In the heart of Central America, Guatemala’s economy is the largest in the region, yet it grapples with some of the most staggering rates of poverty, malnutrition, and access to education in Latin America. These challenges strike hardest in rural, indigenous communities like Chajul. As we conclude Colegio Horizontes’ second school year, and with these challenges and opportunities in mind, we’re sharing one of our student’s stories of hope, progress, and resilience this holiday and giving season.
Core to our mission is our commitment to making an impact for girls like Evelyn, who just completed 8th grade at Colegio Horizontes. School Director Odilia Cedillo says, “these students are achieving far more in academics, confidence, and critical thinking than we ever thought would be possible in such a short period of time.” Students are gaining knowledge that equips them for careers in STEM fields, holding promise of a better future for both their community and their country.
Evelyn aspires to carve a path not only for herself but for her classmates and future generations. While she is up against the intersectionalities of gender (female), class (extremely impoverished), ethnicity (Maya Ixil), language (Ixil), and geography (rural), she is determined to become a trailblazer in male-dominated fields. In a community with 93% of the population living in poverty and just 4% graduating high school, Evelyn isn’t afraid to take on complex issues and make meaningful contributions to her community.
Juana, Evelyn’s mom, noticed her love for math from an early age, noting that she immensely enjoyed counting. Although Evelyn’s passion for numbers developed early, her interest in science only blossomed when she started at Colegio Horizontes. Now, her favorite subjects are science and technology. Evelyn aspires to be a science or math teacher to provide future generations with educational opportunities like her own, or she hopes to pursue a degree in paleontology as she is fascinated by fossils. At school, she’s surrounded by role models like Cecilia Xinic, her technology teacher, who was the first woman from Chajul to study computer science in college. This has inspired Evelyn to pursue her own dreams of higher education.
When not at school peering through a microscope or gazing at constellations in the night sky, Evelyn returns to her modest adobe home where she lives with her mother, two younger brothers, and grandparents. Together they gather around the open fire of their cookstove, staying warm as Evelyn fills them in on the details of her school day in their native Ixil language. Sometimes her brothers also excitedly tell everyone about the STEM projects they worked on at our community library that day as well. Oftentimes, the evening leads to Evelyn curling up with a book she borrowed from the library, as Juana weaves an intricate huipil on her backstrap loom. Juana sells her weavings to provide for her family, and is so proud to witness her daughter thrive in middle school, a privilege she herself was denied. When the pandemic disrupted the world, Juana feared that Evelyn wouldn’t be able to go back to school, but this changed when she received a Colegio Horizontes scholarship. Now, Evelyn leads the way, earning the highest grades in school while also helping her classmates succeed.
“Evelyn is very intelligent, humble, and empathetic. She always supports her classmates and has a strong vision to promote equity and gender equality through community projects, all of which will support a change in the community.” – Olga, School Mentor
This giving season, we hope you’ll support girls like Evelyn who are on track to create a brighter future for their family, community, and country. Together, we will open more doors to quality education that will prepare and empower Chajul’s students to pursue in-demand career paths such as science teachers, medical professionals, computer scientists, and engineers. Local talent is highly needed in the rural indigenous villages in and around Chajul in order to create needed infrastructure and healthy communities.
Join us in supporting Chajul’s girls in STEM — together we can impact a generation of changemakers as they lead the way to new opportunities for their community!