“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”
Cielo is a proud Class of 2021 graduate, who has excelled in everything from the classroom to the #KKISFearGoodbye challenge, inspiring others along the way. Like many of the other long-time KKIS Scholars, Cielo has been a part of KKIS for the past six years, which has allowed KKIS to follow her journey and see her grow into the driven and intelligent woman she is today on her powerful journey to graduation.
“I knew what I wanted from the time I was very young, although I knew that I would really have to fight for it! My parents had to make so many sacrifices in their own lives to be able to afford to send me to school; so, when KKIS became a part of my life, they supported me in ways I would have never imagined and I began a six-year journey with them to get to where I am today: a university graduate!”
So how did this journey start for young Cielo? It began when she was in high school, going through a particularly rough time, both personally and academically. “I was a very rebellious teenager and began to have many problems at school. At one point it got so bad that my mom had to take me out of school and send me to another, and honestly, I didn’t think I’d ever make it through high school. The KKIS scholarship I was awarded saved my life because I was in a very vulnerable state. If I hadn’t had the tools to continue studying, I can’t imagine what would have happened to me at the time.”
Despite the emotional turmoil she was going through, Cielo understood the importance of getting an education. “To me, education is the greatest door in life, we are never done learning. Pursuing a degree not only allows you to acquire new knowledge and skills but also helps you reach your full potential and broaden your horizons, both personally and professionally,” shares Cielo.
“I was one of the first 10 students chosen by The KKIS Project to be awarded a scholarship. I had struggled to enroll in high school because of my financial situation and I didn’t know if I would be able to stay in school, until one day, my teachers announced that they were looking for candidates to award scholarships to. I got really excited because I knew that if they gave me that scholarship I would be able to continue my studies. After a few days, they told me that I had been awarded the scholarship, and it was then that I knew I really wanted to keep going!”
Besides motivating her to step up in terms of academics, Cielo was one to really reap the benefits that the KKIS programs have to offer. “Adolescence was the stage that has marked me the most, I had a very rough time and had to go to therapy for many years, something that was encouraged by KKIS and my Advisor, Sara, who I can never thank enough.”
After graduating from high school, Cielo knew she couldn’t afford to go to college. But then, to her surprise, she was awarded a university scholarship, thanks to a different set of sponsors. “When I found out that I got it, I immediately started to cry. At that moment, I understood that I could achieve so many things. In a sense, KKIS rescued me, because I was struggling with emotional problems at the time and when they gave me this scholarship, they gave me a reason to keep going. I understood that nobody can stop me and that I am capable of achieving everything I set out to do!”
The scholarship program that KKIS offers students goes well beyond the classroom and offers students the tools they need to face the world after they graduate. “The Advisory sessions have taught me how to face an audience, and Sara, my Advisor, has given me the tools I need to go out and face real life. I have learned techniques to speak in public, how to identify my goals and how to create a strong plan of what I want and can do.”
As part of The KKIS Project’s 10th Anniversary Celebrations, KKIS Scholars were invited to share their greatest fear and how they overcame it. Cielo was the lucky winner of a tandem sky-dive, which lifted her out of her comfort zone, and –quite literally– into the sky! “Fear is the only thing that can limit or motivate us to do something. No matter how many times I fail, I will always get up again, each time a little stronger and a little more confident in who I am. This whole experience really taught me that the sky is the limit and that there is nothing standing between me and my goals!”
Today, Cielo is a strong young woman who believes in herself and her dreams. So, what does the future hold for her? No one can explain it better than Cielo, herself. “I see myself as a true businesswoman. I see myself with my own office, working with teens and pursuing a master’s this way, I could work with teenagers to prevent, raise awareness, and identify situations in their daily life, such as sexuality, drug addiction, emotional intelligence, emotions, among other things. I want to be a guide for them.”
The takeaway here is that each and every one of the KKIS Scholars is smart enough to do anything. They have the time to do it, they have the support from their sponsors and a wonderful team of Advisors, they have the programs necessary to excel and the tools they need to face real life. All they really need to do besides putting in the work is to enjoy the ride!
“My journey with KKIS has transformed me as a person and I will be eternally grateful after my graduation. I can see how KKIS is growing and I am sure that each new student they sponsor is someone who is going to fulfill a dream and who is going to give the best of himself, just as KKIS gives the best to us too. My dream is for KKIS to keep growing and for new sponsors to help more children continue their studies.”
Over the past 10 years, The KKIS Project has come a long way, but there is still so much more room to grow. We hope that year by year, more people understand that giving education has a ripple effect, which extends way beyond graduation, and into the families and communities of the people involved. As Nelson Mandela stated, “The power of education extends beyond the development of skills we need for economic success. It can contribute to nation-building and reconciliation.”