IEU Experience


Juan Ignacio Checa Díaz may be young, but he already knows more about overcoming adversity than many ever will. It was one thing to discover, on his very first day of classes in the Bachelor in Business Administration, that he felt a little overwhelmed. It was quite another, however, to find out three years later that he had cancer and may have to give up the program for treatment. But in both instances, Juan displayed a strong determination to rise above the challenge he was facing—a quality he says typifies the high standards he continually sets for himself.

Getting fully involved after a shaky start

Juan freely admits that he was struggling to keep up with his peers at first. While he was still wrestling with understanding an early case study, all his classmates appeared to handle it confidently. Far from letting this discourage him, however, Juan threw himself into life at IE University with gusto, eventually becoming an IE Student Ambassador and a guide to incoming first-year students through the Mentorship Society.

He was also the class representative for his cohort, interned with IE University’s marketing team and participated in the prestigious TEDxIE Madrid hybrid event as an audience experience coordinator. He even launched his own fitness startup and while that didn’t work out exactly as he’d planned, he chooses to view it as a valuable lesson in life and business. From a cautious start, Juan blossomed into a highly valued and respected member of the IE Community.

A big decision to make

Unfortunately, the fourth and final year of his program had new challenges in store. Diagnosed with stage-one testicular cancer, he faced the very difficult choice of potentially having to stop his studies in order to pursue treatment

But Juan sees his future self as an entrepreneur in the communications sector with multiple income streams—he wasn’t going to let even cancer stop him. The solution that finally worked exemplifies both Juan’s resolve not to let challenging circumstances get in the way of his ambitions, and the support, flexibility and understanding that IE University students can count on when they need it.

“Discomfort,” Juan says, “is life’s most significant teacher.” His IE University journey may have been rather different from many people’s, but it has been no less transformational. In this inspirational video, you can see how—with the support of family, friends and IE University—Juan managed to not just stay in the program, but graduate successfully despite being on another continent. 

Juan now plans to continue his studies at IE University with a master’s in a communications or digital media field. Given his already proven capacity for persistence, grit and resilience even in the most trying of circumstances, we can’t wait to see what he achieves.