Rolando Zarek Martínez Treviño, a 21 year old from Nuevo León, Mexico, entered the 2021 Crossroads Emerging Leaders Program, now the Aspire Leaders Program, as a college student somewhat interested in entrepreneurship. Since then, Zarek has grown to become a true social entrepreneur and an academic.
His interest in technology and entrepreneurship led to pitching MaestroVirtual, the project that he is pursuing after receiving the Community Action Award (CAA) grant. Maestrovirtual provides digital skills training for public school teachers in Mexico with the hope of using technology to ameliorate the societal and educational needs that have emerged due to COVID-19.
Before pitching to the Aspire team, Zarek gauged interest in training programs for technological advancement by surveying educators across Nuevo León. His findings revealed teachers do not receive adequate training in new digital tools.
“The ultimate goal is to turn digital development programs into a fundamental part of the public education curriculum,” Zarek said.
One year after presenting his three minute pitch for the CAA, Zarek has secured seed funds from the government and two other awards, gained 20 volunteers to help lead the trainings with teachers, and completed training 350 teachers.
“Financially speaking, keeping them working is better than retiring. You can train a teacher in a month and this teacher has 40 years of experience. If you have a young teacher, you cannot train them in 40 years,” explained Zarek.
Many teachers cited the program Zarek and his team provided as a catalyst to continue working rather than retire. If all of these teachers retired, there would simply not be enough elementary school educators for the next generation.
“There are too many people that do not believe in the change. I feel myself as an agent of change,” Zarek said.
In the next year, he aims to recruit more program facilitator volunteers and train a total of 1,000 public school teachers with their help. These volunteers are current students studying to become teachers, forming a feedback loop of support and mentorship.
Now pursuing both his International Business degree at Universidad de Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL) and beginning another degree through the City University of Seattle funded by Fundación Reynera, Zarek strives to not only be an entrepreneur but pursue a doctorate and become a researcher.
“I have learned from Aspire that I love to learn,” Zarek said. “It literally changed my life.”
Between focusing on academic goals and Maestrovirtual, he finds time to enjoy good food as he quests to find the best hamburger in the state. So far, his research reveals that the homemade burgers from small vendors taste the best.
With the support of both the Aspire team and his university, Zarek puts forward his best effort every day with the belief that he can make a difference.
“If I get the result or if I fail, I am doing the best that I can,” he said. “The best gift this program gave me is [the idea] that anything is possible and to trust in my talent and potential.”