One of the oldest programs of the “la Caixa” Foundation is the scholarship program for postgraduate students, which is already forty years old. Since 1982, this entity has supported more than 3,600 young university talents from various disciplines, who have been able to continue their studies in the best academic centers and universities in the world.
The project was born from the firm conviction that research, scientific progress, professional qualification and interaction with other cultures and countries are fundamental factors for the development of people, without exclusion, and also of society as a whole.
The foundation's scholarships have opted to provide comprehensive assistance to students, before, during and after finishing their training, with complementary services and benefits, in order to provide the most enriching experience possible. Thus, in addition to the total cost of enrollment, the program covers a monthly stipend in the currency of the country of destination.
In addition, the “la Caixa” Foundation takes care of travel expenses and also of an orientation course, thanks to which students have the opportunity to establish personal and academic links with their classmates before joining their respective universities.
Last Wednesday, July 20, the award ceremony for postgraduate scholarships abroad for this fortieth edition took place, chaired by Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain, and also attended by the Minister of Education and Vocational Training, Pilar Alegría, and the president of the “la Caixa” Foundation, Isidro Fainé.
At the event, held at CaixaForum Madrid, Fainé addressed the 120 university students selected in the 2021 call to encourage them to continue their brilliant path, "seeking the impulse of three powerful levers: effort, passion and the illusion of building, with social sense, a better world. If you unite these three elements, then you will be unstoppable, and, even more important, you will be able to give meaning and fulfillment to your lives”.
On behalf of the group of scholarship holders of the "la Caixa" Foundation, the person in charge of the World Campaign Against Ageism of the World Health Organization (WHO), Vânia de la Fuente Núñez, intervened, stating that "this scholarship is much more than financial support to promote knowledge and satisfy individual curiosity”.
For de la Fuente Núñez, who completed a Master's in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in 2013 at the University College of London (UCL) with a postgraduate scholarship abroad granted by the foundation, the experience that these young people are about to live it goes far beyond the formative period; in fact, it is something that they will always carry with them. "The most important thing you receive today is an unparalleled support platform that will continue with you throughout your career," she stressed.
Of the 120 scholarship holders in the 2021 call, 41% are women and 59% are men. Among the selected disciplines, engineering and technology training (22) stand out, followed by economic and business sciences (9), international relations (7), physical sciences (6), medical and health sciences (6). ), law (6) and music (6).
The scholarships have been distributed among universities and research centers in Europe (68) and North America (52). The most requested countries have been the United States (47) and the United Kingdom (34).
Each of the winners has a personal story, in which effort, enthusiasm and the desire to continue learning come together. This is what we see when listening, for example, to Guillem Casadesús, a young man who is about to study a Master's degree in Aerospace Engineering at Stanford University to expand his knowledge in the branch that most attracts him, space communication through satellites or through of the scan. For Casadesús, meeting his classmates and being able to see his talent and potential has served to make him even more aware of the importance of this recognition that he has just received.
Manuel Bouzas, meanwhile, will attend the Harvard Graduate School of Design, focused on architecture, landscape and urban planning, to take a two-year master's degree in which research plays an important role. His objective is to rethink how we are going to build in the future, taking into account ecological criteria, the circular economy and the need to reduce the carbon footprint in all processes. Talents like that of Bouzas will be essential to design urban environments for "a more desirable, fair and sustainable future".
Another young woman with a bright promise is María Armero, who is now pursuing a Master's degree in Immunology at Imperial College of London. Her passion is to get to know the human immune system in depth, which, as she herself explains, is involved in numerous pathologies, in order to be able to create new therapies.
Guillem, Manuel and María are three perfect examples of how necessary it is to bet on the future of the new generations. As Fainé rightly pointed out in his speech, "investment in education and research is the best way to advance towards progress and social welfare for all".
Forty years after the launch of this initiative, the “la Caixa” Foundation Scholars Association is now made up of more than 5,700 people who, after receiving training in prestigious centres, have become academic and professional benchmarks, both in Spain and internationally.