(Photo: Tec de Monterrey)

The lives of the 185 young students were changed amid the Covid-19 pandemic. They were selected for the 2020 class of Tecnológico de Monterrey’s Leaders of Tomorrow.

The scholarship program chooses students for excellence across the country, high-performing students with leadership skills, and sponsors them by covering their full tuition costs during their university studies. This year, 14,000 young people began the process of applying for the scholarship.

Seven years ago, the program began with thousands of interested people each year and has sponsored 1,345 students so far.

On this occasion, the new class in the program was welcomed remotely due to the pandemic lockdown.

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Incredible Uncertainty

The chairman of the Board of Directors of Tec de Monterrey, José Antonio Fernández, called the moment an “incredible uncertainty”. On welcoming the students, he told them they’ll face great challenges.

“We can think back to the Spanish Flu, the Black Death. We’re experiencing a process of great uncertainty. It’s been 100 years since the last big pandemic, and we’re a generation that had no idea how a catastrophe of this magnitude was going to unfold,” he explained.

However, Fernández said that young people have a great opportunity to discover how to overcome its challenges.

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“We need to understand how this large unexpected obstacle should be an opportunity to dare to carry out our daily lives differently. You are a generation of privileged young people because you have in your hands the ability to do great things in a world that has changed forever.”

Eduardo Osuna, CEO of BBVA (the appointed godfather of this year’s cohort) stated that while they’ll be remembered as “the Covid generation”, they can take advantage of these circumstances.

“It’s our turn to live in a globalized, interdependent world. If this pandemic had happened a few years ago, it would’ve been impossible to hold an event like this remotely. A microscopic virus has shown us the vulnerability of the human race. You’ll be remembered as the Covid-19 generation. This will pass, there will be a cure, they will develop vaccines. There will be suffering, but it will pass. It is up to you to profit from this turning point.”

In addition, he said that the country was better prepared to deal with an economic crisis than with the one that occurred, for example, in 1994.

“This should be an inflection point to build opportunities for all. The big transformers are always young people,” he said.

David Garza Salazar, Director of the Tecnológico de Monterrey, also welcomed the young people.

“You are a small fraction of talented young people who are studying at the best universities in the world. Now, with this opportunity given to you, you’ll be able to go further. It is a lever that will help you develop to your full potential for the benefit of your communities and your country. We’re aware that you couldn’t have imagined that you’d be starting your university studies in the middle of a pandemic, but you’re not spending time thinking ‘why did this have to happen to us?’ The pandemic brings us challenges but also huge satisfactions. Students have shown us that their dreams are stronger,” he advised.

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Fear of change

Jesús Hernández, a graduate in Industrial Engineering and Systems from the Veracruz Campus, connected remotely to the welcoming event to share his experience as one of the recipients of the Leaders of Tomorrow program. Having graduated a year ago, he’s already working at Heineken and has a position as coordinator in Orizaba.

“Sometimes we’re afraid of the change of moving from academic life to work life. Tec de Monterrey has instilled a change in me,” he explained.

Celia Morales, another of the recipients of the initiative, said many of her experiences have been small, but they represent a big change for her, such as traveling on a plane or receiving a scholarship.

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