TOP TEN Students

They are used to getting the best grades in exams, to being outstanding students and congratulated for their talent by their friends and family although they find it hard to boast about it in public. But the truth is, their track record is impeccable. An average grade of ten on their academic records leaves no doubt about it.  They are six of the best students at the Private Foundation Institute for Further Education of the Pompeu Fabra University, who have this year received the Talent Scholarship for their brilliant academic records.

Just by looking at them it is evident that talent makes no distinction between age, nationality, work experience nor vocation. Jordi Roca is a computer programmer, 38 years old. He is currently reading the Master in Digital Arts at the IDEC-UPF. ‘The key is in liking what you do’. He recognizes that he no longer feels passionate about his job as computer programmer and needs to exploit his more artistic and creative side. ‘The digital arts allow me to take advantage of my computer knowledge while opening new doors into a future career in the world of art and new digital technology that I really love. He admits that he now spends a lot more of his time studying than before but he attributes this to his aspiration and desire to learn more and faster. ‘For me it is a total change of career. I used to want to work in a company but I now think that I am the one who should create my own job’.

Marcella Marinelli’s vocation led her to study Economics in her home country, Italy. She received her doctorate and studied a year at Berkeley University, California. Having finished her doctorate, she moved to Barcelona. She had already become interested in statistics during her doctoral thesis, and they employed her at the Hospital Clinic to work as a statistics consultant for a group of hepatologists. As a result, she read a Master in Statistics and Operative Research with biostatistical orientation. At the end of the Master, she was offered a place as postdoc researcher at the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL) for genetic epidemiology studies in children. She currently works as statistician and research technician for CIBER in AQUAS (Agència de Qualitat i Avaluació Sanitària de Catalunya) and for this reason she decided to read the Master in Pharmacoeconomics and Health Economics. ‘I wanted to widen my knowledge and begin research projects within the institution for which I am working’. Professionalism is the most important thing for her and continuous training is a way to keep moving forward.

However, being so good at everything sometimes has its disadvantages. ‘I found it hard to know what I wanted to be’, admits Iva Boytcheva. This young Bulgarian of 30 years of age grew up in Germany. There she studied Design and costumes. Four years ago she came to Barcelona to study a master in Culture and Communication and this year she has started the Master in Art Therapy. ‘I chose the Pompeu Fabra because it is one of the few places that teaches Art therapy’. Art Therapy is a discipline that uses art and visual aids to access the inside world of people as a channel of artistic communication. ‘It is true that in Europe it is becoming more and more recognized and I think it is an area to which I can apply all of my knowledge, something I am good at, I enjoy, and which I can use to help society. In her case, studying was not the most difficult part. ‘Spending a lot of time studying was not the big sacrifice I had to make, but leaving so many people and things behind in each move was’.

Gianluigi Usai feels the same way. At 25 years of age, this young Italian decided to come to Barcelona to advance his studies and his languages. He is reading a University Master in Business Financial and Accounting Management. ‘It’s true that I have had to leave friends and family behind for a time, but I think it is a question of priorities and the right moment. I feel that this is what I have to do right now. He admits that future of employment in Europe is not hopeful but he is convinced that there must be a place for him. ‘I have done a few interviews and the truth is that they do demand a good curriculum, masters, languages, experience... but then the salary they are offering is not proportional. They all agree on that point: Europe is at a critical stage. ‘The scenario is not encouraging and however good your CV looks or however professional you are, it is pretty difficult to get a good position.  He is young but has clear expectations. ‘I’m looking for a big or small company, I don’t mind which, as long as it invests in its employees, with real desires to train and progress’. He still hasn’t decided where he would like to end up, whether here in Barcelona, in Italy or somewhere else. ‘I’m taking each step as it comes. I still haven’t decided’.

Youngsters who want to conquer the world

Lena Carina Raps and Sharon Zhengyang are the youngest ones, just 23 and 24 years old, from Germany and Canada respectively. Both are reading the same programme: The Master of Science in International Business in Barcelona School of Management and ESCI. They chose it for its methodology and because it is entirely taught in English. ‘The practical training offered by the master especially interested me, as well as being able to participate in multi-disciplinary groups, work teams that apply real case studies’, states Lena. The Masters of Science programmes differ from more conventional programmes in their innovative, learning methodology, based on analysis, and the processing of objective data, and thoroughness of their figures. They have similar interests both inside and outside of class. ‘We’re not just looking for academic training, we also love to participate in activities, in work teams, university competitions, in and out of the school’ explains Sharon, who precisely, is going to Dubai in March to represent the Barcelona School of Management at the recognized Hult Prize. ‘I’m actually going because I love it and I really want to experience it’. In spite of all this, they don’t feel that their academic aspirations cause them to feel detached from other more typical activities for their age group. ‘The key is in doing the same things but in less time’. But how do they manage that? ‘With a lot of concentration. That allows you to work more efficiently’. 

They neither envisage nor put any limits on their future. Lena aspires to work in Asia. Five years from now, she imagines herself as Buying Manager in an Asian subsidiary for a large European company in the retail sector. Sharon on the other hand is focused on International Relations and her objective is aimed at large organizations like the World Trade Organization, the U-Well or an Embassy. Just like the rest, they have talent, desire, and will. Because behind this great talent there is great willpower.