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Fueled by scholarships, Federico is changing lives across the globe
Federico Pastoris grew up in Italy enjoying what he calls “a perfect life” — good health, a supportive family, the opportunity to earn an education. Then, he volunteered to teach schoolchildren in remote Malawi, Africa, an experience that changed the course of his life — and the lives of countless others to come.
“Seeing Africa at 17 years old had a real emotional impact,” recalls Federico. “Why all this injustice and unfairness? Why are opportunities and possibilities so imbalanced across the world, based just on the privilege of where you happen to be born?”
He returned home with a determination to devote his future to research and service that could change lives. And he decided an American education would open more doors to allow him to make a difference.
“I want to empower people, to remove the obstacles that prevent them from moving forward with their own ideas and perspectives,” he states.
Thanks to financial support he received from the donor-endowed UW Bothell Founders Fellowship and the UW Bothell International Student Scholarship, Federico is already getting that chance as an undergraduate majoring in Global Studies at UW Bothell. He spent his winter break and two months this past summer working in Nicaragua and Guatemala researching ways to alleviate indoor air pollution caused by burning solid fuels like charcoal and wood.
“The heavy smoke from cooking with those fuels causes many respiratory infections and disorders in developing countries, especially among women and children” he explains. “But we can’t implement real and lasting solutions without understanding the culture of those countries and working together with those communities as facilitators, rather than imposing our solutions and technology on them.”
The opportunity to delve so deeply into his research was boosted by his relationship with Professor Ben Gardner, whose own research addresses inequality, conflict, and struggle in Africa.
“Professors like him really open your mind. Everything in my life, my research, how I see my role in this field, has changed after taking his classes,” says Federico, who chose UW Bothell after transferring from a college in Kansas because of the small class sizes that enable close interaction among faculty and students.
He’ll graduate in spring 2018 and then has his sights set on a master’s degree followed by more research and work in developing countries. Federico says he’s grateful for the fellowship that he feels is validating his future goals.
“A scholarship shows that somebody appreciates your ideas, believes in your work and wants to see where you’re going with it. That gives you confidence. It empowers you,” he says. “I’ve changed so much from my work in Central America. Without the fellowship money, I might not have been able to go there. This life I have, the career I’m planning — I already feel really fulfilled.”
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