Maria Elena graduated from high school last year and was an outstanding student in one of our pre-university academies. She is the youngest of three children and studied in an alternative-schedule school, where she spent two weeks in school and two weeks at home, and therefore could have access to secondary education although she lived in a small and isolated community in the province of Paruro, Cusco . Her two older brothers are day workers, and she is the first in her family to finish high school.
Thanks to the pre-university academy project, Maria Elena prepared well for the university entrance exam and earned one of the few available openings in the chemistry program. However, she did not have the resources to cover the cost of living in Cusco to study, so Alma included her in our Alma Alumni program, which supports standout students from all of our projects to continue studying in university. Alma supports her with housing in Cusco and with the cost of tuition. Her parents cover the cost of food, transportation, and school supplies. Maria Elena started this October with her studies, and we are excited to see her fulfill her dreams!
Access to higher education is very limited for women from rural and economically marginalized regions of Peru for several reasons: the low quality of rural education, no access to pre-university preparation and the difficulty of entrance exams, the cost of moving and living in a city, preference of sending men to higher education instead of women, etc.
To support Maria Elena’s university studies is to give her the opportunity she needs to improve the socio-economic conditions of her and her family. Women who manage to graduate from university not only have higher income, but there is also less likelihood of domestic or sexual abuse for them and their children. Supporting Maria Elena will improve the quality of life for her family, her community, and eventually, the future generations of Peru!