Norma, 21, was our first university graduate. She graduated in 2015 from the Universidad Católica de El Salvador with an Advanced Technical Certificate in Tourism Management. She was able to find a job with a bakery chain called Pan Lilian before she officially received her degree thanks to connections she made while in school. In a country with high rates of unemployment, finding a job so quickly after graduation is rare. 

Norma lives at home with her father, a farm worker, her mother, who cleans houses, her two older sisters and her two brothers–one older and one younger.  

We asked Normita to answer a few questions to help you get to know her better. Below are her responses!

What are some of your professional aspirations?

To work as a travel agent and tour guide.

Why do you think your education is important?

It’s really important because I am acquiring all kinds of new knowledge. And by being able to demonstrate my abilities and the skills I’ve learned, I can combat ignorance. Education allows us to become better, more efficient people who can continue to develop as leaders.

Describe someone who has inspired or motivated you.

My sister, Milagro because, in spite of everything she’s suffered, she is the one who motivates me to keep studying, to attain all my goals and to help my neighbors. I admire her so much and she sets such a great example for me to follow. I’ve always had her support and she still encourages me to this day.

How has the crime/violence in this country affected you personally?

The crime in my country is terrible. Seeing the family members of those who have died because of the violence has had a big impact on me. It makes you feel really unsafe to go out and see that so many people are dying who shouldn’t have to die, especially in such a horrible way. It’s really painful. Attacks happen very frequently on public buses.

How do you think positive change can come about in your community or country?

I’d like to see young people get involved in activities that are beneficial to them, whether it’s working in a small business like a bakery, pupuseria, or a farm. Anything that helps them distance themselves from gang activity and allows them to become better, more productive people.

Tell us about your community service project.

I am working on the Clean Water Project with six other classmates, which involves us going to visit the homes of people who’ve received water filters [through the scholarship program]. We check on how the filter is being used and explain how it should be used as well as the health benefits that clean water provides for our families. And that’s what makes it important to me, knowing that we are instilling in people hygienic habits and helping them take advantage of better health.

What do you do in your free time? 

I read my textbooks and take notes, and I also like to sing and write songs.

What is your favorite book or genre?

The Bible is my favorite book, alongside educational books.

What is your favorite music?

Christian music, like the group Forgiven.

What are your best qualities?

I’m motivated, I take initiative, I’m caring, hard-working, optimistic, responsible, sociable, and I’m a good leader.

What is something surprising about you that only a few people know?

I’m a singer and am part of a Christian music group.

What would you say if you could speak face-to-face with your sponsors?

Meeting my sponsors and having the opportunity to talk to them would be a huge surprise for me. I would tell them that it’s a tremendous blessing to meet them and a blessing that they decided to be my sponsors. I would thank God for giving me the opportunity to meet them in person. I’d say, “Thank you for supporting me so I can continue my education.” I would ask them, “What does it feel like to serve others, and what do you expect from them?”