For as long as she can remember, María Jose Jaramillo has been incredibly determined and ambitious. Alongside impressive academic achievements, she immersed herself in extracurricular activities such as her school’s newspaper and robotics society, as well as roller skating at a national level. But as thoughts of university approached, María’s hard work and drive to succeed were about to take her on her biggest adventure yet.

In 2020, María became the first student enrolled at IE University in Madrid, Spain, under the Young Talented Leaders Scholarship, which is sponsored by Cubico Sustainable Investments and Celsia, and supported by the IE Foundation. Having grown up in Medellín, Colombia, the scholarship has opened doors for María to pursue her education abroad, granting access to a world of opportunities previously beyond her reach.

Now in the fourth and final year of her “dream degree”, Business Administration and International Relations, María sat down with us to share details on her educational journey, the life-changing scholarship and her future ambitions.

It’s a really big decision to move across the world to study. What inspired you to do this?

Since a very young age I have wanted to study abroad as I saw so many opportunities for growth outside of my home country. Having the chance to leave the comforts of my hometown, become more open-minded and explore different perspectives felt like an opportunity not to be missed.

It also provided a platform to share my culture and change people’s opinions on Colombia, and more specifically, Medellín. I knew that leaving Colombia would allow me to grow personally and professionally, giving me a range of knowledge and skills which I could use to benefit the future of my country.

What made you apply for the Young Talented Leaders Scholarship?

I saw this scholarship opportunity and thought it was a perfect mix; it felt like I would be valued as a person as well as a future professional. It also demonstrated that Cubico and Celsia were passionate about building an inclusive and sustainable future by trusting and supporting young talent.

For me it seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime as it could open a lot of doors to different people and experiences throughout my academic journey, as well as my future career. I believed that my work ethic and high personal and academic standards would make me a perfect fit for an opportunity like this.

How would you describe your experience at IE University so far?

Honestly, it has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me and I have grown so much, both personally and professionally. First of all, it is an honour to represent the scholarship and to know that Cubico and Celsia are supporting me and trusting in my potential is great. Living by myself on the other side of the world has been a whole new experience; I have become more mature, more responsible and I now have clear goals for my future.

What opportunities has the scholarship provided that might not have otherwise been available to you?

I have had the opportunity to build a life abroad, which in itself is so valuable. It has allowed me to make friends and learn from a variety of different cultures, giving me a better perspective of our constantly evolving world.

Also, access to incredible resources and the opportunity to study my dream combination of Business Administration and International Relations is something I would not have had back home.

The scholarship has also allowed me to be part of the IE Foundation Fellows Program, giving me access to networking opportunities with so many talented individuals. It is amazing to have so many knowledgeable people surrounding me.

In addition to the scholarship, what support has Cubico offered?

Having the relationship with Cubico has helped me to understand the motivations of the company and opened my eyes to what they are doing to build a better and brighter future.

With Cubico, I have a network of support including the likes of Olga Garcia, General Counsel & Head of Corporate Affairs, who has encouraged and motivated me to explore every corner of this opportunity. The whole Cubico team genuinely wants to support me and for me to be happy throughout my journey. It is a very special contact to have.

What are your hopes and aspirations the future?

First of all, I would like to finish my university journey successfully, having taken advantage of as many resources and opportunities as I can. I’m eager to do everything I can to become an excellent professional and continue to grow by gaining knowledge, skills and a greater global perspective along the way. I’m most passionate about business and becoming a part of something bigger to allow me to give back to my country and help give others the opportunity I had.

Finally, what advice would you give to someone who is considering applying for this scholarship?

Believe in yourself and what you can achieve. Find the right balance of determination, organisation and discipline to help get you to the place you are aiming for. Try to be the best version of yourself; this is equally as important as academic performance.

The Young Talented Leaders Scholarship has been designed to support gifted students from Colombia, one of Cubico’s core markets. It is funded through Caoba, a 1,500km transmission line platform with more than 100 substations, jointly owned by Cubico and Celsia.

In addition to Caoba, Cubico and Celsia have a joint venture to develop solar PV projects in Colombia. The platform’s installed operational capacity of nearly 300 MWp and further 200 MWp under construction and development make it one of the largest in the country.