Hello. My name is Julio Herrera and I am 28 years old. I have one parent (my mother) and three sisters. I was born and grew up in a small town called Tactic in the north of Guatemala; I have lived there my entire life. My family and I have moved to different houses three times over the years, but we have never left Tactic. It is a beautiful place.

I studied in elementary school in a public school. I was a very respectful, friendly, and a good student. As a child I really enjoyed playing with my friends, especially basketball and videogames. Also, I used to ride my bicycle around Tactic and visit my grandmothers and cousins. 

I wanted to study chemistry, but I chose business administration instead because I felt that one of the skills that is most difficult to achieve is leadership. I lack confidence and I can be very pessimistic sometimes; that is why I know that if I study this career I will be able to leave that in the past and become a true leader, someone who can control their emotions and make the best decisions. 

Of course it was difficult at the beginning because business administration was at first something that did not interest me, but I started loving the career little by little and now I am one of the best students in my class.

My plan for the future is that I would like to create and start my own business, and be the CEO. Through that entrepreneurship I also would like to provide jobs and opportunities for those who need them in my little town. This plan includes helping my family as well. My father passed away 5 years ago, so I want to help my mother support my little sister with her studies, and also help with the household expenses. 

Right now, I am teaching English online and I will not stop doing so; it is one of my passions because I feel I am contributing to my town’s development for a better future.

Education System Glossary

Since the Guatemalan government only funds education to the end of elementary school, it is not all that common, especially in the rural areas, for someone to graduate from middle school. Thus, these students are awarded an actual degree, called the Basico, which carries some weight when looking for a job, etc.

High school comes in a variety of flavors in Guatemala. All of course are private, and there are seemingly as many curriculums as there are schools. Some high schools focus on particular careers, such as teaching, accounting, surveying, etc. Usually, it takes 3-4 years to complete, and they are awarded with a certificate of competency at the end. In teaching, the certificate entitles one to teach at the elementary school level only. More academically-oriented high schools have a curriculum similar to US schools, which includes language arts, math, science, history, etc. These typically require 4-5 years to complete, and graduates are awarded the Diversificado degree, which is required if the student wishes to continue their education at the University level. This is the degree that most GSSG-supported high school students are pursuing.

The University system in Guatemala is like the high school system, in that there are many degrees, and many ways to get a degree. There is only one public university, the University of San Carlos, and about a dozen private universities. Like high school, students can decide early to specialize in a particular field, and after 2-3 years, graduate with a “tecnico” degree. In education, this degree awards them the title of “Profesor”, and qualifies them to teach all the way through high school. For those wishing to go further in Education or other fields, there is the “Licenciatura” degree, which is awarded after four years of study in one’s major plus an additional year researching and writing a thesis that addresses some national problem in Guatemala. So far, three GSSG students have been awarded their Licenciatura degree, with several more hoping to have theirs by next year.

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