An extraordinarily driven Venezuelan

@Roberto Arribas

As a member of the Women in Business Club, student Isabella D´Ambrosio, participates in the solidarity campaign “Panas por Venezuela”

At home she’s unable to focus one hundred percent on her studies. There are too many distractions in Isabella D’Ambrosio’s student apartment. So, she prefers to spend a lot of her afternoons at La Colonia Café, close to Plaza Mayor in Segovia, sipping one of the delicious coffees served there while working on her laptop. La Colonial keeps the essence of those old romantic cafés whose smell of roasted coffee beans comforts the body, soothes the soul, and inspires active minds. “The coffee is really good in my country,” says Isabella with a hint of nostalgia. Isabella is twenty years old and she is currently studying Communication and Digital Media at IE University

Originally from Caracas, Isabella is very concerned as she watches the events unravelling in her country from a distance. With both Spanish and Italian roots, Isabella feels she is one hundred percent criollo; and she is unable to hide her sadness when talking about the direction Venezuela is heading. “It’s a shame that a country with so much wealth is suffering such a severe humanitarian crisis,” she says.  She says she hears news about hospitals that have run out of resources, children who are growing up without a balanced diet, and businesses that are closing because they are unable to pay the bills. This is all taking place in a country with more than one million percent hyperinflation and where the number of poor civilians is increasing daily. 

Isabella D'Ambrosio IE

“I love my country,” she tells us passionately. “Venezuelans are hard workers and great people; but they are now completely tied down, and their only way out is to take to the streets and protest,” she stresses. «My duty as a Venezuelan is to shine a light on the humanitarian crisis happening in my country and to start a debate, not to foster conflict, but to show solidarity and raise funds to help mitigate the dramatic situation back home,” she says.

Along with other young Venezuelans living in Segovia, Isabella D’Ambrosio has worked to promote the campaign “Panas por Venezuela” (“Friends of Venezuela”) which aims to raise money at IE University and send it to two NGOs that are actively working in the country: Brigadas Azules and Juventud por Venezuela.

This young student from Caracas, is very proud of the solidarity shown by her fellow students. So far, they have raised more than €4,500. Isabella is also a member of the student government at IE University, through which she has successfully garnered the support and participation of various student associations, like the Philanthropic Club and the Music Club, making the “Panas por Venezuela” campaign a huge success. «We want this initiative to become a tradition at the university and to continue to raise funds for the most disadvantaged Venezuelans.” She adds, “I have seen so much solidarity among IE University students, regardless of their nationality or personal ideas; people here have very big hearts.”

Isabella is a student with very clear ideas and shows great determination in all of the projects she takes on.  She is truly an extraordinarily driven woman. «I always like to keep busy. I want to live my own life, and understand the world from different perspectives, and I am always open to new ideas and have a proactive attitude toward change,» she stresses.

WOMEN IN BUSINESS

At the moment, one of the projects she is most excited about is the Women in Business Club, which replicates the existing club at IE Business School for postgraduate students.  This club, which opened this March in Segovia on International Women’s Day, is pioneered by eight young women studying a range of different programs at IE University. And it highlights IE’s defining quality as an institution committed to diversity and gender equality. For example, 69% of administration services staff and 51% of undergraduate students at IE University are women.

«The goal of Women in Business is to foster the empowerment of women, providing strategies and tools to make it happen,» says Isabella, who is very involved in organizing all kinds of activities, from helpful workshops to informal meetings. The goal is to promote a greater role for women in society.

«There is still a long way to go to achieve the society we hope for; less than a hundred years ago we couldn’t vote or make decisions about our own lives. We have to keep learning and fighting for equality,” she says.

For this young Venezuelan, education is the foundation for everything and is what makes real change possible. She also stresses that it is important to include men in the conversation and that clubs like Women in Business definitely don’t have a vindictive attitude towards them. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, «men are our allies; together we can achieve proactive change.»

Isabella D’Ambrosio loves challenges, and her determination is an integral part of her character. She is part of the committee of students in charge of organizing a new edition of the LEAP Conference. This international event, held on April 27 in Segovia, aims to inspire students and young entrepreneurs by showcasing the experiences of people who have achieved professional success through innovative projects. «The LEAP Conference aims to encourage young people to take the leap necessary to turn their entrepreneurial dreams into a reality,” she says.

For anyone else all of this activity might seem exhausting, but Isabella thrives on the challenges it brings. Isabella is non-stop; she’s right in her element when surrounded by so much energy.  She’s comfortable in Segovia: “It’s a city that, despite being small, is filled with diversity.” She adds that she is happy studying a Bachelor in Communication and Digital Media, «it’s a degree that is very relevant to our reality and constant change.”

In a year’s time, the young Venezuelan will graduate and will leave Segovia, taking a suitcase full of memories with her. One final note: Isabella lets us in on one of her greatest secrets: she has a passion for poetry and is a great admirer of the brilliant writer Elvira Sastre (Segovia,1992), who won the Biblioteca Breve Prize for her first novel, Days Without You. She concludes the interview by adding, “I would really like to meet her, she is one of my favorite authors.”