Hometown: Baja Verapaz
Current employment: Economics director at a private foundation
“The problem with my town is that even if you graduate from high school, the most you can hope for is to work as a small farmer or a chance to own a small store.”
Paul grew up in Baja Verapaz, where most students never make it past elementary school, and where most people support themselves growing black beans, tomatoes, lettuce, chili peppers, and squash. Paul’s parents were unique in their town. Paul’s father was a teacher and radio announcer whose greatest passion was reading. Although Paul’s mother dropped out of school before completing sixth grade, at the age of thirty, she went back to school and became a teacher. Paul acquired a voracious appetite for reading from his father and he won a number of essay and short-story contests at his school. Paul dreamed of attending a university, but all of the public high schools in his town offered the same technical training programs found throughout the country. He selected what seemed like the next best option and enrolled in a high school program to become a teacher, like his parents.
“My mother talked about my scholarship all the time, so students could see what was possible. . . . She helped inspire three future ITA scholars.”
After graduating magna cum laude from Universidad Francisco Marroquín in 2005, Paul went to Chile to earn a master’s degree in economics. He then worked as director of economics at a Guatemalan business alliance. There, he analyzed the Guatemalan and global economic climate and advocated for business interests in both local and international forums. Paul currently works as director of economics at a private foundation that promotes the principles of freedom and the rule of law throughout Guatemala and Central America.