Hometown: San Marcos
Current employment: Country coordinator for an international nonprofit dedicated to improving communities through entrepreneurial action
“One year, I was in the hospital for five months. . . . My teachers came to give me my lessons bedside and my classmates brought me school supplies and letters of encouragement.”
Evelyn grew up in a small town nestled in the high western mountains of Guatemala. The lives of Evelyn and her family changed radically when, at the age of three, she was diagnosed with leukemia. Much of her early education took place in a hospital bed. Evelyn won a scholarship to a private school, which covered the cost of tuition, but her family, strapped with hospital bills, relied on the donations of local nuns for her books and school supplies. As Evelyn grew older, she became aware of the nature of her illness and the costs of her treatment. Though she considered dropping out of school to work, Evelyn’s parents encouraged her to stay in school, and she graduated from high school at the top of her class.
“If a neighbor has a son or daughter who wants to attend a university, they will ask my parents, ‘When is Evelyn coming to town? We want to ask her some questions.’ I am still the same person, but now I have experience I can share with my community.”
Evelyn works as the country coordinator in Guatemala of an international organization that brings together CEOs from the country’s most successful businesses with students from local universities. Together, they work to develop business ideas that benefit local communities. Evelyn estimates that in 2012 close to twenty-five thousand Guatemalans benefitted from their projects. Evelyn returns frequently to San Marcos, where she participates in local efforts driven by the young people there. Her unique academic success has made her a role model and a source of university information in her town; in fact, the local radio station has interviewed her twice about her education and work experience.