Gustavo Torres Silva inspired our students and volunteers by telling how he overcame the lack of opportunities in a humble neighborhood at São Paulo southern area and was accepted in one of the best universities of the world

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It has been practically two weeks since we published a post on our blog about Gabriel Kazuitti, a Crea+’s student who was approved in Ismart, an institution that offers scholarships for low-income teenagers in renowned private schools. And who would guess? At that same week, one of our schools was visited by Gustavo Torres da Silva, a youngster from São Paulo periphery who packs his bags to study at Stanford University. The comparison between them is inevitable, since Silva was at the same situation as Kazuitti a few years ago as an Ismart’s student.

Silva visited Odon Cavalcanti Public School (OC), where he learned about the activities that Crea+ carries out on Saturdays and inspired our volunteers and students by sharing his life story, mainly his recent academic and professional achievements. “Without doubt, Gustavo has been the reason of a huge inspiration for students and volunteers in this morning. I hope that stories like that will be multiplied around Brazil”, says one of our volunteers Gustavo Mendonça, on a Facebook post that got more than 80 likes.

But do you know Silva’s story? He was born and raised in Capão Redondo. He was accepted in Ismart when he was in the 7th grade. Polls made by a famous Brazilian outlet called Exame shows that, without theaters or cultural centers, Capão Redondo is the second most violent neighborhood in São Paulo. Despite the adversities, the student struggled to maintain a double study period – he attended tutoring classes at Santo Américo Private School in the morning and came back to his former public school in the afternoon. This routine continued until High School, when he started attending Santo Américo in full period.

Silva is the only child of an elderly caretaker and an electric technician. He has always had an interest in books and also in electronic devices that his father used to fix. Since then, few things have changed. After participating in a Yale University’s foreign exchange program on 2013, Silva came back to Brazil with even more determination to go after his dream of studying Engineering in an American university. He applied for ten excellence American institutions, among then Harvard, Pensilvania, Duke and MIT. But, at the end, he chose Stanford University because of the quality of its Bioengineering course and its scholarship and incentives for academic researches.

Read below the admission letter that Gustavo received from MIT:

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Social impact

“In the last 15 years, things have improved where I live. Capão Redondo had once a lot of murders, robberies and drugs. Of course, it isn’t a paradise yet. But it got better. Besides that, it is still known as a place with no hope and with no good outlook for its dwellers. I think this is bullshit. Actually, growing up in Capão Redondo was very positive for me just because I didn’t have any privilege and I learned to be persistent and to take advantage of each opportunity that I find. Being born in the periphery reduces your chances to do great things, but it doesn’t exclude them. I see that people are more and more noticing this, being more optimistic and eliminating the limits to their dreams”, said Silva on his blog.

That vision inspired the future engineer to create in August, 2013, the non-profit organization called Discovering the Youth Dream (Descobrindo o Sonho Jovem, in Portuguese), that helps students from public schools to identify and struggle for their dreams by coaching and giving guidance. He idealized and realized this project together with his friend João Victor Araújo – from São Paulo’s periphery too – while both of them were studying at Santo Américo Private School. In the last year, Silva e Araújo raised 800 reals (260 dolars) by crowdfunding platforms. Though it is focused in Capão Redondo, the intention of the prodigious youngsters is to extend the project for all the country.

You can read a little bit more of Silva’s story at Fundação Estudar’s website. Click here to check this out.

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