Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Jorge de Leon Miranda ’14

Jorge de Leon Miranda ’14 gives back to his native Guatemala by applying his Wheaton education to an internship with the Social Entrepreneurship Corps.

Choosing to make a difference: I applied to the Social Entrepreneur Corps Winter Break Impact program in Guatemala since I was going to spend my winter break at home and I wanted to have another professional experience. I wanted to work for a nonprofit organization because I plan to study international development in the future. I wanted to understand how organizations such as SEC establish sustainable projects that enhance the economic and life standards of poor societies, particularly in third world countries.

Applying education to social change:  My background as an economics major and physics minor helped me during my internship. I worked with rocket stoves, which combine the principles of combustion and energy efficiency. I was able to explain how they work to the rest of the interns and organization members because of my physics knowledge. I also was able to understand most of the concepts behind business management and rural development from my economic classes such as “Introduction to Macroeconomics,” “Microeconomics” and “Urban Economics.” Surprisingly, a class that was very useful was “Introduction to Cultural Anthropology” with Professor Bruce Owens. I worked as a field consultant and I had to interact with very isolated Guatemalan communities. I’m Guatemalan, but I am from the city, so it was hard to understand some cultural practices since customs and habits differ between rural and urban areas. I was able to use anthropological methods to interact, listen and learn from these communities. I was very glad to learn what rural Guatemalans really needed and how our help was actually improving their health and economic condition.

A rewarding experience: I have always wanted to be a factor of change for my country. For that reason I was very happy to acquire professional skills by working at SEC and also help Guatemalan communities. Often, foreigners work at nonprofit organizations in Guatemala, so I was happy to show communities that a fellow citizen could support them in the same way. I am glad to be part of the establishment of a sustainable project that will improve the life standards and economic conditions of families in Guatemalan communities.

Future plans: I want to study international development and work for an organization that addresses economic growth, poverty and marginalization. I want to be able to help societies create sustainable projects and improve their economic growth.

—Interview by Brian Jencunas ’14