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​"It's a privilege to be able to study"

FCA and CNH Industrial award 131 High School, Technical and Higher Education students in the 22nd edition of the Education Award

November 21, 2018 - The more serious countenance and apparent nervousness left no hint that we were in front of a veteran. Yes, for Jairo José de Paula, Manufacturing analyst at FCA, the Education Award is all too familiar. A father of four, in 2010, he saw his eldest, Caroline, a Biology major, take home the award in the category of Higher Education. His second daughter, Jessica, got recognition in the High School category, for the good grades she earned during her technical training in Chemistry.

After eight years, another double score. Jessica, now 27, was back on the podium, but this time, in the Higher Education category. Joyce, 25, also got an award in the same category as her sister. As former students of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Joyce studied Metallurgical Engineering and Materials, and Jessica, Medicine.

Their father says that the feeling that remains is of having accomplished a mission. "My children only give me pride. Because Jessica's course is longer and Joyce spent a year abroad through the Science Without Borders program, I was fortunate to see the two receive the award together. I feel at peace because I believe they are ready, ready to face the world", said Jairo.

It was over the phone through her father that Jessica received the news that she and her sister were among the winners of this year's award. "The first thing I did was to thank him and my mother for bringing us up so well and for working very hard to keep us in good schools. It was pure happiness" she described. And Joyce added, "It's a privilege to be able to study. My father didn't have the same financial conditions as we did and could not dedicate his time exclusively to school. I am grateful for this opportunity, and I hope to make my family even more proud".

The sisters were part of a group of 131 students honored at the 22nd edition of the Education Prize, held on October 30, at the Minas Tênis Clube Cultural Center Theater in Belo Horizonte. High school graduates received R$ 4,000 and those in higher education received R$ 8 thousand each.

The award was created in 1997, now held in several countries where FCA and CNH Industrial are present, with the aim of encouraging education. The winners are selected among the children of employees, based on their performance throughout the school and academic life. Since its first edition, more than 2 thousand students in Brazil have been the recipients of such award. The total value accumulated in prizes for the period is approximately R$ 10 million.

FCA's president for Latin America, Antonio Filosa, explained that the prize is not just a competition. "This award is much more than that. It is, above all, the recognition for everything the students have done during their school years. It is also a stimulus for the future to do even more and to do it even better. Personally, I believe that education is a permanent process of personal construction", he said.

Meanwhile, the president of CNH Industrial for Latin America, Vilmar Fistarol, said that the award aims at instigating society's reflection and foster the search for knowledge, in order to train Brazilian citizens to become increasingly prepared, critical and defenders of their own ideas.

Representing the high school award recipients, the young Eglys Gabriela Custódio Farias pointed out that grades are more than just numbers: "They are the result of a tireless search for knowledge". As an Electrical Engineering student at the University of Pernambuco, she also shared her mother Elisângela's advice. "Aim for the moon. If you miss it, you'll at least hit a star".

The biomedical doctor Ana Paula Vargas Garcia spoke on behalf of the Higher Education students saying that even as a public school student, she always felt capable of accomplishing her dream of becoming a great researcher. An important incentive came in 2011, when she won the Education Award in the High School category. Before finishing her speech, she made a request: "Encourage people and ideas in whatever position they are. Encourage education. Surely you will make a difference in someone's life".

In an atmosphere of great joy and excitement, the families celebrated the rewards of these youngsters with many applauses and shouts that echoed words of encouragement and praise. On cell phones, the successive photos are records that perpetuate the moment. While the name of Miguel Gustavo dos Santos Saviotti was announced on the stage, his father Rodrigo Saviotti, sitting in the audience, vibrated with his son's new achievement. "It's a whirlwind of emotions that makes your heart jump, I'm speechless", he said, visibly moved.

Miguel is studying for two different degrees: One as Technician in Electrical Learning and the other in college for Production Engineering. His schedule is not an easy one and usually exceeds ten hours of daily studies. But the young man says it's worth it. "Every once in a while, I get an earful from my dad asking me to turn off the video game, but I know he does it for my own good. I believe in meritocracy, and I'm sure that when I get into the job market, I'll reap the fruits I'm planting now", he glimpses.

Well known among the winners, and perhaps a little less among parents and relatives, at the height of her 21 years, actress and singer Alessandra Aires Landim or Lellêzinha, charmed the guests with her stage performance. She shared her story saying that before she decided which path to follow, she allowed herself to sing, dance, perform, and do various other things. "It required self-consciousness. I think we have to discover ourselves, try and never give up on our dreams", she advised. Lellêzinha performed with her band, the Dream Team do Passinho, which in just five years of her career has already toured in the US, France and Angola. Last year the group performed at the Rock in Rio.

The Powerful women’s Show

Of the 131 awarded, 101 were women. Undoubtedly, it is a feat that deserves to be celebrated, but as the metallurgical engineer Joyce Silva de Paula points out, this recognition must also reach the labor market. "The vacancies in my area are still mostly occupied by men", she lamented.

Her sister Jessica says that in some medical specialties, such as surgery, there are mostly men, but that in general women are gaining recognition in their profession. "Seeing the high number of women at the awards is proof that our generation has come to balance out the job market. We have to take our place alongside men. I do not want to stay ahead of anyone, I want to compete on an equal basis, with the same recognition that we are all capable of becoming whatever we want", said the doctor.

Words: Mônica Salomão

Pictures: Leo Lara

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