Universidad Mayor (UM), an Aspire global partner university based in Chile, seeks to drive innovation through international exchange. Due to a recent state policy, UM has a higher percentage of low-income students and an increasing need for systems to support these young adults.
UM’s mission to train students through an educational experience that encourages ethical behavior, entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership, and respect for cultural and social diversity aligns with that of Aspire Institute.
Through undergraduate and postgraduate programs that center around the generation, articulation and dissemination of knowledge, and the establishment of international networks and exchanges, UM hopes to enhance the Chilean cultural, educational, social, and economic sectors.
This month, we spoke with Soraya Madriaza, Director of Universidad Mayor’s Office of International Relations, to discuss more about the impact of our collaboration.
“At Universidad Mayor, we are committed to enriching the culture of our campuses by bringing other students and scholars from abroad to engage with the local students as well as sending those students abroad to learn about the world and expand their minds,” she said. “We feel Aspire offers a fantastic opportunity for them to continue their exploration and build their own networks.”
Madriaza feels strongly about supporting students from all backgrounds and facilitating international engagement and thought exchange to drive innovation.
She lives out these passions not only with her roles at UM that foster global interaction to generate new ideas and research but also through her continued studies in diversity, equity, and inclusion. As she finishes up her doctorate in this area, she hopes to initiate new programs at the university.
“By integrating the university into international networks and associations, we can empower our university and our students,” Madriaza shared.
Beginning in 2020, UM partnered with a specific tuition state policy that provides education for free, allowing low-income students to pursue their education without the burden of cost.
“We have opened up a new world for our underserved youth,” Madriaza explained. “Now the poorest of the country can study for free — many come a long way, from difficult circumstances to be here, and they need our support.”
Underserved students now make up 50% of the UM student body. Madriaza believes this is a great thing. She sees many students eager to learn taking advantage of this opportunity. However, she also witnesses the challenges they face when they arrive on campus. This is why she encourages them to join the Aspire Leaders Program. It is a perfect chance for them to engage with a global audience, learn from world-class educators, and gain resources and guidance.
“This has been a very beautiful task, to prepare those students,” she said. “You are really helping these state policy students who come here with nothing but the eagerness to learn.”
Madriaza knows the importance of preparing these youth as most of Chile’s population is middle class. However, they are now facing new issues as there are high rates of immigration from Venezuela, Colombia and other countries looking for a better quality of life — many of whom are professionals. This creates more demand and competition in the domestic job market. Therefore, UM wants all youth to know of the opportunities for collaboration, exploration, and further study in and outside Chile.
“When you have someone who believes in you, it makes a world of a difference,” Madriaza said. “Our goal is to surround them with mentors, peers and other inspiring people so that they can see that there’s more hope and possibility than they could imagine.”
When we asked her what advice she has for young adults, she dared them to grow.
“I dare you to participate, to push yourself to grow,” she said. “It is not as difficult as you think, and you can do it. If you believe you can, that’s the basis for everything.”