Engineering major Juan Samaniego ’22 had long dreamed of leaving his hometown of Quito, Ecuador, to attend college in the United States.
Despite his hard work and selection to the Fulbright Commission Opportunity Funds program—which provides assistance to talented students seeking to study abroad—Samaniego had given up on his dream. “I wanted to study engineering but I thought a big public university would be too big for me,” he said. “And even though I had scholarships, studying here wasn’t affordable for my family.”
Not to be deterred, Megan Otermat, assistant director of international admission, kept in touch with Samaniego. She encouraged him to consider North Central’s new engineering programs and to apply for a Trustee Scholarship, awarded to international students to help cover their tuition. Samaniego wrote the essays and submitted the application two days before the deadline. “I was in class one day and I saw three words come across my phone: 'Congratulations! You have …'”
In his first term, Samaniego fully immersed himself in the culture of North Central College, attending International Club and Project Lead retreats. He’s especially excited about researching sustainable, affordable building materials so he can take what he’s learned back to Ecuador—perhaps after earning an MBA. Samaniego summarized his journey to North Central and his future this way: “Everything is lining up perfectly.”