The most important form of wealth is human capital. Knowledge, talent and intelligence is what matters the most. And education plays a key role in bringing this human capital to its full potential.
Almost 20 years ago, we created Plantel Azteca, a school of excellence that provides free education for students from low-income families. During this period, Plantel Azteca has delivered tremendous results. But how is the success of an academic institution measured? The answer is very simple: by the achievements of its students. With this in mind, we are publishing a series of case studies of our school’s most successful graduates.
Education is the only way to boost our human capital and that makes it the cornerstone of our future. I’m proud to see that the seed we sowed two decades ago is now bearing fruit and multiplying in success stories of our graduates who contribute to the development of Mexico.
I would like to share one more of these case studies, which also show us that the desire for improvement has no limits.
Ariadna Itzel Reyes stood out due to her brilliant academic performance, winning awards in national knowledge olympics and other high-level competitions. However, living in a poor area of Tlalnepantla, in the State of Mexico, her situation was difficult. Her father, who has always been a man of effort, had two jobs. However, the family’s finances were very complicated, and Ariadna’s promising future was by no means assured.
Fortunately, the picture changed radically for this young promising talent when she became part of Plantel Azteca's first generation of students in 1997, at the age of eleven. During her middle and high school years, she excelled with leadership skills under intense academic pressure. She studied science, technology and was a top student. But the subject the captivated her most was environmental protection.
Ariadna graduated with honors, and decided to focus on promoting concrete actions to strengthen environmental responsibility environmental responsibility in the world. Her goals were very noble, and she had the courage and boldness to fight for them.
She studied civil engineering at the National Polytechnic Institute. Her goal was to build cities in a different way, seeking a harmonious coexistence between communities and their habitat.
Ariadna soon demonstrated her skills in physics, mathematics, and construction. She learned to build in a way that respects an ecological balance. Her undergraduate thesis was original enough to surprise her professors and was even implemented. She devised a way to construct dignified, comfortable spaces at a low cost, a premise that was put in place in social rehabilitation centers and prisons throughout the country.
Always ahead of her generation, Ariadna was already working toward a master's degree in environmental engineering at the age of 22, with an even more innovative thesis. She developed the first inventory of greenhouse gases on a university campus in Mexico. It was such a resounding success, that the model was hailed by national environmentalists, NGOs, and even the Mexican federal government.
The North American based Commission for Environmental Cooperationinvited this young Plantel Azteca graduate to present her research in the United States. It was then that the Mexican Nobel Prize winner Mario Molina invited her to work with him.
At the Mario Molina Center, Ariadna developed research to evaluate housing sustainability in Mexico, highlighting public housing policies that oblige poor people to live in poorly planned housing developments, far from job opportunities, education, and quality health care.
As a result of her work, Ariadna received a recommendation from Mario Molina to enroll in a doctoral program in urban and regional planning at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. With such accomplishments under her belt, she obtained one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world, the Fulbright.
Currently, at the age of 30 and with half of her doctorate completed, she has successfully presented her research not only in the United States, but throughout the Americas in countries such as Canada, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic, where she lived for several months conducting studies in sustainability and environmental justice in informal habitats, bringing progress and well-being to the most marginalized areas.
Ariadna is planning to return to Mexico soon to promote comprehensive public policies that allow low-income people access to decent housing.
At Plantel Azteca, we not only train young people academically. We also provide them with the tools and skills required to be world-class professionals. That is why I am convinced that Plantel Azteca is an excellent investment that will contribute to Mexico’s progress and well-being.