel
Meet Gabriel, a student in the Class of 2025.
Gabriel Bio Guerra
Santos, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Intended Major & Concentrations
Why did you choose to attend Minerva?
I discovered Minerva when one of my best friends, who is also a “Bolsista BRASA”, told me that he was accepted to Minerva. I learned even more about Minerva and its values during the application process while talking to another friend of mine who was admitted, and who also is a “Bolsista BRASA”. This was enough for me to fall in love with the university.
Minerva’s different pedagogical approach which relies on Habits of Mind and Foundational Concepts (HCs) made my decision to enroll easier. I feel that normal lectures as part of the traditional method adopted by other universities still lack the ability to make students ready for the challenges of life. I think that being a Minerva student will prepare me to perform better at an impactful company or even to start my own. The core knowledge taught in the first year so far has given me a good perspective on how I would react when I begin my professional life. To be honest, classes are better than my expectations. Now I really see routine challenges differently and feel that I am getting more in-depth knowledge through my academic and professional tasks. In addition, I am enjoying my academic life a lot more than I used to.
What are you looking forward to experiencing at Minerva? What do you hope to accomplish?
I am looking forward to being challenged all the time and I want to discover all that I am capable of doing, but at the same time, I want to use my skills in the real world. The best part is that I will also have the chance to use what I am learning in different countries which will help me become a more adaptable person, capable of applying my knowledge effectively in any context. I will feel accomplished if I graduate knowing that I have explored all the available resources at Minerva — I want to learn exactly who I am, what I want to do, and what my best skills are. By doing this, I think I will be prepared to follow my dream and open my own business, or become a CTO at a company where I can apply the ideas and learnings that I have absorbed while traveling the world with Minerva.
What is your favorite part about the Minerva community so far?
Two aspects impressed me when I first joined the community. I was originally a bit wary of going to a university that does not have a great number of upperclassmen and alumni; I thought I would be at a disadvantage in my networking. However, the first aspect that impressed me is that even though we do not have a high number of alumni yet, the student body is so close that it is easy to connect with them. The first Minerva alumni only graduated in 2019 and are still “fresh” students, but at the same time, the majority of them have already launched the dreams that I and other current students have now. It is inspiring to be able to learn closely from someone in your dream field and occupation.
Living with the same people for four years was also something that I had some worries about initially, but in my experience so far, I can say that I am completely comfortable with it. Many people think that at Minerva, we live in a small bubble, but I have learned that this is not true. What surprised me was that our bubble is actually the city, which is much bigger and more diverse than any other university. Being at Minerva, you can seek experiences anywhere in the city, and you can even go beyond the city and become part of other communities. In just one month, I have already made friends with students from the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford, the University of San Francisco, and various interest groups around the city.
How does the BRASA scholarship support your studies?
The BRASA scholarship provides me with more support than just financing my travel expenses this year. It gives me a robust network, a mentor, and an environment in which I can ask questions or talk about my feelings, get advice on living in another country or applying for financial aid at Minerva, making connections, finding a summer internship, or job opportunities, and much more. It also provides valuable learning experiences, such as the Brasa Summit, a conference with Brazilian global influencers who are part of impactful companies and organizations such as ONU, Stone, and Ambev.
How did you find and approach BRASA as a financing organization?
I prefer to say that BRASA found me. I was 17 at the time, working on my projects, participating in conferences, and trying to make a positive impact on those around me.
BRASA was starting a new project called “BRASA-Pré Fundamentos”, which accepted younger high school students not yet of age to apply to US universities and mentored them on the US university admissions process, which is different from the Brazilian process. So the president of that project reached out to me and said, “Hey, I saw you at a conference. I think you should apply to this project. It will be a good opportunity for you to see what you can achieve with the potential that you have.” I applied and was accepted to be part of the first class of the project. The next year, I applied to “BRASA-Pré” and was accepted there as well. As an alumnus, now I am a BRASA ambassador and a “Bolsista Brasa”.
Tell me about the role BRASA played in your search for university? How has that helped you?
I developed my dream to study abroad because of BRASA. My financial situation did not allow me to dream of studying abroad before I connected with the organization. This is why I am so grateful for everything they have provided. During my participation as a mentee in the BRASA-Pré project, I received resources to develop a high-quality application. Every weekend, we had a workshop to cover one of the aspects of the application — we talked about recommendation letters, college lists, interviews, portfolios, college essays, personal statements, the Common App, CSS, and more. I also took classes to study for the SAT and TOEFL and met with a mentor from Stanford, all with the support of BRASA.
What advice would you give a prospective Minerva student from Brazil?
If you are a hands-on person who loves practical projects and wants to take action, you would be a perfect fit for Minerva because here you will have the chance to tackle many of the challenges that we see in our Brazilian community. I know that many people hesitate to apply to Minerva because of their financial circumstances or the global rotation model, which is quite different from other universities. However, in my experience, the fact that “the city is our campus” is incredible and has a lot of benefits that you will not find in traditional campus models.
Financial aid at Minerva is also very accessible and the university has a great reputation for admitting the best students globally and supporting them in being able to get a great education. You might qualify for the work-study program at Minerva, which provides a great learning opportunity and helps to support travel and personal expenses. You can also seek a summer internship for professional experience that can further help to offset the financial costs through the Coaching and Talent Development office. If you have any questions, just ask and our admissions team can always help you. My main advice is, do not miss the opportunity to apply to Minerva.
If you connected with Gabriel’s story and are seeking to learn creatively and inquisitively around the world, begin your application to join Minerva.