July 28, 2022

Ronaldo Raposo, 21 year old International Relations Student from Rio De Janeiro Brazil, gained the confidence to see himself as a change agent after completing the 2021 CELP, now Aspire Leaders Program.

Raposo credits Aspire for giving him the tools to take action on his own.

“I understand now that change doesn’t only come from something big,” he said. “I can change the reality I’m a part of right now.”

A lover of numbers and politics, Raposo has found his intellectual interests in the world of public policy and economics.

Since completing the Aspire Leaders program, Raposo has secured an internship at the Bank of Investment in Brazil, is studying for the TOEFL and GRE, and plans to do a master’s in public policy in the United States.

“The Aspire Leaders Program was essential for me to know what I wanted to do and helped me understand that I am young and have a lot to explore,” he said.

Raposo built confidence throughout the program; he was hesitant at first and worried about holding his own among the global cohort.

“I felt pressure as a first-generation student from Brazil,” he explained. “I wanted to fit in but I wasn’t sure whether I could be a leader in that space with students from across the globe.”

Being able to bring the Brazilian perspective to the table gave Raposo his spark.

“I saw myself in a perspective that I never had before,” Raposo said. “I had a voice and used it; I felt like I could actually be an agent for change.”

Growing up, Ronaldo saw international relations as a profession that privileged and wealthy people held in Brazil.

“People like me tend to give up because the variables feel against us,” he said.

Instead of turning away from his curiosity, Raposo has committed to contributing to something bigger.

“I see myself as one piece of a large puzzle,” he shared.

One of the initiatives he’s launched is called We Were Here at his university, which aims to provide support in writing to first-year students from socio-economically vulnerable situations through a mentorship program with upperclassmen. Through writing, these students learn to think critically and express their perspectives.

Raposo believes that this next generation of thinkers has the potential to unite Latin American countries and address the global economic inequities that plague the region.

“Once people can see us as leaders, we’re given the space to actually change the problems we’ve always noticed,” Raposo said.

Raposo plans to stay active and give back to the programs he has been a part of, including the Aspire Leaders Program and Latin American Leadership Academy (LALA).

“I’m grateful for these opportunities,” Raposo shared. “Being a part of Aspire gave me access to a wonderful network, momentum, and the belief that I can study abroad. I hope global youth can keep having this opportunity to understand their potential and value their work early on in life.”

During the work week, Raposo works many hours; on the weekend, he makes sure that he turns off and enjoys socializing with his friends and appreciating good music. He knows that when his time in college ends soon, this might change, and he is ready to move forward and figure out his place in making a change in the world.

“I want to lead the change I want to see,” he said. “I’ll do everything I can to make a positive social impact.”


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