Launching the Scholar Ambassador Blog

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, February 6, 2018- Laspau is pleased to announce the launch of the Scholar Ambassador Blog, a place where scholars from Laspau-administered programs share stories in their own words of what it is like to study, research, and teach at higher education institutions abroad. These stories demonstrate the scholars’ belief in the transformative power of higher education, as well as their dedication to applying the knowledge and skills they’ve gained abroad for the betterment of their communities and countries. They are also a testament to the vision and commitment of the incredible sponsors (including governments, foundations, corporations, and individuals) that we have had the privilege of working with over the years.

As we embark on this storytelling journey, we hope that the blog will enable you to share in the experience of scholars from diverse backgrounds and regions and understand how they stayed motivated and focused, despite significant challenges. We also hope these stories will open doors to a world of possibilities to those who dream of following the path of higher education and international exchange.


The scholar ambassador blog is organized into three sections: About the Blog, the scope of the project; Become A Scholar Ambassador, an invitation component that encourages scholars to become bloggers; and Recent Stories, a component where blog stories are housed.

The blog is edited and moderated by Laspau staff.

Content & Support

To get involved, scholars must be a current or former Laspau-administered grantee, and committed to writing two or more stories within a year. Scholars submit the story through an interest form, and then receive feedback and editing assistance.

Social Media

Each blog story contains integrated social media buttons for Facebook and Twitter to foster content sharing between readers’ social network.

Innovating in Higher Education: Key Experiences in Latin America and the Caribbean 2016-2017

SANTIAGO, CHILE, February 1, 2018- We are delighted to announce the launch of a series of books: Innovating in Higher Education: Key Experiences in Latin America and the Caribbean, 2016-2017.

Laspau and Universidad de Chile have published a series of books on best practices in teaching aimed at promoting quality learning for students in higher education. The three-volume series is available in Spanish and Portuguese at this time.

Organized around three central themes, the combined volumes consist of 52 unique cases and present an array of best practices based on methodologies, classroom settings, curriculum and assessment, technology implementation, professional development, and diversity & inclusion. The cases are based on the experiences of faculty from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay at their institutions.


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In March, Laspau will announce the call for proposals for submissions to the fourth volume in the series. We welcome proposals from faculty, scholars, administrators who would like to share experiences of innovation in their university teaching that may contribute to the advances of teaching practices in the region.

For more information on University Innovation programs or publications, please contact Colleen Silva-Hayden, Assistant Director of University Innovation


Driving Leadership and Communication Skills Among the Student Leaders from the TEC de Monterrey

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, November 30, 2017- In collaboration with Tecnológico de Monterrey (TEC) in Mexico, Laspau implemented two exceptional programs aimed at strengthening leadership and communication skills among the leading students to tackle issues that they experience at their institution, and even in their communities.


For the second consecutive year during an intensive 4-day journey, Tecnológico de Monterrey sent 82 students, professors and administrative leaders to be part of the Ambassador Student Leadership Program. The participants traveled to Cambridge, Massachusetts to experience firsthand practices from institutions like, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Boston University. The program was divided into two cohorts: one that focused on gaining leadership skills, which mainly emphasizes on creative, visual, verbal and non-verbal communication (improvisation), as well as the foundations of leadership and tools for effective communication. The second group focused on strengthening communication skills.

Participants learned to use leadership and communication tools in order to work collaboratively on projects that offer problem-solving ideas that they face day-to-day in their communities. Based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) suggested by the United Nations, Laspau’s Program Manager of Academic Innovation, Colleen Silva-Hayden, has served as a guide in the process of creating projects related to SDGs where students learned about the elements needed to identify complex issues aligned with the ones at a global level, and use both theoretical and practical forms of the design thinking approach to tackle the problem from the root.

The Student Ambassador program has a blended curriculum structure, which student leaders participate in face-to-face workshops, and guided visits where they were able to interact with students from these exceptional institutions mentioned above.


Fulbright Scholar is on a Path to Change the World of Impossibilities for People with Disabilities

Fulbright scholar Juan Sebastian Betancourt Chaparro is changing the world for people with disabilities through his pioneering work. He earned a master’s degree through a Laspau-administered Fulbright Program in international business from the Florida International University (FIU). Today, Betancourt is a professor at the Universidad de La Sabana in his native Colombia, CEO-Founder of NKLUSVLIFE, and a member of a large network of institutions that promote inclusion such as Fulbright Colombia and Saldarriaga Concha Foundation.

Juan Sebastian Betancourt Chaparro has a vision of changing the world for people with disabilities. He is working with local governments and businesses to create more accessible facilities for individuals using wheelchairs, and has proved that there are economic benefits to creating a more inclusive community, especially in places like restaurants, public malls, bars, pubs, universities and even sports arenas.

Betancourt, who lives in Bogota, Colombia, knows firsthand the challenges of living with a disability. He has an incomplete spinal cord injury C4/C5 which happened in 2003 during his senior year in high school on a trip with his classmates. “I dove into the pool and broke my neck, after hitting my head at the bottom of the pool. When I woke up I was already in the hospital. During the last month or two of my rehab sessions, I asked myself, “What am I going to do with my life now?”

Because he has always been a disciplined and erudite student, Juan decided to continue his education after high school graduation. He pursued undergraduate studies in international business at the Universidad de La Sabana, one of the top universities in Bogotá, and coincidentally, located right next to his rehabilitation facility. Near the end of his undergraduate studies, Betancourt was part of an internship program at Unilever, a global company that produces consumer goods for their supply management team. Betancourt worked in the logistical component for products like Dove and Lipton Tea. Soon after, he worked for several companies as an independent consultant and marketing strategist, including a floral company, which supplies flowers to all Walmart stores in the United States.

“I’m trying to change the way people in Bogotá, Colombia, see people with disabilities. Instead of just seeing a disabled person, I hope they see this person as someone who can bring benefits to companies, communities, and overall be productive in our society.”

As Betancourt succeeded in his professional life, he considered the possibility of going back to school to pursue graduate studies, not in Colombia, but abroad. Betancourt’s closest acquaintances highly encouraged him to take the risk and provided the full support needed for his journey. While working for the floral company, he applied for the Fulbright scholarship program, “I applied first in 2010 when I was finishing my undergraduate studies, but I not was not eligible for the scholarship because at that time, I didn’t have my bachelor’s degree yet. After my undergraduate graduation in 2011, I applied for the second time and received a wonderful news from Fulbright stating that I had been selected to pursue master’s degree in international business at Florida International University.” While at FIU, Betancourt interned with Sony, Latin America for 4 months.

Taking into account that the Fulbright Program requires the scholar to return to his home country upon the academic studies completion and apply the knowledge acquired abroad, Juan Sebastian needed to figure out what to do next when moving back to Colombia. He had two options in mind: apply for a job in Colombia or become an entrepreneur. In May 2015, one month after he returned to Colombia, he founded his own company, NKLUSVLIFE, a company that offers marketing, brand management and consulting to promote a profitable and sustainable business while being inclusive and accessible. As a successful entrepreneur, Betancourt currently balances his work as a professor of emerging markets at the Universidad de La Sabana, the same institution where he pursued his undergraduate studies.

Betancourt has a clear vision for the future and thinks big. He wants to the view of people with disabilities and their potential to contribute to society. In addition to changing the experience of people with disabilities in Colombia, Betancourt is also thinking beyond his own country. “One day, I would like to work with wheelchair sports teams, leagues and national teams to set up their travel plans. When people with disabilities go to other countries to participate in sports and/or vacations, we can inform them about inclusive places and provide logistical advice such as hotels, restaurants and attractions that can comfortably accommodate this particular population. I am very committed to this idea and I know this dream has potential to become true.”

Betancourt fully embraced his Fulbright experience and has advice for scholars and dreamers like him, “It is a once in a lifetime experience and you would be surprised about the level of cultural insight, perspective and general understanding you get from the process. It is a chance as well to be part of something unique where you can apply your recent knowledge and change the world for better. Treasure those moments, experience new things, keep new friends that come to your life and get ready to be ambitious and make the world a better place. Find your purpose in life and contribute for a common goal that transcends in later generations.”

Read more stories about Juan Sebastian Betancourt Chaparro!

Juan Sebastian Betancourt: Changing the Way Businesses Serve People with Disabilities by
Mobility: an Nklusion subject by Solkes
Millennials que dejan huella by El Tiempo

Learn more about NKLUSVLIFE!




Statement on Recent Natural Disasters in Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, September 20, 2017- Laspau is fortunate to work with an amazing community of talented individuals and institutions across the Americas. Over the past month, natural disasters such as hurricanes in the Caribbean and the southern United States and the earthquakes in Mexico have taken a heavy toll on many of our colleagues and friends. We have been deeply saddened to learn of the destruction, injury and loss of life suffered by residents in Mexico, the Caribbean, and parts of the United States. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by these disasters.

We encourage anyone interested in helping to donate to established organizations such as those found and rated on Charity Navigator:


Continued Partnership Between Laspau and INICIA Educación

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, July 18, 2017- Laspau is proud to be entering our seventh year of partnering with INICIA Educación, an impact investment fund focused on the improvement of the education system in the Dominican Republic. The organization catalyzes their mission through scholarship opportunities at a graduate study level as well as teacher education and educational innovation programs. Since 2012, INICIA Educación has granted scholarships to over 20 individuals to pursue Master´s degrees in education related fields at top-ranked programs in the United States and beyond. The INICIA Educación scholarship program will be accepting applications again in summer of 2017; a second application will open on a later date for studies in Latin America.

Please  check the INICIA Educación page on our website for detailed information on how to apply.

Learn more about INICIA Educación and their initiatives at

Read the press release (in Spanish)

Laspau and UNISAL host the Fourth Annual STHEM Consortium Conference in Brazil

LORENA, BRAZIL, July 7, 2017- Laspau, in collaboration with the Salesian University of São Paulo (Centro Universitário Salesiano de São Paulo – UNISAL), carried out the fourth annual STHEM Consortium Program Conference on May 22-26, 2017. The event marked the start of a yearlong training on innovative trends in higher education which involved professors and academic leaders of 47 public and private universities in Brazil. This is the fourth cohort of professors and leaders to participate in the program.

Photo courtesy of STHEM Brazil

Comprised of a series of intensive workshops, the program was led by professors from universities such as Olin College, Tecnológico de Monterrey and Université du Québec à Montréal. These experts shared different teaching methodologies with Brazilian professors to improve classroom content development, assessment, and learning management.

Photo courtesy of STHEM Brazil

The STHEM Consortium was established in 2014, led by Laspau and UNISAL, with the participation of a pioneering group of public and private higher education institutions in Brazil. It works to incorporate academic innovation into participants’ institutions, and has done so with great success.

Though this is a year-long program, professors from the participating universities continue implementing changes after they complete the program, incorporating methodologies in their teaching practice that reflect student-centered learning as well as creating communities of practice in their respective universities. Participants also remain connected to a broad network of experts in this area, exposing them to a variety of approaches to teaching and learning that are geared toward producing leaders in STEM-related practice and research.

For more information on the STHEM Consortium, please read about Fabio Garcia Reis, one of the Consortium founders, or  visit the STHEM Brasil website (in Portuguese).

For more information on University Innovation programs like the STHEM Consortium, please contact our Program Manager for Academic Innovation, Colleen Silva-Hayden.

Laspau, Microsoft and U-Planner Lead Summit on Trends of High-Performing Universities

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, July 7, 2017- A new initiative led jointly by Laspau, Microsoft Corporation’s Higher Education Division and U-Planner, a Chilean entity that develops technology solutions for the education sector was launched in March. The initiative, Summit on Trends of High-Performing Universities brought together presidents and academic deans from universities across Latin America to discuss active learning and new teaching techniques, and the use of big data and advanced educational technology in their universities.

Speakers included:

  • Laspau Trustee and Ford Foundation Professor of the Practice in International Education and Director of the Global Education Innovation Initiative and of The International Education Policy Program at Harvard University, Fernando Reimers
  • Laspau Trustee and Executive Director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University, Ned Strong
  • Laspau Executive Director, Angélica Natera
  • Executive Director of Active Learning at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) at Harvard University, Anas Chalan
  • Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics and Associate Director of the Experimental Study Group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Peter Dourmashkin
  • U-Planner Executive Director, Juan Pablo Mena
  • U-Planner Strategic Advisor, Jorge Yutronic
  • Director of Public Sector Markets (LATAM) at Microsoft, Guillermo Almada
  • President of Telefónica, Claudio Muñoz
  • CEO of Fundación Chile, Marcos Kulka
  • CEO of CORFO, Patricio Feres

The first event took place on March 22-23 at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University, and subsequent events were held in Chile and Mexico. Altogether, 30 universities participated in the summit. Within the framework of this event, participants were also able to meet with members of the U-Planner to learn and exchange specific strategic goals of universities through intelligent solutions designed for higher education.

For more information on U-Planner, visit

Laspau Attends the NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, May 28-June 2, 2017- In May, Laspau attended the NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo, an event that brings together world leaders in higher education to discuss pressing topics, exchange ideas and explore new horizons in international education. The conference took place in Los Angeles, California. This year, our coordinator of academic program operations, Brianna Swenson, and program advisor Josaba Uribe presented an informational poster titled, “Return on Cost-Share Investment: Laspau Sponsored Students”, in which they demonstrated how sponsored student programs benefit university campuses across the country and strengthen international networks.

During the week of the conference, Laspau nominated Pennsylvania State University, University of Arizona, and University of Texas-Austin for the 2017 Laspau University Award in recognition of their outstanding support for Laspau-administered scholars. “We value their commitment to supporting exceptional educational opportunities for scholars from Latin America and the Caribbean and for going above and beyond expectations”, stated Laspau Executive Director, Angélica Natera. Last year, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and The University of Kansas shared this important award during the conference held in Denver, Colorado.

For more information about how your institution can collaborate with us, please contact our Program Development and Manager, Ana Paola Cueva at