November 22, 2017
Her friends, her family and even her teachers thought it impossible. Yes, her grades were excellent. But to study in faraway Germany, at Jacobs University, her? How was she going to do that? Her father, a bus driver, died when she was eight years old. Her mother did not finish school and money was always tight in the family. But Misley Granados Valverde is a fighter - the Costa Rican did it - with the help of a scholarship generously supported by the Jacobs Alumni Association, who reunites the graduates of Jacobs University. The 19-year-old has been studying physics at the international university in Bremen since September.
She says she always had a talent for mathematics, formulae and calculations. That came from her father. “He was able to do the most difficult calculations in his head although he had no high school education”. Mathematics comes naturally to her, it is a broad and creative subject and there are many different ways to solve a problem.
At age 15 she took part in the Physics Olympiad and could have studied in Costa Rica at the University of Costa Rica, but she did not want to do that. She felt she had to go to Bremen. “I love my country, but it offers few opportunities for learning and developing yourself further as the standards are low. It’s completely different at Jacobs University. The support that you receive and the opportunities that you have are simply fantastic”.
Her path to Bremen was long and beset with difficulties. Misley studied hard to improve her grades and knocked on every door in Costa Rica in order to obtain a scholarship – in vain. “When I received the offer of a place at the university and the scholarship, I was overjoyed – my dreams were fulfilled. It means a lot to me that people on the other side of the world want to support and place their trust in me”. Criteria such as capability, need, social commitment and persuasiveness are critical for receiving the award of the Jacobs University Bremen Alumni Association. On the other hand, the student will benefit from a dedicated Alumni Mentoring during her study at Jacobs University.
Her plane landed in the north of Germany at the end of August. First impression? “The people are very helpful, direct and much more punctual than in Costa Rica”. Of course, there is also the weather, the cold and the different food... She lives in one of the four student residences on the university’s campus, Krupp College. Although she has now found friends, she of course sometimes becomes homesick for her grandfather, with whom she last lived, her mother, friends and cats. “But I’m learning such a lot – I love it here”.
The classes at Jacobs University are small. Just around a dozen fellow students from different countries have started the physics course with her. They have a close relationship with their professors. “All of them are passionate about their subject”, she says but she does notice a few gaps in her knowledge. She has to catch up on a few things that she was not taught in Costa Rica. “It’s challenging but also a lot of fun”. Especially as she is a fighter, also outside of the lecture rooms. She did karate in Costa Rica and attends martial arts classes, which practice a variety of fighting skills, twice a week at Jacobs University.
Her goals are clear: After her Bachelor’s degree, she would like to do her Masters, if possible in theoretical physics or astrophysics, in order to do research later. “That’s where I see myself”.